Revenge Porn Victim Representation: What is a DMCA Takedown of 'Copyrighted' Intimate Images and Videos

You likely have never head of a DMCA Takedown or Takedown Notice until you were the unfortunate victim of Revenge Porn uploaded or posted to Tumblr, Instagram, Reddit, Pornhub or some other app or website cataloged by Google. Whether it’s a picture of you naked and exposed or a video recording of you engaged in consensual sex, the first time you heard this term was when you searched Yahoo or Bing or you consulted with a Revenge Porn lawyer in New York. Briefly, the United States’ copyright law protects “original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression,” such as artwork, novels, music, articles, films, etc. As it pertains to Revenge Porn, this also includes pictures, photographs, videos and other recordings. In fact, “porn” or “art,” an intimate image or sexually explicit video that you filmed or photographed yourself is protected under copyright law the moment you create it. Should you learn that intimate, compromising, explicit or sexual photograph or vides of you is published onto a website without your consent, it is important to know that there are means to protect yourself including prosecuting offenders, securing Orders of Protection, filing law suits and, arguably most importantly, removing what an Online Harasser published to Facebook, Twitter or other social media.

That said, if you don’t move quickly, even though you have a right to remove these copyrighted images, once they are shared and potentially become viral, the same intimate or explicit videos you are trying to corral, are copied, cached, downloaded or linked to countless websites. Simply, containment and removal – as well as retaining the right legal advocate – are key.

Removal of Online Revenge Porn: Examples of DMCA Takedowns of Copyrighted Images

Not all Selfies are of women puckered up in the bathroom or men showing their [non]chiseled bodies. Arguably, naked, explicit and other sexual Selfies, likely taken consensually by the now victim (hence the term “Selfie”), is the most common form of Revenge Porn imagery in New York City, New York State and elsewhere. Whether you intended to share it or not, these pictures of breasts, vaginas, penises and the like fall under copyright protection. Certainly, each scenario of a Selfie gone bad is worthy of consultation with your Revenge Porn attorney, but it is inconsequential if your iPhone Selfie inadvertently fell into the wrong hands, it was initially shared with your permission, or you were hacked. Simply, when it comes to protecting yourself from Online Harassment, Cyber Stalking, Sextortion or any other form of Revenge Porn, if the current use of your picture is without consent, you can claim copyright infringement. Do not let a harasser or tormentor trick you into believing that possession equals ownership. It absolutely does not. Again, even if you willingly shared an intimate photograph or sexually explicit video with someone, that does not entitle him or her to do as they please with it thereafter. As the copyright owner, you have the right to control its publication and viewership no matter if it is on Facebook, Reddit, Tumblr, Instagram or any website from pornographic to “regular.”

Utilizing the DMCA Takedown of Copyrighting Material to Remove Revenge Porn

In a “Selfie” scenario, where you were the one who created an intimate image or video of yourself, your attorney may find an avenue of attack in the copyright law and the DMCA. This extends to those images, pictures and videos that are not “Selfies” but merely consensual when you took them with a then boyfriend, girlfriend, affair or lover. In order to remove this content from a website, your DMCA Takedown attorney must submit what is known as a DMCA Takedown Notice. The DMCA states that even though an Internet Service Provider (ISP) is not liable for transmitting the information that may infringe on a copyright, the ISP is required to remove materials from users’ websites that appear to constitute copyright infringement. If you find your intimate Selfie or other sexually explicit video or picture on the internet without your permission, by submitting a takedown notice to the website, ISP, and even search engines, you can expect to have the material removed from the webpage as well as search results from those search engines.

Obviously, and unfortunately, the Revenge Porn issue likely will not end there if you and your legal counsel cannot prevent, among other victimization, the source of the unlawful posting from uploading the imagery elsewhere. While a great weapon in your arsenal to fight Revenge Porn and Online Stalking, it is only one of many you will have to call upon to but an end to your torment and abuse.

Other Copyright Issues Involving Revenge Porn

Most websites have adopted a general policy regarding copyright that is in accordance with the DMCA. The law is intended to provide a balanced process: copyright owners are responsible for enforcing the rights they have in their work (you, the Revenge Porn victim), and websites have an incentive to honor takedown requests to avoid legal liability or accountability in copyright infringement lawsuits. A takedown request will involve you providing your contact information, among other statements, along with allowing for a window of time for the image poster to be notified and contest the removal of the recording. Whether true or not, your victimizer may claim he or she maintains ownership of the imagery or cite “fair use.” Because only a court, and not a website can determine “fair use,” Revenge Porn has the potential to spiral in a manner that, if you aren’t already aware, demands the assistance of experienced lawyers and attorneys. While it may not be a step you want to take, removal of Revenge Porn in the worst scenario could involve bringing a copyright infringement lawsuit against the person or website who posted your image or video without your permission.

DMCA Takedowns, Copyright Issues and the Importance of Experienced Legal Counsel

It is entirely possible to submit a takedown request without an attorney, but it misses the bigger picture that can have permanent consequences to your life and career. Not only is Revenge Porn a relative new and murky area of intellectual property law for the criminal justice system in New York and elsewhere, it is critical to consider your options before proceeding on your own and the consequences of your failure. How will the removal process impact your privacy? Will the person who posted the image push back and how far? Will they post additional images and potentially those beyond your grasp? Do you want to pursue criminal action and have your online harasser prosecuted by the District Attorney? Alternatively, should you consider shutting down your tormentor in a legal manner, but outside the four corners of a courtroom?

Revenge Porn is a sticky operation and often a quagmire of horrific proportions. Revenge Porn, lobbed from a distance in a potentially anonymous manner, gives a cowardly online predator a false sense of power and safety. From his or her initial act, a purveyor of Revenge Porn wants to destroy reputations and ruin lives. Once an image surfaces on the internet, it can spread like wildfire resulting in broken relationships, invasion of privacy, embarrassment, degradation, and even loss of employment. The process of cleaning up such a mess and holding your victimizer accountable is not the easiest of tasks, but one you can achieve. The removal process, which does not provide any repercussions for the person who posted your sexual, intimate, or explicit image or video, is but one step to freeing yourself from your unwarranted shame and your abuser’s shackles.

Stop being a victim. Turn the tables on your harasser. The New York Revenge Porn lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at Crotty Saland PC are prepared to go the distance on your behalf.

Call the New York DMCA Takedown lawyers, Revenge Porn Copyright attorneys and former New York City prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today

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