Law Firm Sets Up Revenge Porn Legal Project

Law firms get founded for all sorts of reasons and to deal with any number of niche areas, ranging from cruise liner accidents to dog bites.  But revenge porn issues is a new one on us, however a new law firm project has been set up precisely to deal with this emerging and nasty form of social media abuse.  And its been set up by a major law firm:  K&L Gates.

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Revenge porn issues have only begun to become criminalized in the United States quite recently, but there is an increasing number of states addressing the issue and regulators are now also getting in on the act.

The New York Times reports on the new project set up by the firm and a lawsuit filed under a pseudonym on behalf of a woman who posted a video of the woman on pornographic websites and now faces a lawsuit filed by the firm.

The lawsuit reflects a battle line that is being drawn in an age when it is not uncommon for couples to share nude photos digitally, and just as easy for a jilted lover to find a pornographic website willing to post them online.

The litigation is the handiwork of a new initiative by K&L Gates, a Pittsburgh-based law firm. Begun in late September, its Cyber Civil Rights Legal Project has roughly 50 lawyers at the firm volunteering their time.

The “Jane Doe” complaint filed on behalf of the law student is among the first lawsuits filed by the K&L clinic, which is working with about 100 victims of “revenge porn,” a type of online harassment that involves the non-consensual posting of sexually explicit material — often involving a former girlfriend or a spouse.

The program is believed to be the first of its kind at a major United States law firm and is led by David A. Bateman, a partner in the firm’s Seattle office, and Elisa J. D’Amico, a litigator in the firm’s Miami office.

Most of its clients come through the program’s website or referrals from two national advocacy groups for victims of revenge porn, the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative and Without My Consent.

“The advocacy groups are really excited about what we are doing,” said Ms. D’Amico, a litigator who specializes in technology and Internet law issues.

Ms. D’Amico said she came up with the idea of the legal clinic while working last year with one of the founders of the nonprofit Cyber Civil Rights Initiative during an effort to lobby Florida officials to pass a revenge porn criminal statute. Up until now, advocacy groups have largely relied on lawyers at smaller firms to contribute their time and services.

The K&L program not only advises victims as to what legal steps can be taken to sue for damages, it also works with victims to consider the pros and cons of reporting online abuse to prosecutors. In instances where the victims have taken nude selfies or videos of themselves, the K&L lawyers are using the protections offered by federal copyright law to demand that the websites take down the images or risk being sued along with the perpetrators.

Read more at the NY Times

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