Saturday, October 04, 2008

"Details" covers "revenge" sites, which raise legal issues

On other blogs, I’ve talked a lot about online reputation, and the possibility that someone else – a social enemy – can trash it. The November 2008 issue of “Details” has an article by Richard Morgan (photos by Jamie Kripke) on “revenge porn.” Curiously, the printed article starts with a complex photo pattern on p 96 that appears to include part of Coors Field in Denver (for the Colorado Rockies) and the cover of the issue features the “Gossip Boys.” The printed story was hard to find, and started on p 105.

The online blog link is here.

The article discusses the practice of people (mostly straight, sometimes gay) of gaining “revenge” against ex-partners (sometimes spouses) by posting salacious and explicit videos and photos online. Some people have gotten into legal trouble, for identity theft (impersonating someone else – already a legal issue in the “Myspace Case” in Missouri) and in a few cases for child pornography, when teenagers were involved. Some have used sites set up to encourage the practice.

Generally, criminal law does not have specific provisions regarding this problem, apart from what was in the bricks and mortar world.

The obvious “civil” problem is online reputation. Presumably “victims” of this practice could contact a company like Reputation Defender for assistance.

Had COPA been upheld, would this practice have been affected? The motives of the persons posting the material are personal (“revenge”) and not commercial. However, it would seem that the law could have applied if hosted on commercial social networking sites set up themselves to make a profit.

Social networking sites (and some “revenge” sites) say they take down material of this nature if they received complaints or believe that the material is patently illegal.

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