Intellectual Property Law

Google threatened with $100M suit over hacked celebrity photos

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A demand letter has been sent to Google accusing the company of failing to remove from its index photos taken from celebrities’ hacked iCloud accounts.

The letter, sent on Wednesday by lawyer Martin D. Singer, threatens a $100 million lawsuit, according to Hollywood Esq.

Singer writes that since the photos leaked over Labor Day weekend, his firm has been sending Digital Millennium Copyright Act removal notices to host providers and website operators on his clients’ behalf, and that the vast majority—including Twitter—complied within hours. He says that over a four-week period, his firm sent more than a dozen such notices to Google. But many of the photos-including ones with nude and suggestive poses-can still be seen on Google-owned sites, including YouTube.

“Google knows the images are hacked stolen property, private and confidential photos and videos unlawfully obtained and posted by pervert predators who are violating the victims’ privacy rights,” the letter reads, “Yet Google has taken little or no action to stop these outrageous violations.”

Specific individuals are not named in the letter, which states that Singer’s firm Lavely & Singer is counsel for more than a dozen female celebrities. Celebrities whose photos were reportedly stolen from hacked iCould accounts include Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, Rihanna and Arianna Grande.

The letter demands that the images be removed from all Google-hosted sites; that the user accounts for violators be suspended or terminated; and that the images be removed from Google search results.

“It is time that Google owns up to its conduct and remedies this gross violation of law, ethics, morals and basic privacy rights,” Singer writes. “Rather than be the transgressor, Google should set the example for all other operators and provider. In Google’s own words, ‘Don’t be evil.’”

In September, Hollywood Esq reported, Detroit Tiger’s pitcher Justin Verlander sent Google a takedown notice that identified 461 pictures of him and model/actress Kate Upton. He also hired law firm Baker & Hostetler to pursue specific website hosts.

A few weeks after his notice was sent, according to the article, 51 percent of the images were removed from Google’s search engine. The 49 percent that remained had inoperative URLs, or featured clothed photos of the couple.

Another photo that remained featured Upton in a mirror, Hollywood Esq reports. Google would not comment on why it distinguished nude photos, according to the article, or where it stood on “selfie” ownership. The article surmised that “insufficient proof” of copyright could have been why Google only took down half of Verlander’s photos.

Google posts legal takedown notices at, according to the article. A site by Harvard University’s Center for Internet & Society, it studies cease and desist letters concerning online content.

The full letter can be read below.

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