Home > law, Uncategorized > Crimes of Shame and Revenge

Crimes of Shame and Revenge

I have never texted—or sexted—any naughty pictures. No naughty pictures have ever been taken with my “smart phone”. (That said, all the photos I took with my digital camera seem to have gotten onto the phone, and no, I have not d figured out just how.)

But it seems this is not true of everyone. Sending embarrassing or revealing shits of ones self (I gather they are called selfies” to someone seems to be fairly common in the younger crowd. One UK Mom went so far as to berate girls who wanted to date her precious son but who had posted “selfies” on Facebook, or elsewhere. (see here.)

But some of the photos and (as you may have heard in the Steubenville case) Youtube videos are posted by people—not all but often, women or girls-who did NOT consent in any way, shape or form. A post from a man is available here.

Most of these photos MAY be relatively harmless—but I have learned (from an article in the American Bar Association Journal) that there are actually web sites devoted to the sharing of just such compromising photos and that some of the results have included loss of jobs *by the subjects of these photos.) I won’t post a link to these sites as I REFUSE to go see… even in the name of justice. But one was named Texxan.com if you must check. I just saw that this has also been explored by the Huffington Post here.

Needless to say, people also say nasty things about these named but often unsuspecting folks. I have yet to understand how the digital world has  become the playground for so may people’s baser instincts,  but it’s the whole bullying thing, and it’s not pretty.

This has a name—“Revenge Porn.” Apparently , one lady to whom this was done was brave enough to go public with her story, and it is the subject of the article: “Striking back at Revenge Porn”, by Lorelei Laird, in the November issue of the Journal.

There are some remedies. ALL of them involve being wiling to admit this happened to you.

In 2011 I was contacted by a friend—a dear man, who was appalled (and stressed) because his son, who owned a property in SoCal, had been the object if a shame shakedown. I can’t say much about it—attorney client confidentiality you know– but suffice it to say that it didn’t take me long to learn that the thing was based on… shame. The court where the action was files was in DC-and had NO jurisdiction over an alleged user in California. A look at the court docket (thanks for the internet) showed many dismissals “without prejudice.”

Only an attorney would know what that means. It means there was no attorney involved—but someone had settled. (A few many have been dismissed because someone who did spend the money to hire an attorney had challenged these tactics and the court had ordered dismissal of any defendant who had not been served by a certain time.)

Bottom line, the crime alleged was so heinous—it was not just using and sharing porn (sharing is illegal, as with the music sites which have made news)—but the title of the video named was beyond awful and implied a larger crime, child porn. I simply will not post that here, either—but here is a link to a story about these shame based shakedowns. “”It’s a common pattern at this point, they file lawsuits against hundreds or thousands of people at a time,” says Corynne McSherry, intellectual property attorney at the EFF. People are liable as long as their internet connection was used—leaving anyone with a wireless connection vulnerable.”

So it is safe to infer, as I did, that many of those sent this nasty letter ponied up a few thousand and in return had their care dismissed. But if there had been an attorney, the dismissal would have been WITH prejudice—no further suit would have been then permitted.

In my dealings with this abomination. I let both father and son know that best practice would be to hire a DC lawyer to make sure this was breach if facts and law and ethics was brought to the courts attention. Needless to say, neither had that kind of money to spare, but there was ZERO guilt. None. Nada. Zip. “(I could go on”, to quote “Patrick Jane”—one of my favorite fictional characters.)

S so I wrote a scathing letter to the law form which had written the threat letter tit ye form, pointing out that they did not have an IP address, so anyone could have downloaded this material—IF any had been downloaded, and that they had no jurisdiction in any case.

I upbraided the law firm for choosing such a shameful title to allege. I sent the letter by fax and hard copy. I heard nothing further. It seems we “won” that round. (I also got stiffed for half the very small fee I had asked for. Yes, yes, I did take action without prepayment, based on my great affection for the father, who flat out said the son would pay. Like father was not like son, alas Son said I “didn’t do anything” and has been downright nasty to me. Sigh. I have not told dad who would be appalled again if he knew.)

This was a blatant shakedown…based on shame. I will never know if anyone at the physical address had done anything- it was a rental situation with multiple tenants. But the blatant use of shame to shake people down for several thousands dollars a pop was just so wrong.

I am so incensed at the most recent article I am planning to call both the writer if the article and the one lawyer she quoted as saying “there are only about 4 or 5 of us” doing the work of helping these people—in the whole country”.

I can’t help but feel it is foolish to send “sext” photos OR download porn—I would never do either. And if people do send copyrighted material to sharing sites that is flat out illegal. (And  the Digital Millennium Copyright Act  may apply here, in some cases, from what I have read.)

But injustice trumps stupid, for me, so I may join the fray. What I do NOT know is how many people this has affected—and of those, how many could bring themselves to tell anyone. As I say, I have no naughty photos anywhere, nor would I—but I also have no clue how photos I never posted in cyberspace got into my Android phone, so…

We shall see. The things is. there is an affordable remedy short of filing a federal lawsuit… so, stay tuned.

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