Thursday, January 18, 2018

LA YouTuber Settles Landmark Revenge Porn Lawsuit

Chrissy Chambers
Photo: Chrissy Chambers

Chrissy Chambers is a co-owner of one of the most popular lesbian YouTube channels, with 750K followers. On Wednesday she has settled a first-of-its kind lawsuit that stems from her ex boyfriend filming her without her consent or knowledge and uploading the videos to pornographic websites using her real name and age (18 at the time) in titles. Her British ex-boyfriend filmed their sexual encounter in 2009 with his face obscured. He then uploaded some clips in 2011 and 2012. Chrissy Chambers only found out about that a couple of years later after her online followers told her, after mistakenly assuming she had made the videos on purpose.

There were numerous difficulties in pursuing the case. Because he uploaded the videos from his home in the UK, that country was the only proper venue for filing a case. Because criminal revenge porn law was passed in Britain in 2015, after the videos had been published, she could not pursue a criminal case (the law does not apply retroactively). So, she ended up crowdfunding $36,36,898 to file the civil case for harassment, breach of confidence and misuse of private information at London’s High Court. This was the first case of its kind. UK law required a high filing fee - 5% of the total sum claimed in damages - much greater than the cost of filing a case in the US. Plus, of course lawyers' fees and travel expenses. Another difficulty is that revenge porn is a novel uncharted legal territory with a lot of gray areas. Ex boyfriend owned copyright to the videos because he filmed them.

On Wednesday, the case was finally settled. Ms.Chambers is to receive monetary damages, apology, legal fees, copyright to the videos will be assigned to her. Ex boyfriend's name will not be disclosed, as part of the settlement. She proposed to her girlfriend, co-owner of the YouTube channel, on the steps of the courthouse that had approved the settlement.

Revenge porn is a serious problem. Approximately one out of every 25 Americans is threatened with or is a victim of revenge porn, according to a 2016 study by the Data & Society Research Institute.