Archive for: March, 2016

Revenge porn victim from Cheshunt speaks out after fitness model Christopher Spearman dodges jail


A fitness model whose private photographs were leaked online in a revenge porn attack has hit out at her tormentor.

The woman, who did not want to be named, told the Mercury she was coming to terms with the death of her mother in a car crash, as well as the death of her ex-boyfriend Simon Andrews, a motorbike racer killed on the track in 2014.

The woman, who lives in Cheshunt, lost modelling work after ex-lover Christopher Spearman shared sexual images of her on social media.

The woman said Spearman, a 26-year-old fitness fanatic who has appeared on the cover of For Men magazine, was “manipulative” and bombarded her with calls after their breakup.

“I was still trying to come to terms with mum’s death and Simon’s,” said the model, who is in her 20s.

“He sent images to friends and family and anyone I had been in contact with. It lost me a year’s work on a film and some boxing contracts I had.”

The images were shared on fake Twitter accounts in September, and the victim said callous Spearman called her to tell her what he had done.

“He posted one lot of photos on Twitter and then called me five minutes later and told me he had done it,” she told the Mercury.

“He kind of laughed about it. It was up for at least an hour.

“Then the next day or two it got posted again and sent to friends and fans and followers I had.”

The model said Spearman, who is studying to be a doctor and is listed as a director of U-Turn Clothing, would message her asking to get back together.

She said: “I told him I didn’t want anything to do with him and then he got really nasty. He said he had nothing to lose.

“I thought, I have nothing to lose, I lost my family. I have nothing left.”

She added: “He was really manipulative. When Simon died, my mum said to him, ‘Promise me you’ll look after her’. So he would use that against me.”

Spearman, of Addison Gardens, London, pleaded guilty to two counts of sharing private sexual images when he appeared at Stevenage Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

He was given two concurrent 12-week prison sentences, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to pay £465 in fines and court costs.

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Blackhawks reinstate prospect Garret Ross after revenge porn charges dropped

Garret Ross

Criminal charges have been dropped against a Blackhawks prospect accused of sending revenge porn to a woman involved with one of his teammates, a spokeswoman for the DeKalb County state’s attorney said Tuesday.

Garret Ross, 23, who plays for the Hawks’ AHL affiliate in Rockford, was charged with the felony last month after authorities alleged he shared an image of a woman engaged in a sexual act without her consent. The team suspended him indefinitely after learning about the criminal case last week.

Prosecutors dropped the case after learning Ross was in his home state of Michigan when he shared the image, meaning Illinois law enforcement has no jurisdiction. The case was officially dropped Tuesday afternoon, DeKalb County State’s Attorney Richard Schmack said.

The woman in the video lives in Sycamore and had filed a complaint with her local police department.

“This is not a crime that occurred in the state of Illinois,” Schmack said. “Further investigation revealed that Ross and the recipient were both in Michigan at the time.”

The Hawks announced Tuesday night they have reinstated Ross from his indefinite suspension with the Rockford IceHogs.

Ross’ attorney did not return calls seeking comment.

The woman in the video told authorities in September she had been in a romantic relationship with one of Ross’ IceHogs teammates but ended it when she learned he had a girlfriend. During their relationship, she said she exchanged nude video and pictures with the player, according to police reports obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

The player and his girlfriend broke up after the girlfriend learned he was meeting other women via Tinder, according to the woman’s statement to police. Ross’ girlfriend also dumped him for the same Tinder-related reason, the woman said.

Both players blamed the Sycamore woman for “spreading lies” to their girlfriends, though the woman denied their allegation, the report states.

The woman asked that both Ross and his teammate — whose name was redacted from the police records — be charged criminally. The teammate has not been charged, police said.

Ross was charged Feb. 2 after a four-month investigation in which investigators obtained a search warrant for his cellphone. He was released on bond and given permission to travel out of state while he awaited trial.

The winger continued to play for the IceHogs after he was charged. He has played in 59 games and has seven goals and 13 assists, but he has not played since mid-March. Ross, whom the Hawks drafted in the fifth round in 2012, never has played a game for the Hawks and will be a restricted free agent after the season.

Revenge porn became a felony in Illinois in June, making the crime punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. The law also requires the forfeiture of any money or goods received in exchange for posting the images.

The woman could still file a complaint in Michigan, though the state’s laws are not as strict as the Illinois law.

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Will PETA Now Sue To Control The Copyright In These Cat Selfies?

As noted recently, PETA isn’t giving up in its quixotic quest to argue that it can represent the interests of an Indonesian selfie-taking monkey, and further that the photos in question have a copyright and that copyright belongs to the monkey (and, by extension, PETA). UK IP professor Andrés Guadamuz recently wrote an interesting paper arguing that there is a copyright in the photograph and it belongs to the guy who owned the camera, David Slater, based on UK copyright law. It’s an interesting read, though others have convincingly argued the opposite, noting that UK law requires a “person” to have created the work.

Either way, it seems this question may not be going away any time soon. Guadamuz has now also posted an amusing blog post highlighting the next potential battleground: a cat who loves to take selfies. I mean, just look at them. While there are some clearer shots, I think this one is clearly the best, based entirely on the cat’s “I’m concentrating here” tongue:

Guadamuz notes that it’s not entirely clear how much control the cat really has in these pictures, and they may really be the camera owner holding the camera itself, and snapping the photo when the cat is incentivized to reach in. In that case, there’s a stronger copyright claim for the original camera owner — an Instagram user by the username “youremahm”. But, as Guadamuz notes, the real question is whether or not PETA will now sue on behalf of the cat.

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Man charged with posting “revenge porn” says ex-girlfriend is lying

RICHMOND, Va. — A Richmond man has been charged under the revenge porn statute but he claims his ex-girlfriend is actually the one seeking revenge on him.

Twenty-three-year-old Corey Alexander said he got quite a surprise last week to find out from his probation officer that he was being hit with another charge: unlawful dissemination of an image, also known as revenge porn.

“It hurt me real bad, man,” said Alexander Monday. “I want to cry, but I can’t.”

Alexander said his ex is drumming up charges that are more than a year old, and CBS 6 legal experts said he may have a good defense.

“She sent the videos to me and we agreed,” Alexander said. “I’ve got proof. I’m innocent.”

“The revenge porn statute is designed to prohibit people from posting online to intimidate or harass,” said CBS 6 legal analyst Todd Stone.

Alexander said he did neither. He points out the videos were not posted to social media, but to an X-rated porn site where you can upload amateur videos.

Alexander showed CBS 6 where his ex-girlfriend sent the videos to him via email. He said he believes the charge has surfaced now, more than a year later, for one reason:

“She’s jealous because I’ve moved on,” he said.

Stone said if what Alexander is saying is the truth, then he has a solid defense.

“It looks like she waited and took a warrant out and if she really doesn’t have an explanation for that, then that’s something a judge will take into consideration.”

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French Politicians Want To Create Ancillary Copyright In Thumbnail Images

Despite the fact that copyright has been repeatedly extended and strengthened over the years, the thought never seems to cross publishers’ minds that they could ever have too much of it, or that the public might have some countervailing rights here. As a consequence of this insatiable appetite, there have been a number of recent moves to create an ancillary copyright, also known as a “snippet tax,” “link tax” and “Google tax,” since it aims to make it obligatory to pay for making even short excerpts or linking to copyright material — for example, in search results. Rather amazingly, publishers are still pushing for this new monopoly “right” despite abundant evidence from their own research that it [the online cultural collection] their businesses.

Undeterred by these facts, some politicians in France are pushing for the creation of [The European Commission]. That idea was [the online cultural collection] a long time ago in the US, but as the public domain advocacy group Comunia explains, in France, the following is still a real possibility:

A new right that would require search engines and indexing services to pay royalties for the use of thumbnail images of copyright protected works. According to French proposal, which has been approved by the French Senate, this new right would be managed by one or more collecting societies, regardless of the intention of the rightholders whether to be financially compensated for the use of their works by search engines.

In an [The European Commission] (pdf) Comunia explains why this is a really stupid idea:

Its scope will impact many online services and mobile apps, from search engines to creative commons models and [the online cultural collection] Europeana. Money would be collected arbitrarily and without any realistic way of redistributing it accurately. Basic, every day activities of online users, such as posting, linking, embedding photos online, would be subject to a cloud of legal uncertainty.

It would isolate France in the European Union, at a time when courts across Europe have made
clear these were lawful activities under national, European and international laws. It would isolate France globally, as a country where using images online would be subject to restrictive and unworkable practice.
Unfortunately, France isn’t the only part of Europe that is considering the introduction of ancillary copyright. This week, the European Commission launched a public consultation on the idea of [the online cultural collection] — in other words, ancillary copyright:

[The European Commission] is seeking views on the role of publishers in the copyright value chain, including the possible extension to publishers of the neighbouring rights. Publishers do not currently benefit from neighbouring rights which are similar to copyright but do not reward an authors’ original creation (a work). They reward either the performance of a work (e.g. by a musician, a singer, an actor) or an organisational or financial effort (for example by a producer) which may also include a participation in the creative process.

The European Commission paints European publishers as somehow missing out on the ancillary copyright currently enjoyed by those in the music or theatre worlds. The intention is clearly to suggest that this kind of extra right is perfectly normal, and that it should — of course — be granted to those poor, struggling publishers, who barely have any copyright at all, apparently. However, that framing rather skates over the fact that posting an article on a website is hardly a creative act on a par with performing a song, or appearing in a play. So it’s not entirely clear why the European Commission thinks it deserves an extra layer of legal protection on top of standard copyright — other than the fact that publishers want that new monopoly in the hope of extracting money from Google.

Fortunately, the consultation is open to everyone, including those outside the EU, which means [The European Commission] using the online questionnaire. As a bonus, you can also give your views on the so-called “[the online cultural collection]” — another area where lobbyists are working hard to make copyright even less fit for the digital age than it is now.

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Man ordered to attend counseling after revenge porn confession

Man ordered to seek counseling after posting revenge porn

Revenge porn landed a New Jersey man in mental-health counseling.

Christopher Morcos, 23, of Passaic, was sentenced to five years’ probation and must talk with a counselor after pleading guilty to posting nude shots of his ex, along with her personal information, on a porn site.

Morcos and the woman dated for two years before they split in November 2014. Three months later, she got a strange text, she said.

“I had received a text message from a random number saying that they had seen me on my page on,” said the 20-year-old woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

She  later found the porn page, which included her full name, phone number and address, she said Morcos pleaded guilty and was sentenced last week.

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Authorities must be swifter in the crack down of ‘revenge porn’

The case in point involved the murder of a female high-school student in Mitaka, Tokyo, in 2013. After the case was referred back from a higher court and retried under the lay-judge system, the Tachikawa branch of the Tokyo District Court recently sentenced a 23-year-old man to 22 years in prison.

Out of his lingering attachment to the girl and resentment towards her, the man not only killed the girl but had repeatedly posted images of her on the internet. Besides murder charges, he was accused of other offenses, including violating the law banning child prostitution and pornography.

With the images exposed to an indefinitely large number of people, it was difficult to remove them. It was reasonable for the ruling to condemn the man’s conduct as “an extremely vicious crime that impaired the dignity of the victim”.

Prosecutors initially decided not to indict the man in connection with the posting of the images because the victim’s parents were concerned that their daughter’s dignity could be harmed if the man’s actions were treated as a criminal case.

The latest retrial was preceded by a different lay-judge trial regarding the murder case. The ruling handed down in the original trial sentenced the man to 22 years jail, referring to the vicious nature of his action in posting the images. But the Tokyo High Court overruled that, saying, “Posting of the images was not subject to indictment but may have been taken into account when assessing the culpability [of the accused].”

Prosecutors later brought a supplementary indictment against the man after receiving a criminal complaint from the girl’s family for suspected violation of the anti-child prostitution and pornography law. As it turned out, the decision handed down in the latest trial was the same as the one at the original trial regarding assessment of the man’s culpability. The girl’s family may find it difficult to accept the latest judgement.

The sequence of unusual developments in the case illustrates the difficulties involved in trying cases involving sex crimes.

As a result of the Mitaka murder case, the Revenge Porn Prevention Law in Tokyo was enforced in November 2014. It allows imprisonment of up to three years and other punishment for anyone who has exposed sexually explicit images to public view without permission of people involved.

Last year, the police authorities received 1,143 requests for consultation in connection with revenge porn. Many such requests concerned cases involving persons being threatened to “have their images disclosed”. In 188 cases, the police were told that images had actually been disclosed.

Last year, the police took action in connection with 276 cases involving such offenses as intimidation and violation of the revenge porn prevention law. To prevent damage from such crimes, we need to increasingly crack down on these offenses.

Once an image is posted on the Internet, it is highly probable it will be repeatedly duplicated. To stem the spread of images, it is indispensable to take quick action, such as submitting a request for website administrators to delete them.

It is also important to make widely known the dangers involved in having such pictures taken without much thought and sending them to others.

In the Mitaka case, the high-school girl and others had sought advice from the local police authorities about the man’s stalking behavior. However, the police failed to prevent her tragic death due to such factors as a lack of coordination among the police stations in their jurisdiction. The murder case has left an important lesson about how to deal with stalkers.

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Judge Allows the Lost Boys of Sudan to Pursue Copyright Against ‘The Good Lie’ Film Producers


Incredible in scope and rife with inherent drama, it is little surprise that Hollywood sought to make a film based on lives of the estimated 20,000 boys and girls who fled Sudan during the Second Sudanese Civil War during the early 2000s.

The Lost Boys of Sudan’s journey encompassed thousands of miles and thousands of dangers — enduring disease, escaping wild animal attacks and evading forced recruitment into the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army.

While The Good Lie, a 2014 drama starring Reese Witherspoon that was based on their story, didn’t have much box office success, it is becoming grounds for an intriguing legal battle swirling around authorship and rights.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May will allow The Lost Boys to continue their copyright and fraud claims lawsuit, originally filed in February 2015. Fifty-four of the displaced Sudanese people living in Atlanta filed lawsuits against Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment and other producers on the film for breaching their initial contract terms for compensation and joint authorship.

The plaintiffs state in the lawsuit that they, “partnered with Defendants to create The Good Lie’s script, in part, based upon their promise that a non-profit foundation organized and run by the refugees would be the sole beneficiary of any fundraising efforts associated with The Good Lie.  However, neither the refugees nor their Foundation have been compensated in any fashion for sharing their traumatic personal stories and assisting with the creation of the script for The Good Lie.”

According to the lawsuit, the Lost Boys met with film producer Bobby Newmyer and screenwriter Margaret Nagle in 2003 to conduct recorded interviews to provide facts, background, and stories for the eventual screenplay. In her decision, U.S District Judge Leigh Martin May ruled that the Lost Boys have enough facts to support findings of copyright infringement and a possible future injunction.

“The Interviews, however, did not consist merely of  ‘ideas, facts and opinion made during a conversation,’ like the interviews by journalists in the cases Defendants cite,” Judge May states. “Rather, the Interviews were a creative process designed to create material for a screenplay and film. All that an ‘original work’ must possess is ‘some minimal degree of creativity’ … even a slight amount will suffice. Plaintiffs’ telling of their personal stories in response to questions designed to elicit material to create a fictional script for a feature film likely includes enough creativity to render the Interviews an original work of authorship.”

Judge May concludes, “Plaintiffs have stated a cognizable claim for protection against continuing infringement by Defendants that, if proven, warrants entry of a permanent injunction.”

It’s not an uncommon practice in “based on true events” movies for screenwriters to conduct interviews to mine facts and incorporate them into the screenplay.  It’s also not uncommon for writers to move things around, create composite characters and other events, which is why the term “based on true events” exists.  When these types of films come out, there’s always the question of how much is true, what role the subject plays and how much input they have in the story.

If The Lost Boys of Sudan get a favorable verdict, this changes the game on how contributions from the subject influence authorship and original work on “fact-based” films.

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