back to article NAKED CELEBRITY PICS LAW BOMB dropped on ad giant Google

A Los Angeles attorney is threatening to sue Google's top execs, after accusing them of failing to remove stolen naked photos of female celebrities from its search results. But Mountain View has insisted it tore down "tens of thousands of pictures within hours." Lawyer Martin Singer, writing in a letter to Google cofounders …

  1. Tony Green

    Eh????

    Could someone please translate that headline into English?

    Because I haven't the foggiest idea what it means.

    1. NP-Hardass

      Re: Eh????

      "'We are suing Google execs after the whole celeb nude pic thing', say celeb lawyers"

    2. Frankee Llonnygog

      Re: Eh????

      I would like to award the headline writer my highest ever point score

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Eh????

        Haven't the lawyers legs been chopped off with Herr Gunther Oettingers sage comments as regards this issue? It's not like he's Joe Nobody?

    3. kellerr13

      Re: Eh????

      Attorney does not understand copyright law.

      Those that took the pictures own the copyright, unless it was first contracted with them otherwise. The copyright owner is responsible for defending their own copyright, and for control over the material.

      If the copyright owner is the one that uploaded it, then it's that persons responsibility, and they have effectivly entered it into the public domain.

      1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        Re: Eh????

        If the copyright owner is the one that uploaded it, then it's that persons responsibility, and they have effectivly entered it into the public domain.

        Publishing equals giving up copyright. Interesting concept.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Celebrities and privacy is a misnomer. If they want privacy, then why do they do ads, go to award ceremonies, red carpet events, etc. The fact is, they like the spotlight to further the career but don't want the bad that comes with it. Either accept the fact or retire and stay out of the spotlight for good.

    1. Thorne

      Nude photos loaded into the cloud and privacy is a misnomer.

      FIFY

    2. dan1980

      @AC

      You have earned my third ever down-vote*.

      First, I think the word you are probably looking for is 'oxymoron'.

      Presumably you mean to say that any 'celebrity' who wants privacy either has unrealistic expectations or is being hypocritical, saying "look at me" and "don't look at me" at the same time. This must seem a reasonable argument in your head but one can't help feeling you haven't actually thought it through.

      Excluding a tiny, tiny minority, we all put some amount of our lives out into the world and we all feel we have a right to control - within reason - what parts of our life are out in public and what parts are not.

      Celebrities really only differ in the amount of exposure the public portion gets.

      They still have exactly the same right to choose what parts of their lives they show to the public and what parts they keep private, which shouldn't be surprising considering they are human beings, just like the rest of us. It feels like you are implying that because they are rich and famous they should have less control over what they keep private.

      Rubbish.

      Now, above I said that people have a right to control this within reason. What I mean by that is that if you, say, invite a gossip magazine/program to cover your wedding in return for a huge swag of cash, then it is not reasonable expect people won't comment on where the various family members were sitting and if there is a rift between X and Y or denigrate the fashion or call the flowers 'tacky' or whatever. That's now fair game.

      Likewise, if you are a 'celebrity'/'socialite' of the likes of (to use the placeholder) Paris Hilton, who literally gets paid to go to the 'right' night spots, then, if you get drunk on the free champagne, push over a patron and are sick all over the pavement, you should expect those photos to be published and your behaviour to be criticised.

      BUT, if you (or anyone else) thinks such arrangements mean that private photos and videos are also fair game then you are just plain wrong.

      Further, there are some people who would say that a starlet who has leaked/released/sold naked photos or a 'sex tape' in the past has no right to protest over someone hacking their private, naked 'selfies' and posting them online. They are also wrong.

      For god's sake - these are people.

      Whatever anyone thinks about them, whatever jealousy anyone has towards their (to be honest) rather privileged lives, whatever mistakes they have made, whatever publicity they have courted in the past - they are PEOPLE and their rights are not diminished because someone thinks that this is the price they must pay for fame and fortune.

      Your argument is no better than saying to females working in a male-dominated industry that sexist jokes just 'come with it' and they need to accept it or choose another career.

      If I may be so presumptuous, on behalf of every decent, right-thinking person the world over: how dare you?

      * - second one was a mistake.

      1. dotdavid

        For god's sake - these are people

        Not all of them, surely?! Bieber too?!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @dan1980

        Your defence of the celebrity gods rights might have some merit if they were treated equally under the law.

        When Joe / Jane Bloggs can demand $100 million dollar compensation for having their photos indexed by a search engine, people might have more sympathy.

        BTW where did that figure come from (the MAFIAA perhaps?), hell, why not $1 billion, or is that taking the expletive deleted?

        1. dan1980

          Re: @dan1980

          @AC

          I get your point but it is irrelevant.

          Your contention is largely the same as that of the original AC (I have no idea if you're the same person or not), which is that because someone is rich and famous and enjoys a life of privilege and special treatment, the trade off is them no longer having claim to some rather basic (I feel) rights.

          As before: rubbish.

          This is why I was at pains to say that they are people.

          By that I mean that simply as people, they have a right to some privacy where there private lives are concerned and this right isn't forfeited if they appear in a movie grossing more than $XX million or do a perfume advertisement or walk out of a limousine in a custom-made designer gown.

          It's not a trade-off - these rights cant be deemed not to apply just because someone judges them to have passed some invisible line of fame and fortune.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Wrong.

      Whatever you do for a living, you have the same right to data privacy as anyone else. To say that includes storing what you want, on what services or devices you want, with the reasonable expectation that it remain private, goes without exception.

      Quite how you think that very personal data is fair game is quite confounding.

      Rather depends what you mean by a 'spotlight', doesn't it? We're not talking about a 'celeb' being snapped on the street grabbing a supermochasoyalatte - under those circumstances yes, your argument holds more water as one could reasonably contend that that is 'part of the lifestyle' (although even then there are gross oversteps of the mark).

      What we are talking about here is contravention of someone's privacy - a break in, a digital brick through the window and rummage through (very) personal possessions.

      That is not a 'spotlight' - it's creepy and illegal.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @AC

        "That is not a 'spotlight' - it's creepy and illegal."

        So, if the President (NSA) can ignore privacy legislation (the Constitution!) without any repercussions, why should anyone else take any notice of such laws?

        In the UK, the government has recently passed laws trumping European citizens rights to privacy, as laid down in the European Court of Human Rights. For the children and terrorists of course...

        All part of its journey to a totalitarian society, ie do as I say, not as I do.

  3. Thorne

    A total waste of time

    It's a whack a mole game. Hit a couple of sites and more sites pop up. Threatening to sue Google cause your crappy Apple account got hacked is kinda ironic......

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: A total waste of time

      If by "hacked" you mean someone went to icloud.com, clicked the "forgot password" link and entered the answers to security questions that the celebrity answered truthfully not thinking that the information about stuff like the high school they went to, name of their childhood pet, etc. is out there on the internet already from interviews they've done, etc. then yeah, Apple was "hacked".

    2. Fluffy Bunny

      Re: A total waste of time

      It's a little unclear to me. If a celebrity doesn't want nude photos of themselves appearing on the Internet, why did they take them in the first place. And letting them go into the cloud in the second place was just plain ignorant.

      1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

        Re: A total waste of time

        Because, like most, they are not paid up members of the digerati. They do not understand. They were not given sound advice about use of technology. The most likely source of any advice is their publicist, who do not really plumb the depths of the digital well.

        Still, the current publicity should serve to warn others.

      2. DougS Silver badge

        @Fluffy Bunny

        Sounds like victim-blaming to me.

        You're saying I should assume that ANY photo I take will end up on the internet? What about texts I send, phone numbers I call, web sites I visit? Why did I visit girlswithgoats.com if I didn't want that fact made public on the internet? Why I did buy that "Bondage for Dummies" book on Amazon if I didn't want that fact made public on the internet?

        Ditto for cloud. You aren't uploading your photos to "the internet" you're uploading them to a server. Yeah, that server can be hacked. Your PC or phone could maybe be hacked. Or maybe you leave a polaroid print in your desk drawer and your girlfriend or 5 year old gets into it. There are risks associated with storing anything, but especially electronic information. The solution is not "leave no digital footprint". Why even have a computer or smartphone if you must be so limited that you can't do anything you wouldn't want the world to know?

        [Scary sidebar: just for the heck of it, I checked and there IS a girlswithgoats.com registered but not in use...there are some messed up people out there!]

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Fluffy Bunny

          "There are risks associated with storing anything, but especially electronic information. The solution is not "leave no digital footprint"."

          Actually, that IS the ONLY solution. Welcome to the Global Village. No expectation of privacy is to be expected. Sorry, rules of the game. Don't like it, don't join; you don't get to dictate the rules since you're outvoted a million to one.

  4. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Huh?

    claimed the company has failed to adequately police its site and scrub the leaked nude images of 12 unnamed stars Singer's firm represents.

    Huh... so how is Google supposed to scrub when the people (celebs) needing scrubbed are unnamed? If they don't know who they are, how can they take the pics down? I detect a lawyer trying to make a name and a pile of money for himself. And yes, the web is sometimes a "whack-a-mole" game.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Huh?

      One would assume that the celebs or their representatives contacted Google at some point with a takedown notice, and are unhappy it wasn't acted on quickly and/or completely enough. Otherwise this lawsuit won't go very far if Google is supposed to just "know" that they should take down these pictures without being told.

      I assume the lawsuit is over sites that Google controls like blogspot, and not stuff that's findable in search results. Because Google could clean up every link on Google search but another dozen could pop up the next day. Once the pictures are out there, anyone can set up a site with them at any time, and short of applying image matching software to every image they index to look for an (ever growing) list of images they're supposed to reject, I don't see how they can guarantee Google search is forever free of these images.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Huh?

        The article states it's the "search results" and not the sites like BlogSpot. Still, it would be a royal pain to track. Automation wouldn't necessarily work as just a touch with photoshop would produce a pic the matching software might not match.

    2. dan1980

      Re: Huh?

      @Mark 85

      Now, I may be wrong, but I presume that the names of the people were provided to Google, just not in the press release given to the media.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google need to Act now

    (I'm not referring to removing more pictures - removing tens of thousands within hours is very good, and presumably they will keep doing so)

    But they need to take a stand against money trolls like Martin Singer, and make an example of him by counter suing him into bankruptcy. Im sure there are all sorts of things they can sling at him for being frivolous or threatening behaviour ($100 million?!!), or something. Get the legal team on it Google.

    1. dan1980

      Re: Google need to Act now

      In the US, frivolous lawsuits seem to be a pillar of the economy.

      One can (only half facetiously) imagine a whole bunch of lawyers up in arms over proposed regulations aimed at reducing such legal actions.

    2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Google need to Act now

      I assume he's suing Google because he's too chicken to go after 4chan ... smart man.

  6. seraphim

    So long as one person in the entire universe has a local copy saved of these photos, they can pop up anytime, anywhere. Is Google now expected to crack into any machines suspected of having such and kill those photos? Or is it perhaps a bit unreasonable to expect someone to stuff the genie back in the bottle? Once something is widespread on the Internet, it's never going away.

    1. Fluffy Bunny
      Facepalm

      And don't forget that the celebutards still have the original copies of those photos and can "lose" them again at any time.

      1. tfewster Silver badge

        No, apparently they've been "stolen" so the sleb doesn't have them any more. Or maybe Singer doesn't understand the law.

        "Google knows that the images are hacked stolen property, private and confidential photos and videos unlawfully obtained and posted by pervert predators who are violating the victims' privacy rights and basic human decency by stealing and displaying confidential private photos and videos,"

        Google should be charging the slebs for the advertising they're getting. I'd forgotten who Jennifer Lawrence was until this.

        1. dotdavid

          I must admit I do keep reading "J-Law" as Jude Law.

  7. Diogenes

    Google could have gone the nuclear option

    And not return any results for any of the celebrities - not in "the web", "videos", "images" etc.

    I wonder what that would have done to the "celebs" business model

    1. Nya

      Re: Google could have gone the nuclear option

      Too right. Best solution it seems. And it would of course be doing exactly what their lawyers are asking for.

  8. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Google controls everything! It is their fault!!

    I wonder how lawyers manage to generate these long strings of adjective-laden diarrhea of utterly faked outrage. Is it crack? Is there a special school??

  9. Christoph Silver badge

    Why sue Google rather than the sites posting the pictures?

    Because Google have a lot of money and can be found easily.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      I'm starting to feel sorry for Google. Politicians and lawyers can't reach the top shelf but they can make life miserable for the guy lending out a step ladder.

      Paris, because "Paris, because..." has got old and I'm feeling sorry for her, too.

  10. Alfred 2
    Meh

    Am I the only one

    who can't be bothered even to look for these pictures?

    I think I'd feel a little dirty if I did, and lets face it here are planty of picures of naked people on the internet posed by willing subjects.

    Maybe I'm just getting too old ....

    1. tony72

      Re: Am I the only one

      I did look (doesn't take much effort), but you didn't miss much. They were mostly pretty much as crap and uninteresting as pretty much every celeb set tape/leak that has ever occurred. As you implied, if you want to watch porn, there is not exactly a shortage of the stuff online, so a few grainy nude selfies of some celebs most of whom you've never heard of aren't much cause for excitement.

      However I don't feel the slightest bit dirty, I felt a natural curiosity to see what all the fuss was about, and whether my low expectations would be met. And there is to me a certain degree of interest in seeing what certain celebs look like when they're not all made up and photoshopped for a magazine.

    2. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Am I the only one

      Not just you.

      Not only have I not seen the pictures, I don't even recognise the names...

  11. pdlane

    $100m+ grief

    What is all the fuss...???

    $100m is only petty cash compared to the bank roll tucked away in greedy google's Irish stash.....

  12. tony72

    Easy money?

    1. Set iCould password to "Password1"

    2. Upload nude selfies

    3. Wait to get "hacked", pics all over the net

    4. Sue Google

    For those slutebrities who can't quite bring themselves to "leak" a sextape, I guess this is plan B.

  13. launcap Silver badge
    Devil

    Techdirt..

    .. has a little more explanation:

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20141002/07015628701/lawyer-victims-nude-celebrity-hacks-threatens-google-with-100-million-lawsuit.shtml

    I suspect some scumb^Wlawer is trying to cash in with the hope that Chocolate F^HMountain will quietly pay them off to stop them making a fuss.

  14. Brandon 2

    Isn't this like suing Henkel because someone used a knife they manufactured to murder someone?

  15. begee

    This is just another episode of people not taking their responsibilities and trying to make a buck out of the big ones... The question is: Did Google diligently and promptly acted after being informed about those pictures? If the answer is Yes then the fault does not lie with Google. There are two ways to filter out content on the internet, either you blacklist it, meaning that the content may become accessible for some time before someone (or something) realizes it needs to be blacklisted, or you whitelist it, making every content on the internet scrutinized before being approved. White listing requires a lot more resources to do so, can in itself be considered a breach of privacy and freedom of expression. How would people feel if Google had to charge one dollar for every search you make, just to pay for the censorship of the content you will be given access to?

    There are three real culprits here: The hackers and sites that were replicating those pictures, Apple for not enforcing stricter security control in a service they offer (and don't feed me the bullshit of how they did not get hacked, that the hacker simply stumbled upon the password... In my world, this is called a brute force attack and you can program policies to prevent that from happening), and finally Jennifer Lawrence. Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of hers... But the fact of the matter is prevention is the best protection. If you never want to have pictures of you leaked all over the place, then simply make sure those pictures are never taken. People need to stop blaming the whole world for their own behaviour. There are perverts all over the place, protect yourself. Using liberty and human rights is not an excuse for acting carelessly.

    And finally, sadly but true, I am not judging if this is the case right now, but a lot of celebrities leak pictures of them for publicity.

  16. PjLLLLL

    Idiots and technology will never mix...

    Anyone that believes current tech is private and secure is badly mistaken. We barely pay for any of it, so "marketing" pays for most of our content. What do people think happens to all this info they just give away?

    If you don't want nude photos being "stolen", stop leaving the "negatives" lying around in the street.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The part that really annoys me is this. They are celebrities, so it's a huge thing and everyone's jumping on the bandwagon, including the authorities, to say how wrong it is and how it must be stopped. If/when they finally catch the person responsible, it'll be a huge show of giving him an "exemplary sentence".

    Now when Jane Nobody gets hacked and goes to the cops, she gets told to suck it up and that they have more important things to take care of, even when she can point directly at who did it and all the cops have to do is go gather the evidence.

  18. Skiper

    Google should be punished and pay a hefty fine... for making it so damn hard to find those pictures.

    Most links in google were removed almost immediately, so I had to actually go to 4chan.org to find them. Boredom and frustration, the ambiance there reminded me when I was an adolescent and I don't want to ever live this feeling again. So yeah, make them pay !

  19. kellerr13

    FYI

    If it exist in the real world, it exist on the net. And once it exist on the net, you can be sure, it will ALWAYS exist on the net in some location, in some form, regardless of all efforts to remove it.

    It's called the Streisand effect.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, with so many examples of poor security for anything on any network, from my purchase information at Target, to the NSA nuggets Snowden found, to these selfies, I think the best rule is that if you do not want something to be found, then simply do not have it on any network in the first place. Do I want nuclear bomb plans found? no? then don't put them on the network! From Royals in the UK being hacked, to iCloud, you will find that people are not secure, so take care what you expose, it might be your own bad decision!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @AC

      "...so take care what you expose, it might be your own bad decision!"

      It's different though if material gets hacked from your own PC or phone, as that's your responsibility. Regardless, the police will do their duty and thoroughly investigate any such intrusions.

      Oh, if you're a celebrity or politician that is.

      The peasants don't matter.

  21. This post has been deleted by its author

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why has no one mentioned the fakes?

    There's a whole army of artists out there who spend inordinate amounts of their time producing explicit fake images of virtually any celebrity. They are often indistinguishable from the real thing.

    So even if every genuine leaked image was scrubbed from the internet, it really wouldn't make a scrap of difference.

    Its the internet - get over it.

  23. whopperlaunch

    Google NOT responsible !!!!!

    Go after the hackers, NOT Google, otherwise it seems it's just gonna repeat !!!!!!

    1. Tim Bates

      Re: Google NOT responsible !!!!!

      Or Apple. Apple was the one providing:

      1) The broken security on the storage.

      2) The suggestion in IOS that iCloud is essential to your life and must be enabled for true enlightenment.

      3) No reminder that photos deleted from the device are not necessarily deleted from the iCloud service.

      But Google? WTF? Are they too afraid to sue Apple in case they get permanently banned from the fruit farm?

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