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New revenge porn law discussed at Brooklyn Bar Association CLE

October 22, 2019 Rob Abruzzese

New York State became one of the last states in the country to enact a “revenge porn” law when it passed one on Sept. 21, but the Brooklyn Bar Association wasted no time in getting one of the leading advocates to help its members best utilize it to protect their clients.

Carrie Goldberg, from the victims’ rights firm C.A. Goldberg, and Susan Crumiller, from feminist litigation firm Crumiller P.C., led a continuing legal education (CLE) seminar titled, “Nobody’s Victim: New York State’s Revenge Porn Law” at the Brooklyn Bar Association on Oct. 3.

“It’s a privilege and a pleasure,” said Steve Cohn when he introduced the pair of attorneys. “I had the opportunity to meet Carrie Goldberg when she moved onto Court Street. She has a wonderful new book, Nobody’s Victim. But, tonight, she and Susan Crumiller are going to be talking about the state’s revenge porn laws and other rights that are important and available.”

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Carrie Goldberg, the founder of C.A. Goldberg Law, is one of the leading advocates against revenge porn in the state.

Goldberg had been the victim of revenge porn, or the non-consensual dissemination of pornographic images, herself back in 2013 when she decided to start her firm and focus on victims like herself. She said that hardly any lawmakers understood the issue at the time but said that there was a bill already underway in the state legislature.

Every year since 2013, a bill was brought up, but never passed. Finally, it happened in 2019 and Goldberg was thrilled.

“Finally, in 2019, the Senate and Assembly were under different leadership and at the end of February this year we got a law passed,” Goldberg said. “In July, the governor finally signed it and 10 days ago it went into effect. When I was invited to talk, we still didn’t have a law in effect.”

Goldberg went over the law, which has both a criminal and civil component to it. The criminal component is a Class A misdemeanor that is punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and three years’ probation.

She said her office has an unofficial shorthand method to explain the five elements of the law — DIIIC, or disclosed, intimate, identifiable, intent and consent.

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“The pictures have to actually be disseminated and published onto a third party, it doesn’t have to be electronic,” Goldberg said explaining the standard. “The victim needs to be unclothed, an intimate part exposed, or engaging in sexual conduct…They need to be identifiable….They must intend to cause economic, physical or substantial or emotional harm to the depicted individual…Finally, without consent. The pictures can be taken with consent, but the distribution is done without consent.”

She said that some advocates fought against portions of the law until the final day, but that ultimately they conceded because an imperfect law was better than another year without one.

The two biggest issues, Goldberg said, were the issue of how a person in the photo can be identified and also over intent of dissemination of photos.

“They must intend to cause economic, physical or substantial or emotional harm to the depicted individual,” Goldberg explained. “This is controversial because it isn’t inclusive. The offender doesn’t always intent to harm the victim. Sometimes they do it for fun or there was a case in Pennsylvania where a fraternity had a private account where they were exchanging naked pictures of girls like they were Pokemon cards. It was a competition.”

The civil element of the law is similar to the criminal, but it also includes the threat to disseminate photos. It also provides injunctive relief because it can require a website or host to remove a photo. New York might have been late with the law, but no other state offers a similar provision in its law.

The Brooklyn Bar Association has followed a trend recently whereby its CLE offerings have covered relevant topics and new laws and procedures. Prior to the revenge porn CLE, it hosted one on the new sexual harassment requirements for businesses in the state.

Its next CLE will cover the Tenant Protection Act of 2019 and the new Housing Court rules. It will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 29 and feature Michael Rosenthal, president of the Kings County Housing Court Bar Association, and Hal Rose, Peter Sanders, Michele Slochowsky Hering and David Troupp.

On Monday, Nov. 4, the BBA will host a CLE on the state’s new cyber security law requirements with David Bensinger and attorney Daniel Antonelli.


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