Feminist legal geographies of nonconsensual pornography online: Using copyright logic to combat the unauthorized distribution of celebrity intimate images in cyberspace

Elizabeth Farries, Tristan Sturm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
416 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Women’s rights are often curtailed online due to the pervasive internet atmosphere of cybermisogyny.Extreme examples include ‘image-based sexual abuse’, a term which encompasses thenon-consensual creation and/or distribution of private sexual images. The harms attached to thisphenomenon are well documented. In this paper, we explore how copyright logic, despite itsmale-centric and property oriented worldview, presents one legal solution to this problem. Weassert that Digital Millennium Copyright Act Takedown Notices, a copyright mechanism that notifieswebsites they are hosting infringing content and requires the prompt removal of the content,represents a novel legal mechanism to force websites to remove image-based sexual abuse fromwomen’s online spaces. By using critical discourse analysis to review how Digital MillenniumCopyright Act Takedown Notices attempt to provide solutions to the socio-spatial problem ofimage-based sexual abuse, we argue that copyright can subvert its current leanings to return to itsoriginal purpose: supporting creativity. Supporting creativity also helps to protect against thereproduction of gendered harms, from the real world to virtual spaces. This theorization represents not just legal geography but a feminist legal geography, in that it recognizes the internetshould be a safe and legal space for women. In endorsing a pragmatic legal solution for women toregulate the sexually violent and nonconsensual distribution of their intimate images online,copyright is one mechanism that affirms women’s right to cyberspaces.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Early online date10 Jul 2018
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 10 Jul 2018

Keywords

  • Nonconsensual pornography, copyright, cybermisogyny, Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown, notices, legal geography

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