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Suppose Person A has a photograph of another Person B violating a law.

If A demands money from B in exchange for not revealing the photo, then A is guilty of blackmail.

But what if A offers to destroy the photo in exchange for B providing something of value to A? Does a positive formulation like that still constitute blackmail?

Examples could be:

  1. "The photograph is hidden in a public place. There's no telling how long it will be before someone stumbles upon it. If you do what I say, I'll go retrieve it and destroy it personally."
  2. "I don't have to help you keep it a secret, but if you pay me, then I will."
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Both actions constitute blackmail.

  • Just adding to this, the UK definition and terminology used that relates to blackmail is also on the same page ("making an improper demand with menaces" as it's legally defined). It gives a lot more of the background of how the actions suggested in the question might be seen, and why. Even though the Q is about US not UK law the two legal systems have a lot in common and they take a very similar view on when a proper action becomes a threat or becomes blackmail. This might help clarify the answer. – Stilez Jun 16 '17 at 0:56

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