lizbranch

Marines Photo Scandal: What Can Revenge Porn Victims Do?

 

The exposing of a secret Facebook group where Marines are accused of posting nude photos of female service members — without their knowledge or consent — is renewing calls for the strengthening of victim protection laws across the country.

The problem, according to organizations that fight online sexual exploitation, is that such laws don’t exist in every state — and even if they do, they can be a patchwork of protections that don’t have teeth.

“We’ve been successful in encouraging legislators in these states to take up these laws, but that doesn’t mean that these states have come up with good ones,” said Mary Anne Franks, a professor of law at the University of Miami and the legislative and tech policy director with the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative.

Before her nonprofit group began pushing the issue with lawmakers in 2013, there were just three states with respective legislation. Now, 35 states and Washington, D.C., have some form of so-called “revenge porn” laws, which make it illegal to use a sexually exploitative image or video of someone online without their permission.




Nikita Biryukov

Victims advocacy groups say the term “revenge porn” can be a misnomer because the perpetrator might not necessarily be seeking revenge against someone they personally know. The term “non-consensual pornography” is usually preferred.

Prosecution typically originates out of the state where the offender is located.

Most states have laws that require proving there was an intention to harass a victim, but Franks said harassment in the traditional sense isn’t always a part of these cases and instead are examples of one’s privacy being violated.

Related: Senator Calls for Hearing Over Marines Nude Photo Scandal

But she cited the Illinois law, which took effect in 2015, as being particularly strong because it puts aside the suspect’s motive in favor of focusing on the harm done to the victim. And it also goes after people who post the indecent images secondhand.

In Rhode Island, the office of Attorney General Peter Kilmartin said law enforcement has had to turn away numerous victims of these cases because there are no applicable laws in that state. The cases have included one woman who said her ex-boyfriend sent revealing photos to her employer as revenge for her breaking off their relationship and another woman who said her estranged husband posted revealing photos on social media during their divorce, Kilmartin’s spokeswoman, Amy Kempe, told NBC News.

“We believe there to be many more similar and worse cases, but they are often not brought to our attention as police departments know that in most circumstances, charges cannot be filed,” Kempe said.

That could change if Rhode Island legislators pass a bill this year after one was vetoed by Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo, who had argued that it could impair freedom of speech.

Related: Nude Photo Posts of Female Marines Being Investigated by NCIS

Victims, no matter which state they live in, still have a legal recourse to sue their perpetrators for civil matters such as invasion of privacy or emotional distress.

But on a federal level, the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative is in favor of the Intimate Privacy Protection Act, which was introduced in Congress last year without moving forward. If eventually passed, it would make it a crime to distribute sexually explicit materials of people without their consent. The ACLU and others have opposed such a law for potentially infringing on free speech.

The case surrounding the “Marines United” Facebook group, however, is bringing up a new layer of complications when it comes to prosecuting perpetrators.




Image: Attorney Gloria Allred holds photograph with Erika Butner
Attorney Gloria Allred holds a picture of retired Marine Erika Butner in uniform, right, following a press conference Wednesday concerning personal photographs being posted without their consent to a “Marine Unit” Facebook page. Mike Blake / Reuters

As the Defense Department opens up a criminal investigation, the U.S. military must ultimately decide how to prosecute those behind the posting and sharing of private photos of fellow female Marines.

The photos reportedly included more than two dozen female Marines posing topless or in provocative poses. In some instances, pictures of women who weren’t nude were posted, but group members wrote derogatory and sexually violent comments about them.

The existence of the Marines United group, whose page has since been taken down, was first reported Saturday by the news website Reveal.

Former Marine Erika Butner, one of the women whose pictures appeared on the page, said at a news conference Wednesday that her photo was used without her consent.

“Victim blaming and the excuse that some are giving that ‘boys will be boys’ needs to stop,” said Butner, 23.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and other Washington lawmakers are calling for congressional committees to hold hearings and investigate how these women’s photos were acquired.

“People need to be held accountable for their behavior,” Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., said Thursday on MSNBC. “We need to be looking at the culture that brought about this behavior as well.”

Marines Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller has called the actions “embarrassing to our Corps, to our families and to the nation.”

It’s unclear how many active-duty personnel, veterans or civilians were involved, although the group reportedly counted nearly 30,000 followers of different ranks.

Military members face charges of indecent viewing, visual recording or broadcasting charges, which carry up to seven years in prison, as well as conduct unbecoming of an officer. A dishonorable discharge is also possible, said Richard Rosen, a military law professor at Texas Tech University School of Law.

“The military justice system seems like the best system to deal with this,” Rosen added.

These types of cases leading to convictions appear to be rare compared to other criminal incidents in the military.

An NBC News analysis of court martial dispositions found that at least eight Marines were court-martialed and convicted for indecent visual recording between October 2013 and December 2016. Another Marine was convicted of attempted indecent visual recording, while two others in military court proceedings were charged with indecent viewing.

Read the rest
michigan law specifically outlaws revenge porn

New Michigan Law Against ‘Revenge Porn’

Although issues related to sending sexually explicit photos via a mobile phone or other device is something many people associate more often with teens, the practice can lead to trouble for adults, too.

In recent years many cases have appeared in which a person has shared images with a significant other and then when the relationship ends the private image is shared with others as a means of hurting the other person.

Cases like this have come to be known as “revenge porn” or “cyber revenge,” and until recently, Michigan prosecutor’s have had a difficult time prosecuting the cases because there hasn’t been a law directly dealing with such cases.

Last year one such case popped up in Michigan’s Charlevoix County. The defendant in the case was ultimately charged with one count of unlawful posting of a message, a two-year charge.

However a new Michigan state law that Gov. Rick Snyder signed recently now specifically criminalizes the distribution of sexually-explicit materials intended to threaten, coerce, or intimidate.

In a news release issued last week Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney Allen Telgenhof noted that revenge porn cases often occur after a break-up, when one partner distributes intimate material sent during the couple’s relationship.

Under the new law, a person who distributes sexually explicit materials with the intent to threaten, coerce, or intimidate another person faces a $500 fine and up to 93 days in jail. A second offense can result in a $1,000 fine and a year in jail.

“Our office is pleased to see the bipartisan support these bills have received,” said Charlevoix County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Gregory Justis. “It’s another tool in our toolbox to respond to the tremendous rise in the use of social media to engage in domestic abuse and cyber harassment.”

State legislators have tried since 2014 to pass a law targeting revenge porn or non-consensual pornography. With the new law, Michigan joins 27 other states with statutes specifically designed to prevent and respond to revenge porn.

The bills were sponsored by Sen. Steve Bieda, D-Warren, and Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge.

“The new law balances our cherished freedoms of speech with the need to address behavior intended solely to harm another person, often seriously and irreversibly,” said Justis, who primarily handles cases involving domestic violence and criminal sexual conduct. “Revenge porn is about control and abuse, and the law targets only those who intend to engage in control and abuse.”

“It will also help shift the focus away from innocent victims, who are often blamed for their own victimization, to those who commit a serious crime,” he said.

[sgmb id=”1″]… Read the rest

Revenge porn not ‘free expression’

Revenge porn not free expression

Last week, the country was outraged by a loophole in Oklahoma law that allowed a rapist to walk because the incident involved oral sex upon an intoxicated girl. A few days later, the Legislature pushed through another sexually-charged measure that probably already should have been on the books, but wasn’t.

By the time you read this, Gov. Mary Fallin may have signed into law Senate Bill 1257, which will make the dissemination of so-called “revenge pornography” a misdemeanor. The bill doesn’t ban publication of explicit images per se, though many of the staunchly religious at the statehouse would do so if that pesky First Amendment didn’t prevent them. SB 1257 prohibits the use of such material with the intent of harassing or humiliating its subject – which most of the time is a woman.

There have been many cases where an individual has allowed her partner to take racy photos either of her as an individual or as part of a couple or group. Then later, the couple has divorced or separated, and the bitter man gets back at his former lover by broadcasting the private images all over the Internet. Sometimes men are the victims.

It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out what could happen. A prospective employer Googles the woman’s name, and up pop the private pictures. That might not be an issue for some employers, but for the more traditional among them, the phrase “moral turpitude” comes to mind. An otherwise highly qualified woman could be denied a job for which she is ideally suited just because of a “mistake” she made years ago, even if that mistake didn’t involve breaking the law.

SB 1257 makes it a crime to disseminate an “identifiable” image of someone who is nude or engaged in sexual conduct, if the image was gleaned in a way that a “reasonable person” would understand it was private; and if the image was made public with the intent to “harass, intimidate, or coerce” the subject, who clearly didn’t intend the photo for public consumption. Upon conviction, the perpetrator could be jailed by the county for up to a year, and fined up to $1,000. A judge can also order the photo’s eradication, if possible.

The law won’t stop everyone from taking revenge in this way, but it might slow down many people who would act on the spur of the moment, then later regret it.

The most ardent free speech advocates may cry foul over SB 1257, but the constitutional right to “free expression” is not absolute. In other words, you should not have the right to express yourself in a way that will destroy someone else’s life. Even the media must take into account the questions of libel, defamation of character, and invasion of privacy.

With the latter two standards, even if the material is accurate or true – in other words, not libelous – that doesn’t necessarily make it fair game. Lawsuits can erupt when publication of material is deemed to cross those lines. If the professional media must adhere to these standards, then in these days of widespread Internet access and social media interactions, the general public should adhere to them, too.

Revenge never ends well, and it should be eschewed, both in public and in private.

Please note: Parts of this story were removed because we felt the comments were victim blaming.

Read the rest

Sex education key to preventing revenge porn as 30% of cases involve under 19

For that first time, police numbers have exposed that around 30% of documented incidents of revenge porn concerned young adults under the age of 19.  In the months since April 2015, when it was criminalized, a Freedom of Information request by the BBC has revealed that over 1,000 incidents were reported to the police.

Revenge porn is the act of releasing private videos or pictures of sexual nature without the spouse or ex-partner’s permission.

17 -year-old Daniel Perry killed himself after he was blackmailed over erotic pictures he’d published online.  Additional victims have talked within the aftermath of the crime of the suicidal thoughts. In three cases, children as young as 11 were the victims.

Getty Images

Other victims have spoken of their suicidal feelings in the aftermath of the crime.

While the three youngest ­victims were only 11, the oldest were in their 60s.

Helplines say that members of law enforcement, teachers and social workers in their 20s and 30s are just as likely to fall prey as naive teenagers.

Experts say it can also be part of the “coercive control” exerted by manipulative and violent partners over their victims.

“This is a large and growing problem, and is causing huge amounts of harm to victims,” says former Lib Dem MP Julian Huppert, who campaigned for the legislation which made revenge porn an offense.

“Too many perpetrators managed to persuade themselves that they were doing nothing wrong because it wasn’t illegal, and that has now changed.

“However, legislation can only ever be part of the solution – what we need is much better consent-based sex and relationships education, so that people are clear that this kind of humiliating behavior in unacceptable. Social change is the best way to protect people.”

Getty
Social media has made bullying among teenagers even more invasive for victims

An NSPCC spokesman said: “It is shocking that children as young as 11 are becoming ­victims of revenge porn – and underlines the urgent need for action by social media sites to improve safety.

“Young people also need to be aware of the serious risks of sending explicit material or ­photos of themselves. Once an image is sent there is no control over where it will end up or who will see it.”

Sarah Green, director of the campaign group End Violence Against Women, said that women’s charities have been aware for some time that revenge porn “often forms part of a pattern of domestic and sexual violence”.

“The threat of it can be used to coercively control victims, just as the threat of withdrawing access to children can be used to manipulate and harass,” she said.

“We were delighted when the Government brought in this law but we think the protection of anonymity, as there is for victims in other sex crimes, would make people more likely to come forward.

“We also think that compulsory sex education, challenging the culture in schools which regards sexually active girls as ‘slags’ and ‘whores’ is essential. The concept of consent extends to spreading sexual images too.

Alamy
revenge porn victims deserve anonymity

“The comparison we would draw is with drink-driving, when a change in the law changed ­attitudes over time. It’s not the case that our internet culture somehow makes revenge porn inevitable.”

Carolyn Bunting, general manager of internet safety body Internet Matters, said: “The fact more than three out of 10 ­incidents of so-called revenge appears to involve under 19 year olds brings to the fore how important it is for children to be protected online so they’re able to explore the digital world ­without fear.

“There will no doubt be many more who are victims and have not reported it to the police and are suffering in silence.

“Our main focus is to help parents stop their children falling into this trap in the first place, through communication and education.

“It’s always a tricky conversation to have, but we’d encourage parents to talk to their children about the danger of sending explicit images.”

 

Read the rest
the shade rooms facebook page shut down for repeated copyright infringement

Facebook Shuts Down The Shade Room’s 4.4 Million-Strong Page for Copyright Violations

Owned by Nigerian-American Angie Nwandu, The Shade Room‘s Facebook page got shut down this week. Undoubtedly one of the fastest growing entertainment platforms, the page had 4.4 million followers in just two years since its launch.

The Shade Room is a gossip and entertainment platform, especially about African-American movie, TV, music and reality stars.

BuzzFeed News and Nieman Lab contacted both the founder and Facebook and this is what they had to say –

Facebook: “A Facebook spokesperson has confirmed to BuzzFeed News that the reason for The Shade Room’s removal was due to copyright violations.”

Angie Nwandu had said on Monday to Nieman Lab that although they had been reported for violations in the past, she felt they were being targeted. She was clueless to what brought the take down as she was the only one approving posts for the page.

“nothing was posted that violated any rules to my knowledge.”

“We have been targeted on [Facebook] and have been receiving numerous reports over things that don’t violate the terms,”

“The amount of reports have been excessive.”

As Facebook has not reinstated the page, the platform has popped up again, and at the time of publishing, now has over 1,000 followers. Here’s the video they posted on their new page –


Read the rest

Bill Withers sues Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar is being sued for copyright infringement over Bill Withers song

 

In what’s becoming an increasingly common occurrence, a popular musician is being sued for allegedly stealing another, older artist’s song. The Grammy-winning rapper Kendrick Lamar was sued Thursday for using a “direct and complete” copy of Bill Withers’ 1975 song “Don’t You Want to Stay” for his 2009 hit “I Do This.” The company that says it owns the 77-year-old singer’s 1975 song “Don’t You Want To Stay” claims that Kendrick Lamar ripped off the track for his own song, 2009’s “I Do This.” “I Do This” was distributed on a free mixtape by Lamar back in 2009. Can you be sued when you didn’t profit off of the music? The copyright infringement suit, filed in a federal court in Los Angeles, claims Lamar rapped over a “direct and complete copy” of Withers’ music. Mattie Music Group stated in the legal documents that Lamar’s track “consists of nothing more than new rap and hip hop lyrics set to the existing music of ‘Don’t You Want To Stay.’” They are pursuing damages and want Lamar to stop playing his song.

Filed by Golden Withers Music and Musidex Music, the complaint said Lamar sampled the music “with a thumb to the nose, catch me if you can attitude.”

Listen to the songs here and judge for yourself.

Unfortunately, this isn’t surprising considering in 2014, Lamar was also sued by Eric Woolfson and his group, The Alan Parsons Project, who believed he had improperly sampled their song “Old and Wise” without consent on the track “Keisha’s Song (Her Pain),” which appeared on Kendrick’s Section.80 project.

This time it looks more serious though. Golden Withers Music and Musidex Music are seeking unspecified damages, and the suit was filed in the same court that awarded Marvin Gaye’s family more than $7 million for the “Blurred Lines” trial in March 2015.

That same court will also decide if  Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” copied Spirit’s “Taurus.”

Read the rest

More People Recognizing Copyright’s ‘Free Speech Problem’

 

For many years now, we’ve written about the fact that copyright law and the First Amendment are actually in quite a lot of conflict. After all, copyright is regularly used to stifle speech, and the First Amendment isn’t supposed to allow for the barring of speech. Over the years, legal experts have been increasingly starting to realize this. A few years back, we wrote about a paper wondering why copyright law doesn’t require a showing of harm, as should be required under the First Amendment. We’ve also pointed out that the more that you explore the fact that copyright and the First Amendment seem to be in conflict, the more you recognize how screwed up copyright law has been. I’m even aware of two whole books that both focus on this problem: Neil Netanel’s Copyright’s Paradox and David Lange & H. Jefferson Powell’s No Law (as in “Congress shall make no law…”).

But, for whatever reason, copyright system supporters always seem to wave off this issue as if it’s some kook theory, unwilling to confront the stark reality that copyright law has a serious First Amendment problem. And, no, the argument that “well the two coexisted for over 200 years” doesn’t cut it, because copyright was very, very different for the first 200 years of its existence in the US. Nor does the claim that copyright law is some sort of magic exception to the First Amendment because the Copyright Clause in the Constitution “came first.” That sounds good… until you remember that the First Amendment is called that because it’s an amendment and you remember that it’s the later part that should take precedent.

Hopefully, though, more people are beginning to recognize this issue. Law Professor John Tehranian (who has written a wonderful book on copyright excesses himself, called Infringement Nation) has an excellent article at legal trade publication The Recorder detailing the simple fact that Copyright Law Has a Free Speech Problem. It starts with a perfectly clear example of this, where two celebrities sought to punish a news tabloid for publishing proof that they had married by buying up the copyright to the photographic evidence of their wedding, and then suing for copyright infringement:


First, Monge and Reynoso purchased the copyright to the photographs. Then, they sued Maya for copyright infringement for its unauthorized use of the photographs—not to vindicate any real value in the copyrighted work but as a means of suppressing and punishing truthful speech. The gambit worked. Although a district court originally found Maya’s activities protected under the fair-use doctrine, the U.S. Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit ultimately reversed and, in a 2012 published decision, deemed Maya liable for infringement.

We wrote about this case when it was ruled upon, noting the ridiculousness of the ruling at the time. As Tehranian notes, this is just one of many examples of copyright now being used to stifle First Amendment protected free expression:


By fetishizing property interests in copyright works at the expense of the public right of access to factual information, the decision effectively provided future plaintiffs with significant cover for disingenuous uses of copyright law to punish legitimate free speech on matters of public interest. And lest one think that the Maya decision only governs seemingly frivolous celebrity scandals, the precedent could just as easily be used to attach liability to the next publisher of the Pentagon Papers or other unpublished materials containing eminently newsworthy secrets.

And, no, he notes, this is not just one case. It’s happening all over.


In recent years, creationists have used the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to force the takedown of critical materials put online by evolutionists. Abortion-rights activists have brought infringement litigation to enjoin speech by pro-life forces (Northland Family Planning Clinic v. Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, 2012). Military personnel have ginned up copyright claims to suppress photographs documenting human-rights abuses (Four Navy SEALs v. Associated Press, 2005). And a prominent political talk show host has sued to prevent unauthorized reproductions of his broadcasts in order to suppress criticism of his hate-filled rants (Savage v. CAIR, 2009).

Tehranian — rightly — slams the federal judiciary for allowing this to happen, and basically ignoring the First Amendment issues, usually with the wave of a hand about how fair use solves all the problems. But, as he notes, that leaves many in the unfortunate (and nearly impossible) situation of not being able to rely on the First Amendment to protect free speech, but to try to force it directly into copyright law itself.

Because of this issue, he offers a potential solution, saying that we need a NY Times v. Sullivan for copyright. We have, of course, discussed that case many times in the past — most recently in the context of Donald Trump’s apparent ignorance of its existence or meaning. But it’s the seminal case that made defamation law “okay” under the First Amendment, by strongly favoring free expression (around public figures) by limiting defamation to cases of “actual malice.”


Courts have had no problem with imposing carefully circumscribed First Amendment limitations on tort liability in a variety of scenarios. In New York Times v. Sullivan (1964), the Supreme Court famously held that defamation claims brought by public officials should be subject to a critical First Amendment check: a showing that the defendant acted with actual malice by either intentionally disregarding the truth or acting with reckless indifference towards it. The Supreme Court has subsequently extended the holding of New York Times to all manner of defamation, false light (Time v. Hill, 1967), intentional infliction of emotional distress (Hustler v. Falwell, 1988) and invasion of privacy (Cox v. Cohn, 1975) cases involving public figures or matters of public concern.

These doctrinal innovations have a common goal: preventing the courts themselves from being used by private individuals to effectively suppress speech on matters of public concern. However, the courts have left a gaping exception: copyright law. The adoption of a New York Times v.

Read the rest

Justin Timberlake sued for alleged copyright infringement

 

Cirque du Soleil is not doing flips over Justin Timberlake s hit song “Don t Hold the Wall”.

Timberlake’s song appeared on his 2013 double album The 20/20 Experience, which has sold more than two million copies.

Justin is accused of borrowing the single Steel Drum from the acrobatic troupe’s 1997 album Quidam, according to TMZ.

A spokeswoman for Timberlake has not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment.

However, Don’t Hold the Wall never cracked the Billboard Hot 100 on its own. They also name Sony Music as a defendant in the suit filed on March 31 in a NY federal court.

And 1970s band Sly, Slick And Wicked sued him for borrowing elements of their track Sho’ Nuff for his hit song Suit And Tie in January. The group is seeking payment for the damages.

Timbaland had produced the album for Justin Timberlake, which released in 2013.

The suit doesn’t specify how the song allegedly infringes on the Cirque du Soleil song, but claims that the infringement is “willful and deliberate”.

Timberlake’s co-writers were also named in the lawsuit.

Read the rest

Japanese Government Considering Copyright Law Revision to Eliminate Video Sites with Anime, Films

 

Yomiuri reported on April 7 that the Japanese Government has established a policy to revise the copyright law, in order to eliminate the so-called “Reach Site,” which collect links to illegally uploaded anime and films. By setting up clear measures, the government hopes to make it easier to arrest malicious site owners, forcibly shut down their sites, and remove them from search engines. The policy was submitted by Intellectual Property Strategy Headquarters at the 8th Next Generation Intellectual Property System Committee held in Tokyo yesterday.

The owners of the Reach Site don’t directly upload or sell the illegal video contents by themselves. They usually depend on the ads on their sites as a source of profits instead. Because they are only introducing the videos, under the current copyright law, their illegality have not been stated. However, the latest research proved that most of the illegal videos are watched via those Reach Site. So the Japanese Government has finally decided to take legal action against them.

As we recently reported, the damage caused by piracy of Japanese films, anime, broadcasting programs,

music, and manga outside of Japan in 2014 was estimated at 288.8 billion yen (about 2.5 billion US dollars),

which was more than double of the sales through legitimate distribution routes of the year, 123.4 billion yen

(1.1 billion US dollars).

Source: Yomiuri

*the thumbnail photo is provided by Photo AC

 … Read the rest

Timbaland’s Copyright Infringement Lawsuit Dismissed

 

Sidney Swanson sued the hip-hop producer, bosses at MJJ Productions and Sony Music in 2014, alleging they illegally used his song On the Move as a sample for Jackson’s track Chicago.

He demanded unspecified damages and asked a judge to issue an injunction against the parties to block them from distributing the song. However, Timbaland requested to have the lawsuit dismissed last year (15), claiming he didn’t own a valid copyright to his original song.

Last month (Mar16), Swanson dropped the lawsuit due to unspecified reasons and has testified he has not received any damages or funds from Timbaland. He also agreed not to file anymore lawsuits against the parties, according to TheJasmineBrand.com.

Read the rest