What counts for privacy, what counts for public domain, what counts for accountability and what counts for freedom of speech? These are some of the questions that are up for grabs as lawyers for hacked female celebrities in the celebgate scandal are threatening to sue Google for $100 million for allegedly failing to remove ‘infringing’ images and ‘making millions from the victimization of women.’
The threat of legal action comes as many of Hollywood’s illustrious stars including Jennifer Lawrence (for a third time), Amber Heard (see new images here) supermodel Cara Delevingne (see images here), Kelli Garner (see images here), Brooke Burns and Rachel Nichols (see images here), Candice Swanepoel (see images here), Kaley Cuoco (see new images here), Kim Kardashian (see images here) Kate Bosworth (see images here), Lake Bell and Vanessa Hudgens amongst many other have in the recent weeks seen illicitly gotten images of themselves distributed online.
According to an exclusive via the nypost, Hollywood top lawyer Marty Singer who represents many of the women embroiled in the scandal has vowed to bring search engine Google to account for its failure to take down images despite repeated requests to do so.
Tells the nypost: Marty Singer, who represents over a dozen of the women affected by the leak, has written a sternly-worded letter to Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, as well as Eric Schmidt and Google lawyers accusing them of “blatantly unethical behavior” – and comparing their alleged lack of action to the NFL leadership’s handling of the Ray Rice affair.
The letter, exclusively seen by Page Six claims Google has failed, “to act expeditiously, and responsibly to remove the images, but in knowingly accommodating, facilitating, and perpetuating the unlawful conduct. Google is making millions and profiting from the victimization of women.”
According to Singer, the law firm he which he runs Lavely and Singer first sent Google a notice to remove images four weeks ago and a dozen more, nevertheless many of the images continue to appear on google sites Blogspot and youtube.
Singer adds, ‘Google knows the images are hacked stolen property, private and confidential photos and videos unlawfully obtained and posted by pervert predators who are violating the victims’ privacy rights … Yet Google has taken little or no action to stop these outrageous violations.’
The letter continues, ‘Because the victims are celebrities with valuable publicity rights you do nothing — nothing but collect millions of dollars in advertising revenue … as you seek to capitalize on this scandal rather than quash it. Like the NFL, which turned a blind eye while its players assaulted and victimized women and children, Google has turned a blind eye while its sites repeatedly exploit and victimize these women.’
Of course the $100 million dollar question is does Marty Singer and co have a legal case to go after vendors who decline to take down images after DMCA taken notices have been put to them? Which is to ask if Google wasn’t making money off the images (and naturally everything else it runs on its search engine) would lawyers still seek to go after the outlet? Are lawyers fighting for the right of their client’s privacy and the ownership of intangibles? Can anyone really lay claim to an intangible such as an image and what happens when that image becomes widely disseminated in the public domain and the uber void of cyberspace, can any celebrity or public figure lay claim or ownership on such intangibles, irrespective of the morality of the issues aside?
Notes businessinsider: To be fair to Google, its staff don’t choose what the search engine turns up on the net. The system is an algorithm that simply detects what other people have published.
Which posits the question should google be forced into now becoming the moral barometer of what is morally correct and what can and can not appear on the web, assuming one has a cache of high net worth individuals who can fund a legal case (never mind the countless other illicit images of women that will continue to remain on the web for lack of litigation financial stamina)?
And then there were these comments on the web that made me wonder:
I would like to know how any of them can claim copyright infringement? Did they turn in a copyright, trademark, or patent application? If so sure would like to see proof of them. Otherwise using copyright as the reason for removal is straight fraud and abuse of the DMCA process. Sound as if they want removal just because, which is not a valid excuse last time I checked.
What a gift that keeps on giving is the DMCA to sleazy lawyers. What an unnecessary cost of doing business for Google. Hello? Google is a link farm. It does not post nude images of anyone, it just lets you know where they are. Do the lawyers go after all the web search engines or just the one with deep pockets.
I actually won’t criticize the stupid US lawmakers too much, the law is being misused. The EU with their ‘right to be forgotten’ makes DMCA almost seem sane; however, both abuse the messenger for the message.
Who is going to compensate Google for the hectic, nearly impossible work to clean up the mess for them?
Why do the celebrities and their handlers think that they can put the cat back into the bag?
Most likely they will have to live with the fact that in nude they look very much like just common people, nothing glamorous.
This is ridiculous. It’s Apple’s fault and yet they want to sue Google instead of Apple. Whoever believes this “brute force” story is just plain stupid. Even if we are talking about 50 coordinated hackers it would take waaaay to much time and resources to hack that many accounts via “brute force”. They have found a loop hole in Apple’s cloudsystem and Apple is hiding facts.
Google’s inability to remove all copies of the images and keep them from being reposted isn’t really even their fault. It is the nature of the internet. If they are ignoring take-down notices that are specific enough to act upon, then that is their fault. However it the notice isn’t specific enough to act upon, or the images keep getting reposted in a format that has been modified enough to make it difficult to automatically identify them, that is not Google’s fault.
If you take a naked picture of yourself and save it on a server you have no control of or if you think you are going to transfer those images via the internet or any network you don’t own or control, it is your own fault for not thinking. It’s fine if you want take naked pictures of yourself, but you need to think about how to keep them in a controlled environment. Are we suing lock makers because someone has figured out how to break into them and steal our stuff? Maybe the insurance companies need to get a new product out to cover this. And don’t’ naked pictures usually get celebrity more money by exposure, I wonder if this actually helps their career more than harms. And lastly who the heck thinks Google is going to be be able to police the entire internet?