Celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton and other stars who have not denied leaked nude photos of them are real are pursuing the removal of the photos from various sites on the internet through copyright claims.
As federal investigators work to determine who stole and posted nude photos of several female celebrities online, the images continue to be removed from various sites, indicating the threat of copyright infringement is having at least some success.
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“This is obviously an outrageous violation of our client Kate Upton’s privacy,” said the model's lawyer, Lawrence Shire. “We intend to pursue anyone disseminating or duplicating these illegally obtained images to the fullest extent possible.”
Lawrence, who won an Oscar for her role in Silver Linings Playbook, contacted authorities after the images began appearing Sunday.
Copyright complaints apparently prompted the removal of images from the sharing site Imgur.com and rendered links on the social networking site Reddit inoperable in what experts call an online version of "whack-a-mole" that will never fully scrub the intimate photos of Lawrence and other stars from the internet.
Users reported difficulty finding working links to the images on other sites, although they remained active on sites that specialize in online piracy.
As copyright in the modern digital age keeps needing to redefine itself, generally the bottom line is that the person who actually takes a photo is most likely the person who holds the copyright.
Who technically owns the copyright?
In the instance of some of the leaked photos, they are not all selfies, and therefore the female celebrities pictured in them may not technically own the copyright and that may create loopholes that keep the intimate photos from being erased from all sites.
The subject was debate fodder recently over a widely-shared selfie taken by a monkey.
Lawrence and other stars who were hacked are now confronting on a very personal level a problem that has dogged the entertainment industry for years — online piracy in a copyright-flouting society.
"Even if you can get it taken down, it's likely to pop up somewhere else," said F. Jay Dougherty, a law professor at Loyola Law School Los Angeles, who specializes in entertainment and intellectual property issues.
Mickey Osterreicher, a media lawyer and general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, said that while a successful copyright complaint could scrub the images from a site forever, Lawrence and other celebrities will have to remain vigilant and continue filing takedown notices.
While the leaked photos appear to be declining in number online as their removal spreads to more websites, women of the non-Hollywood variety are being targeted by a spinoff scam.
This one attempts to get women to tweet intimate images of themselves in "solidarity" with Lawrence with the promotional hashtag #LeakforJlaw.
4Chan pranksters are using the hashtag to exploit women into sharing topless or nude photos, or as a workaround to post nude images ripped from amateur pornography sites in an attempt to get the hashtag going.
The #LeakforJLaw hashtag is now trending on Twitter.
Although some have found humour in it, and Twitter has said it will suspend any accounts that publish the leaked photos, it remains to be seen where #LeakforJLaw is headed: