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Women Accuse Pornhub of Promoting Human Trafficking by Permitting Videos without Verifying Women’s Consent

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The legal system often runs behind new technology, but this blind spot can be dangerous for millions of unsuspecting Americans. The internet has brought about a great deal of change to the country in a very short period of time, but the impact of the internet on average Americans is still being developed in the courtroom.

A group of women have filed a lawsuit against MindGeek, the company behind Pornhub, RedTube, YouPorn, and other popular pornography website. The women accuse MindGeek of running a “criminal enterprise” of exploiting women for profit with videos that include videos of rape, revenge porn, and even child sexual abuse. The lawsuit alleges that MindGeek has avoided rules used in traditional porn, which requires producers to verify the age and identities of the people featured in videos.

Like YouTube, many MindGeek sites are free for anyone to access and upload videos, though it offers subscription services and sells advertising space. This has made MindGeek pornography sites very popular, but has also lead to videos of nonconsensual sex and/or unconsented videos being viewed by millions of people around the world.

In December 2018, MasterCard and Visa blocked card users from making purchases on Pornhub and MindGeek took down millions of videos uploaded by unverified users, deleting 80% of the content on its site. MindGeek executives also announced that they had removed the download videos feature and added a requirement that anyone posting videos verify their identification.

The Internet Requires That We Rethink How Intellectual Property Ownership Is OrganizedHands Tied with Rope

Intellectual property rights are derived from the owners of the property rather than from who creates the intellectual property or who appears in the intellectual property. This tension is most prominent in the music industry, where young musicians often sell the rights to their music in exchange for public exposure and access to promotional markets. The most infamous example of this contrast in ownership and creation is the recent Taylor Swift masters controversy, which lead to Swift re-recording her own music to obtain full ownership rights over them.

The MindGeek lawsuit demonstrates that the law’s separation of ownership from creation is fundamentally flawed. Although MindGeek websites now require people who upload videos to verify their identity, this completely misses the point of the lawsuit. MindGeek needs to require verification of people in the videos rather than the people uploading the videos.

Verification of people uploading the videos is useless as anyone uploading a video already consents to posting it on the internet. People in the video may not have consented to the uploading, as is common in revenge porn cases. Even worse, underage persons cannot legally consent at all. MindGeek and other internet pornography websites must have a procedure for removing such videos or they are potentially in violation of child pornography laws.

It is unlikely that this lawsuit will actually require MindGeek to verify the identities of the people in the videos rather than the users themselves. While “traditional” porn might have been required to verify the “actors” in their products, social media platforms have never been required to do so. “Traditional” porn involve actual production studios that film pornography for profit in business transactions. They are akin to the movie industry – “traditional” porn creates the content that customers buy.

In contrast, social media platforms do not create any content. They merely provide the platforms that users upload content to. As a result, social media are typically not legally responsible for the contents on their websites provided. The concept that social media should be responsible for the content uploaded would completely change how the biggest internet platforms work and would also force the law to reevaluate how ownership of said videos is handled.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Rape is a serious charge with many factors that need to be taken into account and proven if a case ensues. A skilled criminal defense lawyer can explain your options and help formulate possible defenses if you have been charged with rape.

If you were raped, you should contact authorities and obtain medical attention immediately. Even if you do not feel or see any symptoms of physical injuries, a medical examination is necessary to help prevent any sexually transmitted infections. A medical exam can also gather evidence of sexual assault. You will need to cooperate with the police and prosecuting attorneys to help get a conviction against your rapist. If you were raped, you can also file a civil suit against the defendant. A personal injury attorney can discuss other options for legal recourse beyond a criminal trial and help represent you in civil proceedings.


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