More than a dozen female celebrities – actresses, models, and athletes – who were recently victimized by the iCloud nude photo leak debacle are now threatening to sue
Apple Google for “failing to act expeditiously and responsibly to remove the images” and well as “knowingly accommodating, facilitating, and perpetuation the unlawful conduct”.
Larry Page, Eric Schmidt, Sergey Brin, and Google counsel have received a letter from a law firm claiming to represent many of the celebs victimized by the leaks. In it, lawyer Martin Singer admonishes Google for “blatantly unethical behavior” and threatens that a large lawsuit could be forthcoming – one that could exceed $100 million.
The letter accuses Google of being too slow to react to DMCA takedown requests
“The vast majority of those sites and ISPs/hosts, all of which are much smaller than Google, with far fewer staff and resources, complied with their obligation under the DMCA and removed the images within an hour or two of receiving our DMCA notice,” says the letter.
The letter lays in on pretty thick – comparing the situation to the NFL’s current Ray Rice scandal and invoking the ‘what if it were your daughter’ argument.
“If your wives, daughters, or relatives were the victims of such blatant violations of basic human rights, surely you would take appropriate action. But because the victims are celebrities with valuable publicity rights, you do nothing – nothing but collect millions of dollars in advertising revenue from you co-conspirator advertising partners as you seek to capitalize on this scandal rather than quash it. Like the NFL, which turned a blind eye while its players assaulted and victimized women and children, Google has turned a blind eye while its sites repeatedly exploit and victimize these women.” [bolding ours]
Though this paints a pretty cut and dry picture of Google’s role in this and what Google needs to do to make it right – things are, of course, more complicated.
For instance – does linking equal publishing?
The letter demands that Google both remove the images from “all Google hosted sites, blogspot accounts, and Youtube channel account”, as well as “immediately remove Google search engine and Google image search results for and which display the hacked stolen images.” These are two vastly different things. The former has to do with properties Google actually owns, and the latter simply involves Google’s linking to outside properties.
At this point, it’s unclear which celebrities Singer is representing – but it’s rather clear that this is going to be an ongoing battle.
“Google has exhibited the lowest standards of ethical business conduct, and has acted dishonorably by allowing and perpetuation unlawful activity that exemplifies an utter lack of respect for women and privacy. Google’s ‘Don’t be evil’ motto is sham,” says the letter.