The Regulation of Revenge Porn Stiffens in North Carolina

Effective December 1, 2015, N.C.G.S. § 14-401 makes it unlawful for an individual to post images of someone who provided that individual said images while they were in a relationship together and under a presumption of privacy associated therewith.

Apparently, there is a specific category of pornography for this – revenge porn.

The good news is that House Bill 792 provides a built in excuse to use when my girlfriend “accidently” scopes out my browsing history. Research, darling.

The bad news is that my girlfriend is imaginary, so.

ANYWAYS, notwithstanding my deeply entrenched insecurity about my relationship status, North Carolina can now enforce its ‘revenge porn’ statute beginning on December 1, 2015. The law primarily intends to provide a legal remedy for revenge porn.

Previously, scorned lovers could post images of their former significant other with seeming impunity in an effort to exact revenge on said former significant other for scorning them usually due to the significant other’s suspected infidelity. There’s also a somewhat unbelievable audience size for these postings, which is likely composed primarily of other scorned lovers, so it works a little like some sick support group of the dumped and forsaken.

The problem is that there are victims. The law now protects those victims. § 14-401 provides that a defendant is guilty of a Class H Felony when prosecution can prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

1.     The defendant knowingly discloses;

2.     An image of another identifiable person;

3.     Whose intimate parts are exposed, or who is engaged in a sexual act;

4.     When the defendant, at minimum, held constructive knowledge (knew or should have known) that the individual did not consent to disclosure; and

5.     Where the disclosed images violated the depicted person’s reasonable expectations of privacy.

The statute also places specific definitions for some of these terms. For example, “reasonable expectations of privacy” means when a person has consented to the disclosure of an image within the context of a confidential relationship and the person reasonably believes that the disclosures will not go beyond that relationship.

In addition to the criminal side of things, which requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt, there is also a civil component. By statute, an individual whose image is depicted suffers actual damages computed at the rate of $1,000 per day for each day of the violation or in the amount of $10,000, whichever is higher. The statue also specifically allows for punitive damages and reasonable attorneys’ fees and other litigation costs reasonably incurred. There is also a 4-year statute of limitations.

That is very powerful, and the burden of proof might make a lot of difference (ask OJ Simpson), especially with respect to the more difficult elements to prove, such as what the defendant knew or should have known and whether a reasonable expectation of privacy existed.

In a technological world where criminal activity is becoming increasingly difficult to detect and enforce, there is a shift allowing for the private enforcement of the law through remedies such as this that will hopefully send the intended message: no civil society can tolerate anyone who posts intimate pictures of another person without their consent for anyone or everyone to see, such as classmates, coworkers, employers, and so forth.

No matter what he or she did, it does not give anyone the right to turn private into public parts.

Taylor HastingsComment