Copyright Law

BigLaw firm fights 'revenge porn' with pro bono advocacy; suit alleges copyright infringement

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About 50 lawyers at K&L Gates are volunteering their time to fight ‘revenge porn’ in an initiative called the Cyber Civil Rights Legal Project.

The pro bono initiative, launched in September, currently represents about 100 victims of revenge porn, in which sexually explicit photos are posted without consent. When the victims’ own photos are posted online, the K&L Gates lawyers are using copyright law to demand the material be taken down and to sue. The New York Times DealBook blog has the story.

One of the legal project’s first suits was filed in December on behalf of a law student in Los Angeles who says her ex-boyfriend posted her private, intimate photos and videos online, and sent them to her personal and professional acquaintances. The suit also claims the former boyfriend impersonated the law student on dating websites, resulting in unwanted texts from strange men, including one who said he was on the way to her home.

The former boyfriend, David K. Elam II, began posting the intimate material in May 2013 after the couple broke up, according to the suit. By July 2013, the law student was the copyright holder of the video and several of the photos.

The suit says posts of the material continued after the student became sole owner of the copyrights, and Elam is liable for infringement. The complaint also alleges infliction of emotional distress, intrusion on her right to privacy, and online impersonation with intent to cause harm.

Elam, a former financial adviser who lives in Philadelphia, also faces criminal charges of stalking, aggravated identity theft and unauthorized access to a computer in connection with the allegations. He and his lawyer declined to comment when contacted by DealBook.

See also:

ABA Journal (2013): “Victims are taking on ‘revenge porn’ websites for posting photos they didn’t consent to”

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