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Revenge Porn Victims Have New Rights

102733346In 2013 and again in 2015, California amended its disorderly conduct statute to include instances of “revenge porn.” See Pen C §647(j)(4). The first convictions are coming down with more likely to follow.

In general, revenge porn describes certain conduct of a victim’s former lover or spouse in posting nude photos or footage of the victim on the Internet. Pen C §647(j)(4). These photos were typically shared consensually when the relationship was good; but then used vindictively when things soured between the couple.

Here are some key aspects of the law:

  1. The statute proscribes the act of distribution of certain types of images. The source of the images is irrelevant; pictures taken by the victim (also known as “selfies”), by the defendant, or by a third party are covered by the statute.
  2. The statute covers redistribution of images and hacked images.
  3. The distribution must have been done in circumstances in which persons agreed or understood that the images would remain private.
  4. The distribution must be done with the intent to cause serious emotional distress and the victim suffers that distress. (Accidental distributions aren’t covered.)

There’s a range of activities that fall under “revenge porn.” The law can be used against websites dedicated to posting revenge porn and then charging victims fees to remove the humiliating photos. In the first such case to be brought in California, a San Diego man was convicted of 27 felony charges for operating a revenge porn website.

On a smaller—but no less humiliating—scale, a Los Angeles man who posted a topless photo of his ex-girlfriend on Facebook was the first to be sentenced (to a year in jail) for violating California’s new revenge porn law. 

In times of rapid technological change, the law needs to evolve. The amendments to cover revenge porn is a good example of changing a law to creatively address new crimes.

Revenge porn is one of the many issues under California privacy laws covered in CEB’s award-winning Internet Law and Practice in California, chap 9.

Other CEBblog™ posts you may find interesting:

© The Regents of the University of California, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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