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Whether you are getting divorced, going through a breakup with an ex-partner, or dealing with a difficult situation involving your child’s other parent, you could realize that you have become the target of revenge pornography. While the issue of revenge porn — and what you can do to fight it — extends far beyond family law and into issues of internet crimes and both state and federal criminal law, it is important to know that you are not alone in facing revenge porn in relation to a family law case. If you are a victim of someone who posted sexual and/or nude images or videos of you on the internet or otherwise, without your consent, we can help to stop him from continuing to post the images or videos, seek that he pay for the costs of “scrubbing” those images or videos from the internet, and seek monetary damages for you.
There are a number of things that you can do in order to fight revenge pornography, and our experienced Illinois divorce and family law attorneys can provide you with more information.
In order to determine how to fight revenge pornography, it is first important to understand what it is. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) explains that revenge pornography typically involves someone sharing an intimate image of you without your consent, taking a nude photograph of you with your consent, or sharing a nude or intimate image with more parties than you intended. As the FTC explains, “many people are affected by so-called revenge porn or non-consensual pornography,” and there are ways you may be able to have the image removed and to hold the party accountable who has violated your trust and your rights.
If you took the photographs or images that have been shared without your permission, then you are the copyright holder. You can register the images with the U.S. Copyright Office, and you can then pursue a copyright infringement case.
When an intimate or nude image is posted online or shared electronically — e.g., on specific websites or platforms like Reddit, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or through search engines like Google or Yahoo — you will need to report the image to the platform and the search engine. If you are the copyright holder, you can submit a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) takedown notice to the website that has published the image. If the image was taken by somebody else, you could still report the image and request that the platform or server remove the image because you did not consent to have it published or distributed.
When images are shared on apps designed for chatting (such as Zoom or Skype) or on dating apps, it is important to identify the specific policy of the app and to follow any procedures to have the image removed.
On January 1, 2020, Illinois enacted a new law, the Civil Remedies for Nonconsensual Dissemination of Private Sexual Images Act, that allows for an individual to sue someone who intentionally disseminates (or threatens to disseminate) private sexual images of that individual, such as photographs or videos, without that individual’s consent. If successful, the individual may recover (a) monetary and non-monetary damages caused by the dissemination (or threatened dissemination of the sexual images, including emotional distress); (b) statutory damages of up to $10,000.00; (c) any monetary gain the defendant obtained from dissemination of the private sexual image; (d) punitive damages; (e) attorney’s fees and costs; and (f) injunctive relief (e.g., a court order that prohibits the defendant from disseminating more of the sexual images and requires the defendant to destroy all of the sexual images).
The Women’s Divorce and Family Law Group was one of the first firms in Illinois to successfully litigate a claim under this Act and obtain an injunction and a large monetary award for our client. Please contact us if you are a victim of “revenge porn.”
If you have questions about fighting revenge pornography, one of our Illinois family lawyers can help. Contact Women’s Divorce & Family Law Group today.