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New York Outlaws "Revenge Porn"

Posted by Giovanna A. D'Orazio | Feb 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

Today, the New York State legislature passed a bill to make “revenge porn” a criminal offense, and also established a civil cause of action for victims to recover damages.  The full text of the bill can be read here

The crime is officially called “unlawful dissemination or publication of an intimate image” and it prohibits the posting of an image or video depicting exposed intimate parts of another person's body or that person engaged in sexual conduct, where the posting is made with the intention to cause harm to the victim.  The new crime will be at Penal Law 245.15.  The law also adds this crime to the list of offenses over which Family Court has concurrent jurisdiction with the criminal courts.

The law also establishes what is called a “private right of action” which means that a victim can pursue a lawsuit against the perpetrator, apart from any criminal proceedings.  The civil action will be at Civil Rights Law 52-b.   The civil cause of action has some teeth because it allows for not only compensatory damages (damages that compensate you for a particular loss either financial and/or emotional), but also punitive damages (meant to punish the perpetrator) and costs and attorneys' fees.  The availability of attorneys' fees and punitive damages are particularly important because “revenge porn” may not necessarily result in the quantifiable economic loss that you typically see in personal injury and employment cases.

Another significant provision in the civil cause of action is the discovery rule included in the statute of limitations.  The statute of limitations (the time in which you have to file a lawsuit, or else lose your claim) is either 3 years from the date of the publication of the intimate image, or 1 year from the date of discovery of the publication.  Discovery rules are not that common in New York law and they help to preserve a claim under circumstances where an individual may not know or have reason to know they have been victimized.  (Within the last few years, New York added a much-needed discovery rule to the statute of limitations in a medical malpractice claim based on failure to diagnose cancer).

Finally, the civil cause of action also permits a victim to commence an action or proceeding against a website in order to have the intimate image or video removed.

Governor Cuomo is expected to sign the bill into law.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of revenge porn, give us a call. We are happy to see if we can help.

About the Author

Giovanna A. D'Orazio

Giovanna has experience litigating, among other things, commercial, general civil, employment, land use and personal injury matters in New York State and federal courts. Giovanna focuses her practice on plaintiff's employment and personal injury matters, with a particular interest in women's rights and employment discrimination and harassment.

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