First Jail Sentence Under Oregon’s Revenge Porn Law

HILLSBORO, Ore. (CN) — A 31-year-old Oregon man will be the first to serve jail time under the state’s revenge-porn law, for sharing pornographic videos online without his partner’s consent.

Though legislation lags behind rapidly changing technology, many states have enacted laws in recent years penalizing revenge porn: posting explicit images online without the subject’s consent. It is generally prosecuted as “nonconsensual pornography.”

The practice gained notoriety and condemnation through the website Is Anyone Up?, at which users could upload pornography and identifying information of the subjects. The site’s owner Hunter Moore was sentenced to 30 months in prison for hacking and identity theft.

Oregon enacted its revenge porn law in June 2015, amending its invasion of privacy law to criminalize “unlawful dissemination of an intimate image” online.

House Bill 2596 was proposed in part to criminalize “upskirt” photos, after a middle school teacher testified to a House committee about the humiliation caused by a student taking such a photo of her.

“According to current law, no crime was committed because I had underwear on, concealing my intimate areas,” the teacher told the committee. “According to current law the criminal intent for this action depends on what the woman is wearing or not wearing under her skirt.”

On Thursday, a 31-year old man was sentenced to 6 months in jail and 5 years of probation after pleading not guilty to nine counts of the law.

Benjamin Jay Barber of Hillsboro also was ordered not to contact his victim or her family. Judge Beth Roberts also ordered him to attend a survivor’s impact panel.

Barber told Oregon reporters that the videos he posted of himself and a partner were copyrighted, that he had the right to post them, and that his victim tried to use the videos as blackmail.

In the same court in October, 21-year old Jay David Leatherwood was sentenced to two years of probation and community service after entering an amended guilty plea to three counts of the revenge porn law.

Oregon is among 34 states and the District of Columbia with revenge porn laws on the books. U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California, has introduced the Intimate Privacy Protection Act in Congress, which would make revenge porn a federal crime.

Civil rights advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union, have opposed federal legislation against revenge porn, as well as state laws they say are overbroad and restrict free speech.

“You shouldn’t need a permission slip to post images of horrific torture from Abu Ghraib or the ‘Napalm Girl’ photograph that contributed mightily to changing American attitudes about the Vietnam War,” ACLU attorney Lee Rowland wrote in response to an Arizona law that banned publishing any nude photo without the subject’s consent.

A federal judge in Arizona ordered the state to stop enforcing that law last year, in a settlement with a coalition of publishers, librarians and photographers.

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