Is the nonconsensual creation or publication of private intimate images unlawful?
Generally speaking, yes. “Involuntary porn,” the nonconsensual creation, publication, or dissemination of a person’s private intimate image, for no legitimate public concern, should be legally actionable in almost every situation. The specific law(s) broken will vary by state. For an educational resource on the relevant state and federal laws, you may want to check out WithoutMyConsent.org. Without My Consent (“WMC”) is a 501(c)(3) privacy nonprofit currently undertaking a 50-State survey to compile a comprehensive overview of the possible civil claims that a victim of such conduct might explore, and the potential criminal consequences of the unlawful conduct, in each jurisdiction. The site also includes practical information for victims of online harassment and the attorneys who advocate on their behalf.
Disclaimer: This blog post is not legal advice, and is not intended to form an attorney/client relationship with any reader. If you require legal advice, you should always consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. Your interaction with this blog does not create an attorney/client relationship between you and Ridder, Costa & Johnstone LLP, or any of its lawyers. For more information, please see our full disclaimer below.
Erica Johnstone cofounded and currently serves on the board of directors for WMC; however, WMC is entirely separate from and has no affiliation with Ridder, Costa & Johnstone LLP.
What are the relevant legal claims I might bring against someone who published private intimate images of me without my consent?
There are many legal claims that can be brought in a lawsuit against the defendant who posted the images. Relevant state claims to consider often include: defamation, invasion of privacy, intentional and/or negligent infliction of emotional distress, stalking, and harassment. Federal causes of action like copyright infringement, federal stalking claims, and computer fraud and abuse claims should also be explored. And most, if not all, states have the following criminal statutes on the books: criminal invasion of privacy, voyeurism, impersonation or fraud, harassment, and stalking. To view a list of relevant civil and criminal laws in your state, please access