Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

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Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby Angua » Tue Jun 17, 2014 6:20 pm UTC

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-27884429

So, this guy was running a revenge porn website, plus a second website which was extorting women to take the images down. It will certainly be interesting to see where this leads, especially as I've read that in some cases the so-called 'revenge porn' has been images hacked from women's computers, or even them being photoshopped in.
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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby CorruptUser » Tue Jun 17, 2014 6:51 pm UTC

Hooray! Although apparently posting explicit photos without consent is only specifically illegal in a few states, why isn't it already covered under current extortion laws?

What I never understood was the need to blur out people's faces in TV shows and so forth, but nothing preventing People magazine to use celebrity photos without permission. Isn't it legally the same thing?

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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Jun 17, 2014 9:47 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:What I never understood was the need to blur out people's faces in TV shows and so forth, but nothing preventing People magazine to use celebrity photos without permission. Isn't it legally the same thing?


Celebrities are in the public eye. Not really so much expectation of privacy in normal circumstances. Random people are probably much less expecting to be plastered up everywhere.

This ties into this topic with most people having a reasonable expectation that explicit photos of them not be plastered online. The extortion is particularly odious, and IMO, pretty much craps all over any reasonable defense. There's a balance between the right to privacy and the right of the press, but blackmail isn't even vaguely close to the point of being reasonable.

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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby aoeu » Wed Jun 18, 2014 12:25 am UTC

What's the expected outcome? Can he argue that the content was submitted by the users so he has no responsibility beyond responding to take-down notices? At a glance changemyreputation.com was just a lame scam site with no connection to the porn, though I have not checked how he may have linked to it from his other sites.

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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby K-R » Wed Jun 18, 2014 3:32 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Although apparently posting explicit photos without consent is only specifically illegal in a few states, why isn't it already covered under current extortion laws?

Because it's not extortion.

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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Jun 18, 2014 3:37 am UTC

K-R wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:Although apparently posting explicit photos without consent is only specifically illegal in a few states, why isn't it already covered under current extortion laws?

Because it's not extortion.


Merriam-Webster Online wrote:ex·tor·tion noun \ik-ˈstȯr-shən\
: the crime of getting money from someone by the use of force or threats

"Give us money or we keep your private life public" sounds like "getting money from someone by the use of force or threats" to me.

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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby rat4000 » Wed Jun 18, 2014 5:59 am UTC

Posting photos isn't extortion. Posting photos unless someone gives you money might be, depending on the photos. Your original post was about the former, not the latter.

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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby Thesh » Wed Jun 18, 2014 6:13 am UTC

BBC Article wrote:Kevin Bollaert is accused of running so-called revenge porn website UGotPosted and changemyreputation.com, a second site which offered to remove the images for about $300 (£176) each.


How is that not extortion?
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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby rat4000 » Wed Jun 18, 2014 6:29 am UTC

Yeah that was an entirely unnecessary "depending". Sorry.

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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby Adacore » Wed Jun 18, 2014 6:35 am UTC

Thesh wrote:
BBC Article wrote:Kevin Bollaert is accused of running so-called revenge porn website UGotPosted and changemyreputation.com, a second site which offered to remove the images for about $300 (£176) each.


How is that not extortion?

I'm not sure it's technically extortion, since he's not making any threats. He uploaded the images without making threats, and then passively stated that he will remove them for a fee. If he didn't contact the victims directly, I don't think it would be counted as extortion under US law. It's a grey area, though, and I can see it being argued both ways.

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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby Derek » Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:50 am UTC

Adacore wrote:I'm not sure it's technically extortion, since he's not making any threats. He uploaded the images without making threats, and then passively stated that he will remove them for a fee. If he didn't contact the victims directly, I don't think it would be counted as extortion under US law. It's a grey area, though, and I can see it being argued both ways.

I suspect he keeps a degree of separation between the websites as well. It's not (on the surface) "pay us and we'll take down the photos", it's probably "pay us and we'll got after those bad people who put up your photo and make them take it down". Although I'm only speculating.

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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby leady » Wed Jun 18, 2014 9:45 am UTC

This isn't extortion, afterall outside of the icky context it is the paid for removal of already published content and under every other context this would be legal

I suspect unless he messed up that its even constitutionally protected ( but it only takes one instance of a pre-published threat...)

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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Jun 18, 2014 12:11 pm UTC

Saying this isn't extortion is like saying that companies giving large sums of money to congressmen "because they like them" unless they do something they don't like isn't bribery.

SMBC sums that one up.
Last edited by CorruptUser on Wed Jun 18, 2014 12:15 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Jun 18, 2014 12:13 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:Saying this isn't extortion is like saying that companies giving large sums of money to congressmen "because they like them" unless they do something they don't like isn't bribery.


Yes. It's not legally that, but in practice, it pretty much is that.

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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby leady » Wed Jun 18, 2014 12:39 pm UTC

that analogy would be other way around, actively paying for a change - and thats the legal issue I imagine (in my armchair capacity)

a slightly less charged version would say Greenpeace allowing corporations to pay large sums to stop campaigns on the basis that one sacrifice is good for rest of their causes. Unethical? Sure, but illegal?

Obviously I'm not saying its right, hell its the height of douchery, but its not legally clear and I can see arguments why its quite dangerous to move its category.

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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby jseah » Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:12 pm UTC

I would say it depends. If Greenpeace said "pay us and we'll stop protesting your experiments", I guess that would be considered very bad form but I would not be too annoyed if that was legal.

If they said "pay us and we'll stop invading your GM test plots to burn your crops", I'd say that should be illegal. At least, given that the GM crops, test plot and permission to grow them were all valid.

The difference here I think, is that one is legal (civil protest), and the other is not (vandalism). Getting people to pay to stop you doing things that are allowed seems fine, but getting people to pay you to not do things that were illegal in the first place? That's... a little perverse.
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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby ahammel » Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:13 pm UTC

Wiki seems to think that to convict him of extortion, the prosecution would have had to show that he knowingly sent threatening messages to his victims. There's no mention of him having emailed his victims, so he could presumably argue that passively allowing his victims to find the site doesn't count as sending a message "willingly and knowingly".

Maybe the Crown (err, not the Crown, what do you can it stateside?) could have argued that he knew his victims would find the site because of the Facebook links and whatnot, and therefore that he was willingly, if indirectly, making threats. I guess the AG wasn't confident that they could convince the jury of that.
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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby eSOANEM » Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:37 pm UTC

I don't know, having a site overtly targeted at people on the other site makes it seem an awful lot like he is willingly and knowingly telling them his demands (albeit passively).

I imagine the prosecution will argue along these lines.
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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby ahammel » Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:40 pm UTC

eSOANEM wrote:I don't know, having a site overtly targeted at people on the other site makes it seem an awful lot like he is willingly and knowingly telling them his demands (albeit passively).

I imagine the prosecution will argue along these lines.

He's not been charged with extortion:

He faces identity theft charges as UGotPosted included victims' locations, names and links to Facebook profiles.

The 27-year-old has pleaded not guilty.

He is also charged with obtaining identifying information with the intent to annoy or harass.
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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby leady » Wed Jun 18, 2014 2:58 pm UTC

surely his lawyer will just go all 1st amendment on that charge

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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby K-R » Wed Jun 18, 2014 4:02 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:
K-R wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:Although apparently posting explicit photos without consent is only specifically illegal in a few states, why isn't it already covered under current extortion laws?

Because it's not extortion.

"Give us money or we keep your private life public" sounds like "getting money from someone by the use of force or threats" to me.

But it doesn't sound like "posting explicit photos without consent", which is what you were initially talking about.

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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Jun 18, 2014 4:15 pm UTC

Posting photos without consent with the purpose of getting people to pay to take them down IS extortion.

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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby eSOANEM » Wed Jun 18, 2014 4:32 pm UTC

ahammel wrote:
eSOANEM wrote:I don't know, having a site overtly targeted at people on the other site makes it seem an awful lot like he is willingly and knowingly telling them his demands (albeit passively).

I imagine the prosecution will argue along these lines.

He's not been charged with extortion:

He faces identity theft charges as UGotPosted included victims' locations, names and links to Facebook profiles.

The 27-year-old has pleaded not guilty.

He is also charged with obtaining identifying information with the intent to annoy or harass.


Ah, sorry. I missed that. In that case I'm assuming the prosecution thought Juries wouldn't see it as willingly and knowingly telling his victims.
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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby leady » Wed Jun 18, 2014 4:33 pm UTC

The key difference is that clearly its not a threat if its been done already and there is no legal consent required in posting works that you own. I suspect that in the UK he would be done anyway as "likely intent" is far more common in the UK legal system. In the US, no chance I suspect.

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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby Heisenberg » Wed Jun 18, 2014 4:59 pm UTC

He doesn't get a pass due to the fact that he posted the material first, and then required payment to cover it up. Here are two scenarios:

I tell you: "I will post a sign that says "Leady Pees In The Shower" with an explicit photo of you unless you pay me $100."

I post a sign that says "Leady Pees In The Shower" with an explicit photo of you. Then I come to your house and demand $100 to take it down.

In the second case, does my extortion become magically legal due to the fact that I posted the sign first? The fact is that this gentleman is hosting these images in a publicly accessible space EVERY DAY. And EVERY DAY you do not pay, he continues to host them. He should be charged with a count of extortion for every single day he ran this racket. "Pay me or I host it again tomorrow." "Pay me or I host it again tomorrow." "Pay me or I host it again tomorrow." "Pay me or I host it again tomorrow." ...

All of those are clearly extortion.

The final point is that of consent. If there wasn't express consent, the recording itself may be illegal, depending on the state in which it was recorded. In cases like that, the victims here should be going all MPAA on him and demanding $23k for each illegally recorded video he shared.

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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby leady » Wed Jun 18, 2014 6:42 pm UTC

apparently he does, because he hasn't been charged with extortion or blackmail. Besides which the owner of the site neither posts the material or chases for take downs...

On a secondary note, can I have those photos back please?

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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Jun 18, 2014 6:57 pm UTC

The fact that he's charging at all for taking it down is the proof as far as I'm concerned. They are just going after the easier charge. Because if we are disagreeing, a court might also disagree.

It's sort of like if you live in a country where cannibalism isn't technically illegal, you can still be charged with "failure to have animal inspected by licensed veterinarian" or something.

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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby Sizik » Wed Jun 18, 2014 6:59 pm UTC

Heisenberg wrote:He doesn't get a pass due to the fact that he posted the material first, and then required payment to cover it up. Here are two scenarios:

I tell you: "I will post a sign that says "Leady Pees In The Shower" with an explicit photo of you unless you pay me $100."

I post a sign that says "Leady Pees In The Shower" with an explicit photo of you. Then I come to your house and demand $100 to take it down.

In the second case, does my extortion become magically legal due to the fact that I posted the sign first? The fact is that this gentleman is hosting these images in a publicly accessible space EVERY DAY. And EVERY DAY you do not pay, he continues to host them. He should be charged with a count of extortion for every single day he ran this racket. "Pay me or I host it again tomorrow." "Pay me or I host it again tomorrow." "Pay me or I host it again tomorrow." "Pay me or I host it again tomorrow." ...

All of those are clearly extortion.

The final point is that of consent. If there wasn't express consent, the recording itself may be illegal, depending on the state in which it was recorded. In cases like that, the victims here should be going all MPAA on him and demanding $23k for each illegally recorded video he shared.


Third scenario:
You post a sign that says "Leady Pees In The Shower" with an explicit photo of leady. When leady comes to you and asks you take it down, you demand $100.
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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby leady » Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:05 pm UTC

thats exactly the scenario - and if you have the photos its not libellous..

Yes you can try your arm in court, but thats hardly ideal on something that feels like it should be a standalone crime in its own right

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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:41 pm UTC

Out of curiosity, hasn't it been ruled that creepers taking upskirt photos with shoe camera's is illegal? I don't really understand how this is terribly different.
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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby Heisenberg » Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:52 pm UTC

Sizik wrote:Third scenario:
You post a sign that says "Leady Pees In The Shower" with an explicit photo of leady. When leady comes to you and asks you take it down, you demand $100.

Right, and he came to me because I put up a second sign under the first that said "Leady, if you pay me $100 I will take down this sign."

But you see, since I put up the first sign 10 seconds before the second sign, THAT was free speech so I can blackmail him all I want. Right?

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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby johnny_7713 » Wed Jun 18, 2014 9:41 pm UTC

In fact the defendant is being charged with extortion (two counts to be precise) as well as two different flavours of identity theft and conspiracy to commit identity theft
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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby mobiusstripsearch » Wed Jun 18, 2014 10:25 pm UTC

I don't quite care what he's charged with, as long as it says "This isn't happening again."

The worst outcome would be some mushy judge rewriting the law to be very muddled about whether it's ok or not to profit from nude pictures of people without their consent.

Better to invent a good standard than a bad one.
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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby aoeu » Wed Jun 18, 2014 10:59 pm UTC

mobiusstripsearch wrote:I don't quite care what he's charged with, as long as it says "This isn't happening again."

The worst outcome would be some mushy judge rewriting the law to be very muddled about whether it's ok or not to profit from nude pictures of people without their consent.

Better to invent a good standard than a bad one.

But who is at fault? He didn't get the photos himself. Should the hosting service he used for his site be charged too, or the ad network which gave him his profits? If you don't somehow cut into the profits, these kinds of sites will just move outside US jurisdiction.

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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby leady » Thu Jun 19, 2014 8:47 am UTC

Having read the case details in those links - yeah thats not blurred, its clear cut extortion

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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby mobiusstripsearch » Thu Jun 19, 2014 4:30 pm UTC

aoeu wrote:
mobiusstripsearch wrote:I don't quite care what he's charged with, as long as it says "This isn't happening again."

The worst outcome would be some mushy judge rewriting the law to be very muddled about whether it's ok or not to profit from nude pictures of people without their consent.

Better to invent a good standard than a bad one.

But who is at fault? He didn't get the photos himself. Should the hosting service he used for his site be charged too, or the ad network which gave him his profits? If you don't somehow cut into the profits, these kinds of sites will just move outside US jurisdiction.


I was doing some research on copyright in the US on photos -- seems like the photographer, not the photographed, has the copyright access, which really complicates everything.

But if you don't want your pictures on this kind of site, and you tell the owner so, and he disagrees, then we have a case like this one. If he agrees to remove them, then the Pandora's box on nude pictures is about as closed as it can get.

(Aside: Which countries might host these kinds of sites? It's hard to imagine a Pitcairn or a Luxembourg standing against the US on this. Many countries that would oppose the US (Iran, North Korea, China, etc.) are the kinds of countries that wouldn't encourage revenge porn anyways. Somewhere in Russia or East Europe maybe?)
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Re: Man faces trial over Revenge Porn website

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Jun 20, 2014 6:05 pm UTC

mobiusstripsearch wrote:I was doing some research on copyright in the US on photos -- seems like the photographer, not the photographed, has the copyright access, which really complicates everything.

But if you don't want your pictures on this kind of site, and you tell the owner so, and he disagrees, then we have a case like this one. If he agrees to remove them, then the Pandora's box on nude pictures is about as closed as it can get.

(Aside: Which countries might host these kinds of sites? It's hard to imagine a Pitcairn or a Luxembourg standing against the US on this. Many countries that would oppose the US (Iran, North Korea, China, etc.) are the kinds of countries that wouldn't encourage revenge porn anyways. Somewhere in Russia or East Europe maybe?)


It is indeed possible to imagine a much less clear-cut scenario. Say, someone gives permission for the photo to be taken, and displayed, but later decides they do not wish it to be displayed. What should be done then? What if money changed hands to make this happen?

Fortunately, this scenario is quite a bit clearer, and there's no reasonable defense this fellow has. Any time you go into straight extortion, you've clearly labeled yourself as the bad guy.


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