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This is a hypothetical question about behaviour that would, at the very least, be copyright infringement, and isn't very nice, so shouldn't be done, but I'm specifically interested in the 'revenge porn' aspects.

V is a young woman who sells naked pictures of herself on OnlyFans. D purchases those pictures and posts them online to forums for pornographic images, with no apparent motivation to harm V (though V finds this distressing).

Has D committed 'revenge porn' under English law by posting these intimate images without V's consent or does the fact V consented to the commercial sale of these images mean this is 'just' copyright infringement?

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  • Since these photos can be viewed legally by paying money to the copyright holder, I wouldn't be surprised if this criminal copyright infringement. No, it is not revenge porn, just like shooting someone in the leg isn't rape. It's a different thing.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Aug 22, 2022 at 8:42

3 Answers 3

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It depends, in part, what is meant (and what can be proven) by D's intent:

no apparent motivation to harm V

Revenge porn, or more accurately, "Disclosing, or threatening to disclose, private sexual photographs and films with intent to cause distress" contrary to section 33 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 which states:

(1)A person commits an offence if—

  • (a)the person discloses, or threatens to disclose, a private sexual photograph or film in which another individual (“the relevant individual”) appears,

  • (b)by so doing, the person intends to cause distress to that individual, and

  • (c)the disclosure is, or would be, made without the consent of that individual.

If there is no intent, then the offence is not committed.

If there is intent to cause distressto V, then setion 35 needs to be considered, especially subsection (2):

Meaning of “private” and “sexual”

(1)The following apply for the purposes of section 33.

(2)A photograph or film is “private” if it shows something that is not of a kind ordinarily seen in public.

(3)A photograph or film is “sexual” if—

  • (a)it shows all or part of an individual's exposed genitals or pubic area,

  • (b)it shows something that a reasonable person would consider to be sexual because of its nature, or

  • (c)its content, taken as a whole, is such that a reasonable person would consider it to be sexual.

I cannot find and caselaw or guidance on the particular issue - i.e. whether or not V's commercial sales of her own images would fall within this definition - and as D's intent is not clear, it would probably be a matter for a jury to decide.

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    I guess the operative word private is relevant here. A website where you sell your picture to the (paying) public is anything else, but not private.
    – Trish
    Commented Feb 10, 2023 at 23:32
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    That could easily be confusing. I wouldn’t call it private if anyone can pay to see it on OnlyFans, but it does meet the definition “not of the kind ordinarily seen in public” given right there in the law itself, so possible revenge porn.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Feb 11, 2023 at 22:05
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    @gnasher729: it is ordinarily seen in public ON only fans…
    – jmoreno
    Commented Feb 11, 2023 at 22:19
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    My grandma doesn't go on that website. (I think). I wouldn't want my grandma to see nude pictures of me. So is it revenge porn if you email my pics to my grandma, but not to your mate who is on that site all the time?
    – gnasher729
    Commented Feb 14, 2023 at 12:19
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@gnasher729 the old communications offence has a carve out for images involving a financial gain. The new amendments to the soa 2003 doesn't but what it instead carves out are images previously made available in a place that members of the public have access to whether or not a fee is involved.

You cannot commit an offence by showing someone images that were consensually made available on a porn hosting platform. But of course you might commit some sort of malicious communications/ harrassment offence by bombarding an onlyfans creators relatives with their pictures .

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  • "You cannot commit an offence by showing someone images that were consensually made available on a porn hosting platform." - This is usually a copyright violation.
    – Brian
    Commented May 1 at 14:20
  • Yeah but what criminal offence is someone going to be charged with by saving photos from a porn site and sharing them with their friends ? Commented May 3 at 0:20
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The photos are sold to whoever pays for them.

Therefore, they are no longer private.

"Revenge porn" requires the photos to be private. They are not. End of story.

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