Michigan’s First Revenge Porn Money Judgment

Detroit Free Press
August 26, 2016

This is a great legal development in my home state’s internet law:

“In what might be Michigan’s first revenge-pornography case resulting in a monetary judgment, an Oakland County woman was awarded $500,000 Wednesday after her ex-boyfriend posted nude photographs of her on multiple Internet sites. 

“According to court records from the Oakland County Circuit Court, Judge Martha Anderson awarded the sum, which is set to accrue interest over time. Anderson also granted a permanent injunction against the ex-boyfriend, forcing him to immediately destroy and never republish the photos to third-party websites. If he does … he can be held in contempt and face prison or additional fines.”

The article also notes that “In April, a bill criminalizing the posting of sexually explicit images on the Internet without the depicted person’s consent was signed into law by Lt. Gov. Brian Calley. Anyone found guilty of violating the law could face up to 93 days in jail and a $500 fine for a first offense. If a second violation occurs, the person could face up to a year in jail and a fine of $1,000. The individual could also face separate charges in connection to the crime.”

Although many similar statutes have been passed around the country, they often have First Amendment defects, because they go too far in abridging the Constitution’s sacrosanct freedom of speech. Nevertheless, cases like this prove that existing tort laws will almost always provide a way to punish those who use the internet to abuse others.

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