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back to article Victims of 'revenge pr0n' sue GoDaddy, smut site

Seventeen female victims of a "revenge porn" website have banded together to sue an online outfit that published their names and compromising pictures of them without permission. The class-action lawsuit against TeXXXan.com and its hosting provider GoDaddy describes the revenge-porn site as a "blight upon society" and a "sick, …

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Paris Hilton

Revenge pr0n.

leads to

Revenge of the Sith.

Using my powers of anagrams and association of ideas, this comes out as a very scatological site.

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Coat

Pics, or it didn't happen.

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Facepalm

Hmmmmmm. morality and lawyers.

"I'm going after the revenge porn industry," Morgan told local paper the Houston Chronicle. "Those sickos who post private information of women without their knowledge."

What he meant was he was going after a big payout, and the sickos in question are the lawyers that would happilly and equally represent either side and then dress up their shameless profiteering as either "moral decency" or "protecting free speech".

As for the targets of the revenge postings, unless they can prove they are not the ones in the material posted, or that the allegations made in taglines for the photos are incorrect, I'm not sure how they expect to win. If I was the defending lawyer, the first thing I'd ask Ms Hollie Toups was did she deny the acts depicted. If no then I'd have to ask did she keep her relationship secret or did she talk to any of her friends about what she and her partner of the time got up to in the sack, as she obviously could not be that embarrassed by them if she told her mates (and women tell each other EVERYTHING). The following questions would be about her sacktime habits, which I'm sure she wouldn't want dragged through court anyway, and unless she could show she was a vestal virgin seduced the once (and photed against her will) by a devious scam-artist, it would be hard for the jury to conclude that she was anything but "embarrassed".

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Re: Hmmmmmm. morality and lawyers.

The paragraph that starts "As for the targets of the revenge postings, ..."

Wow. Seems to be a lot of anger coming through here.

I'd argue that those who were posted about had an expectation of privacy and they should be in control of what is shared about them in such a public manner. It's got little to do about whether they denied the acts.

It is not about people gossiping, it is about people being demeaned.

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Re: Hmmmmmm. morality and lawyers.

"I'd argue that those who were posted about had an expectation of privacy"

Exactly. If the explicit photos are taken in a private setting by their partner, there is a reasonable expectation* that those pictures will be viewed only by the partner. To then make those images public is a breach of privacy (as well as showing the person who published them to be a dick).

Imagine how horrified you would be if you allowed your partner to take photos of you, you broke up and then found they had posted them on the web for all to see.

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FAIL

Re: Hmmmmmm. morality and lawyers.

".....Wow. Seems to be a lot of anger coming through here....." <Sigh> Why is it that some people have to assume anyone that disagrees with their point of view must be raging? Is it easier for you to cope with disagreement if you can dress it up as rage? Gorw up.

".....I'd argue that those who were posted about had an expectation of privacy.....it is about people being demeaned......" You can argue all you like, it makes little difference in court unless you can prove that, and - frankly - any woman willing to let her partner take naked pics is (a) stupid, or (b) not actually embarrassed by nudity, and/or both. Legally, if you don't have an agreement limiting distribution ("Sign here to say you won't upload it to the Web or show it your buddies on the football team...") then you waved all rights, the pic actually belongs to the photographer. It's got eff-all to do with morality or otherwise, it's just common sense, and now these women are trying to sue because they were stupid enough not to think "Hmmmm, what will he/she do with that pic if we break up?" Duh!

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Re: Dr Mouse Re: Hmmmmmm. morality and lawyers.

"......If the explicit photos are taken in a private setting by their partner, there is a reasonable expectation* that those pictures will be viewed only by the partner....." And in other news, people are surprised when they get taken advantage of!

".......Imagine how horrified you would be if you allowed your partner to take photos of you, you broke up and then found they had posted them on the web for all to see." Erm, well, actually I'd be more worried about the state of mind of anyone looking at pics of yours truly in the buff - not a pretty sight! But I'd be even more embarrassed that people would see me as STUPID enough to let someone take pics of me in such a compromising situation.

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Re: Hmmmmmm. morality and lawyers.

"Legally, if you don't have an agreement limiting distribution ("Sign here to say you won't upload it to the Web or show it your buddies on the football team...") then you waved all rights,..." [citation needed]

I think you meant to say "waived all rights." And under US law, at least, that statement is not true.

There are both civil and criminal statutes which regulate and in many cases limit what a photographer can do with a photograph of a recognizable person, which vary from state to state (and sometimes with the person--public figures, for example, have a much harder time pursuing a photographer for, say, breach of privacy than private citizens do).

Put very simply, and with full awareness that laws vary: You generally do not need permission to distribute a photograph of a person taken in a public place. You generally DO need permission to distribute a photograph of a person taken in a private place. In addition, there are more restrictions on using a photograph of a person for commercial reasons; this may include, for example, publishing a picture of a person on a pay-for-access Web site or on a Web site that generates revenue from banner ads, even if the photographer is not compensated directly for the photograph. (Laws on this point vary by state.)

There is also a whole can of worms involving defamation. A photograph that is distributed with a caption or text that defames the subject may be illegal even if the photograph by itself would not be.

States may also have "unreasonable intrusion" laws and/or other laws which regulate photography or distribution of photographs taken in private places.

All of this is largely academic, though, because there are clear distinctions between the people who TAKE pictures and the people who PUBLISH pictures. A publisher may be liable for publication of an image containing someone's likeness even if the photographer incurs no legal liability in taking the image. In this particular case, the photographers uploading images are under different legal limitations than the Web site, which is acting as a publisher for those images. It's the responsibility of the publisher of an image, not the photographer, to determine whether or not a particular image can be reproduced without the consent of the subject (a model release). If a photographer provides an image without a release, and the publisher then ends up involved in a lawsuit because the subject claims consent was required to reproduce the image, the publisher, not the photographer, is on the hook. As long as the photographer didn't do something silly like claim he had a release when he didn't, or claim that a release wasn't necessary, it all lands on the publisher.

And that's what this lawsuit is doing--going after the publisher.

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Re: Hmmmmmm. morality and lawyers.

'I'd argue that those who were posted about had an expectation of privacy'

I'm not sure if that holds up in court though does it? I was under the impression that if someone takes pictures of you with your consent on their own property what they then do with them is their own business - They own the pictures, not the model.

I'm not defending the scumbags that post stuff like this as they are clearly arseholes of the highest order, but I'm not sure they are actually breaking the law...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmmmmmm. morality and lawyers.

IANAL, but I do not believe people are correct here.

AFAIK, you must have consent to publish a picture of someone if it was taken in a private place. You need their explicit permission.

"any woman willing to let her partner take naked pics is (a) stupid, or (b) not actually embarrassed by nudity, and/or both."

I would be embarrassed to be seen naked in public. I would be embarrassed if ANYONE saw me naked except my partner. But I have sent her pictures of myself, and she has reciprocated. I do not think this is a stupid thing to do in a long term, committed relationship.

If the relationship was to break down, I would not publish those pictures. I'm not an arsehole. I am certain she wouldn't either.

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Re: Hmmmmmm. morality and lawyers.

"<Sigh> Why is it that some people have to assume anyone that disagrees with their point of view must be raging? Is it easier for you to cope with disagreement if you can dress it up as rage? Gorw up."

I did not suggest that you were raging - I said that there seemed to be a lot of anger in your post, particularly the part where you take the role of defense lawyer (btw, shouting and putting things in quotes does not help the tone of your post).

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Paris Hilton

You realise of course that posting the website has resulted in a Thursday afternoon DDOS as 4 billion Reg readers check for hot totty in Texas?

Paris... for obvious reasons.

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Anonymous Coward

Hot totty in Texas?

4 billion and one...

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Anonymous Coward

4000000002

So I'm not the only leery old reger wondering what Ms Hottie Tops is making such a fuss about then? ;-)

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Really?

Sanctimonius bastard warning. I certainly have no intention of going to "have a peek". I'd like to think there are at least a few fellow reg readers who don't need to either.

I hope they get taken down. Free speech, sure. Hate...not acceptable.

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Nice takedown El Reg, nice takedown...

Service Temporarily Unavailable

The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to maintenance downtime or capacity problems. Please try again later.

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Meh

Re: Nice takedown El Reg, nice takedown...

According to commentards on the Verge (who published this story 26 hours ago), it's been down for two days.

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Anonymous Coward

"Service "emporarily Unavailable" Seems I'm not the only reader bored enough to take a look :/

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Anonymous Coward

Or typing with one hand...

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Pint

Re: Launches court case to close site.

I just checked it, it's down due to high traffic. Mission Accomplished!

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FAIL

Striesand Effect

That is all.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Striesand Effect

Yup never heard of that one, but I may have to check it out....for research purposes of course.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Striesand Effect

Ah yes, the famous stray sand effect... gets in your eyes and assorted other orifices.

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Takedown policy

Are there rules making it mandatory to take down pictures of a person, when asked? It certainly depends on countries, and in the US, on the state… I wish these women luck.

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Re: Takedown policy

I was thinking about that. If any of the pics are "selfies", then the women could use the DMCA, as they presumably still hold the copyright.

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This is why I hate the photo obsessed.

Why is it that nowadays everyone seems to want to photograph everything? Is it because they can? Is it because they're morons?

Anyone pulling a camera on me in a "compromising position" or dressed in a way I'd not go out in public is asked politely not to take a photo, then more direct action is taken. Once a digital photograph exists there exists the possibility that some piece of shit will publish it.

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Re: This is why I hate the photo obsessed.

"Anyone pulling a camera on me... dressed in a way I'd not go out in public is asked politely not to take a photo..."

Hey, what's it to you what the photographer is wearing?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is why I hate the photo obsessed.

You can complain about it, but then it was an ex of mine suggested making videos not me :)

As for photographing everything, people used to meet up and show each other things (not necessarily their body parts). How else can you do that online?

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Unhappy

"[if] TEXXXAN did not exist their [sic] would most certainly be something else in its place."

You know, other issues aside, that's a really, really lousy argument. I can just see a trial about a mob hit: "Your honor, it would be grossly unfair to convict me of murder - there had to be 10 other guys in line to whack that asshole. He was history anyway!"

As far as the case goes, I'd say that GoDaddy is in the clear; they're providing a service and can't be expected to be judge, jury, and executioner for every piece of content on their servers. The site's operators - well, I don't know how they arranged things, but often the question is: Even if their content was entirely user-submitted, were they actively encouraging a specific kind of verboten stuff (copyrighted music, say, or photos such as those described here).

I don't, however, think that the site's visitors should be penalized. While they may have encouraged the site's contributors, they didn't actually do the deed; holding them accountable opens a can of worms. Also, if I were to see a site like that, my immediate assumption would be that it was fake - largely due to it clearly being such a bad move to put up such pictures of people without their permission! (I'm inclined to wonder if any of the women were actually under 18; does that change the operators from mere sleazebags to being filthy pedophiles who should have their nuts burned off with an acetylene torch? Hmm...)

I find it depressing that people seem to think that having the bad judgment to allow photos to be taken of yourself somehow absolves those exploiting the photos of responsibility, or makes it unreasonable of the victims to seek redress. An individual's exercising bad judgment doesn't suddenly make them fair game for all and sundry - if that were the case, then fraud wouldn't be a crime, as you could make an argument that fraud victims by definition used bad judgment.

Additionally, the potential harm to the victims (as I've pointed out in other similar stories) is quite severe - certainly out of proportion to the misguidedness of their actions. Women are (hypocritically) held to different standards than men by society; a man who screws everything that moves is a bad-ass player but the women he beds are sluts and idiots. The repercussions for them are much worse than for even the men who might be in the same pictures.

Not only that, I see plenty of people suggesting that the victims 'had it coming' (or similar) due to their bad judgment in allowing the pictures to be taken; one could make a fairly compelling argument that the site operators had equally-bad or even worse judgment in building a business *based* on those pictures. By that logic, they've got it coming, too - but oddly, I only see the women being questioned for it...

Finally, yes, as an individual you do have certain rights in this regard, and a civil court is precisely the place to exercise them (or attempt to). That's what civil courts are for: For those who are unreasonably (but not criminally) harmed by others to seek redress. I'm not familiar with the precedents or details of the law as far as this goes, but to me it seems like precisely the kind of situation where it makes sense to get involved.

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Go

It's nice to see a comment that helps me confirm that I've not actually stumbled onto the Mail's forums. Have an upvote.

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Different standards

"Women are (hypocritically) held to different standards than men by society; a man who screws everything that moves is a bad-ass player but the women he beds are sluts and idiots."

There's actually a sociological and biological reason for that difference in perception, or double standard if you prefer. Consider the function of reproduction from a purely genetic and biological standpoint: A woman knows that her baby is her offspring, because she carried it for nine months and gave birth to it. A man, on the other hand, has no way of knowing that any given baby is his or not (or didn't until the advent of genetic testing) other than the woman's word for it. From a genetic viewpoint, the woman is guaranteed that the resources she expends on her offspring benefits her genetic material - the perpetuation of which is the sole purpose of reproduction.

The man, however, is at risk of expending energy and resources raising another man's child, and so his own genetic material is not perpetuated. This makes the non-paternal child a genetic "parasite" to the man, in the same sense that a cuckoo is a parasitic bird that tricks other birds into hatching its eggs and raising its chick. It is precisely this behaviour of the cuckoo that gives us the term "cuckold" - not merely a man whose wife sleeps around on him, but one who is raising another man's child, like the bird raises the cuckoo. He is thus denied his own reproductive right - the right to perpetuate his own genetic material, a right granted to women as an inherent fact of biology.

Therefore, the "slut/stud" paradigm was established as a sociological defence to help ensure that men are not wasting their energy and resources raising another man's child. Of course, in these days of genetic tests, such a paradigm is indeed outdated, and should be discarded. However, there is one small problem: If, as part of the new paradigm eliminating ostracism of women for promiscuity, men are not accorded the same advantage of being entitled to a genetic test to verify their baby's paternity, then the paradigm becomes a double standard against men; Since the man is expected to take the woman's word that his baby is his with no recourse to testing. By implementing that, you essentially destroy a vital defence mechanism ensuring that men have equal reproductive rights with women.

So, in brief, if women want to be free of the paradigm of ostracism for promiscuity, they have to be prepared to freely allow their male partners to genetically confirm their child's paternity at birth, without resistance or complaint. That keeps things fair and equal. Yet most women I know would dump their partners in a second if they demanded a paternity test of their babies. That's fine - but those women then have no right to complain if other men and women call them sluts for sleeping around.

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Why did they pose naked in the first place?

Now; before I go on I know that I'm making a few assumptions here. Since these ladies remain anonymous and no specific pictures are being identified as being "malicious" its all we can basically do.

But when I visit this website I see a majority of pictures where women seem to pose naked and quite willingly too. Sometimes even assuming an erotic kind of position themselves. So; why allow that to be taken and why not protest immediately then and there? Each to his own of course; but you read so many stories about nudies ending up online these days...

And I fully well realize that people most likely trusted each other with this material when it was made. Sure. But even then; in a lot of cases digital material can also end up online without the knowledge or consent of the owner. Think about malware and other crap which manages to obtain data.

Please note than I'm not trying to justify this behaviour. Quite frankly I think its plain out disgusting (and that's putting it mildly) to expose an (ex) (girl)friend like that. In fact it tells us much more about the other spouse than the person on the picture IMNSHO.

And of course; there are also plenty of pictures where my comment doesn't apply at all. Simply facial pictures of a fully dressed girl for example. But having said all that; I still think there could very be more sides to the story than we're hearing right now.

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IT Angle

Re: Why did they pose naked in the first place?

I haven't been to the site, so I can't judge on the quality of pics (in technical terms, as in what they were shot with), but any girl who has engaged in a webcam conversation with her SO in any state of dress whatsoever - from fully-clothed to stark naked with a cucumber up her backside - risks that SO simply taking a screen grab (pun intended) and doing whatever he (presumably) likes with it.

Plus, as another poster mentioned, there are simply gadzillions of photo-taking devices out there. You visit some people's houses, their fridge probably snaps you.

I wish the women luck - there does need to be more than a modicum of sense exercised over personal image usage right now. At least, until our brains catch up with all this IT and we're all cool with it and nothing surprises us or bothers us any more.

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Re: Why did they pose naked in the first place?

"SO in any state of dress whatsoever - from fully-clothed to stark naked with a cucumber up her backside"

This reminds me of an unrelated-but-amusing story from college - unfortunately not nearly as ribald as the inspiration, but still...

Way back before the .com crash, I was in college at Stony Brook. At the time, ICQ was rearing its head - you know, when it was Mirabilis. I'd personally gotten in on the ground floor with a 5-digit number, which I subsequently and unfortunately lost.

At any rate, I'm sitting around enjoying my gig as a computer monitor dude in the main library when I see a guy and girl strolling to the exit. The guy, obviously chatting up the girl, says as casually as he can, "So, do you have an ICQ number?"

"Why," the girl replies in an incredulous tone, "would I want an icy cucumber?!"

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Happy

Re: Why did they pose naked in the first place?

Oh, very good!

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Anonymous Coward

"Why would I want an icy cucumber?!"

...and the story ends by him saying, "don't worry - if that's too cold for you, I've got a big hot sausage you can eat".

Thank you. Mr Coward and Hs Amazing Panoply of Well Worn Jokes is here all week.

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They resserve the right to remove content

that doesn't make them money.

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Alert

A salutory warning...

... to all the other kids "sexting" or posing for naughty pics for their (at the time SO) or posting anything else about themselves online or in a form which could come back and bite them on the arse.

NB Please note I, in no way, approve of or wish to try to justify/ act as an apologist, for the scumbags who posted these images, but, as the title suggests, this should be treated as a warning to those who think that they can trust someone else with such pictures or information in this online world.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Change name

Get your spelling dictionary while you're at it.

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Facepalm

RE: A salutory warning...

It gets worse than sexting. And it boggles the mind as to how many people think that its just their partner picking up their cell phone to answer 'Just one important text', when they are in a compromised position.

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Anonymous Coward

At least we now know it was genuine, unless so many other such sites.

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Anonymous Coward

Ban porn! We don't need it in our Christian society!

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Joke

Tell you what - how about we compromise and ban both?

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Ban society?

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Re: Ban Society

Interesting idea...

How many member do you have so far?

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Re: Ban Society

I have one member, and it does the job very well thank you.

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Facepalm

If you can't convince someone to "forsake all others" and put a ring on it, there is an implication that they are open to leaving you. In which case, why would you trust them with things you wouldn't want them to leave with? That is foolish.

Which do you value more, the freedom to have sex with people who aren't your partner, or the freedom to have sex with your partner? (I know, there is a 3rd option, but sharers are not common).

I'd suggest that the more you are willing to give up for something, the more value you are placing on that thing. If you want a relationship to last, being cheap is counter-productive. Being "costly" (in relationship terms) filters out those who don't value you highly.

None of these people deserve this treatment, but their plight should be a warning to those who might get themselves into similar situations.

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