Legal Eagle: The facts about ‘revenge porn’

Picture by PA
Picture by PA

On April 28, 2015, we published an article on our website explaining “revenge porn” had become a criminal offence from April 13, 2015. We have since published a number of articles including information on criminal prosecutions.

The articles are among the most viewed on our website. Unfortunately we suspect the considerable number of “revenge porn” cases reported in the media may only be the tip of the iceberg.

What is revenge porn?

Revenge porn is the sharing of private sexual materials, either photos or videos, of another person without their consent and with the purpose of causing embarrassment or distress.

Sometimes the images are accompanied by personal information about the subject, including their full name and address and links to Facebook etc.

What is the effect?

The sharing of such material can be devastating on the person depicted. There have been a number of reports of suicide arising from such events.

Some people who share material are motivated by pure malice, perhaps wishing to inflict pain after a relationship ends.

Others, however, do not understand the impact that sharing private sexual images can have on a person; wrongly they think it is a bit of fun.

The Law

People whose images have been shared without their permission may, in such circumstances, have a remedy under the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015.

It is a criminal offence to share such images without the persons consent when done with the intent of causing distress.

The offence can attract a Prison sentence of up to two years and a fine.

Civil proceedings claiming compensation from the person who shared the image may also be pursued.

Such a claim may also seek to claim the copyright of the images; if the images have been published on websites, social media etc. then owning the copyright can help with action to have the images removed.

The more internet savvy readers may have followed Chrissy Chambers’ revenge porn ordeal.

She is a musician and YouTube vlogger who won a court case in the UK against an ex-boyfriend who published an explicit video of them engaging in sexual activity.

She was subsequently diagnosed with PTSD and was reported as almost dying after battling with alcoholism at the age of 23.

In December 2017, after a four-year battle with the man who shared the video, she finally won her case in the High Court, receiving substantial undisclosed damages, the ownership of the copyright of the video/images, her legal costs, the right to inspect his devices to ensure he retained no copies of the video and an apology.

As part of the settlement he managed to walk away with a Court Order guaranteeing his anonymity.

The sharing of the Chrissy Chambers’ video was before the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015.

Had the man shared it after the Act took effect then it is likely he would have gone to prison.

If you have suffered distress from others sharing explicit images of you then our team at Ben Hoare Bell LLP Solicitors may be able to help. Contact details are on our website at www.benhoarebell.co.uk