40 GirlsDoPorn victims sue Pornhub for hosting “sex trafficking” videos
December 16, 2020
70         0

by admin


A pen and book resting atop a paper copy of a lawsuit.

Forty Jane Does who say they were victims of GirlsDoPorn sued Pornhub yesterday for at least $2 million each, alleging that Pornhub hosted videos despite knowing that “GirlsDoPorn was a sex trafficking venture.”

The lawsuit was filed against Pornhub and Pornhub owner MindGeek in US District Court for the Southern District of California. The complaint asks for “compensatory damages in an amount that exceeds one million dollars for each plaintiff,” plus another $1 million or more, each, in punitive damages.

While they were separate businesses, many of the videos produced by GirlsDoPorn were uploaded to and hosted on Pornhub. The lawsuit alleges that “as early as 2009, and definitely by fall 2016, MindGeek knew GirlsDoPorn was trafficking its victims by using fraud, coercion, and intimidation as part of its customary business practices to get the women to film the videos.”

The complaint continues:

Despite this knowledge, MindGeek continued to partner with GirlsDoPorn, never bothering to investigate or question its business partner regarding the mounting evidence of sex trafficking that MindGeek received. MindGeek continued its partnership with GirlsDoPorn until October 2019 when the Department of Justice shut down GirlsDoPorn by arresting and indicting its principals. At this point, there was no longer a company left for MindGeek to partner with.

“Please im begging you”

The lawsuit further alleges that MindGeek refused to remove videos despite requests from GirlsDoPorn victims, and it gave examples involving two of the plaintiffs. The complaint says that, in August 2016, one of the Jane Doe plaintiffs submitted a takedown request through Pornhub’s takedown portal in which she wrote, “Im going to kill myself if this stays up here. I was scammed and told this was only going to be on dvds in another country. Please im begging you please ill pay!”

She sent a second request that month asking MindGeek to remove the video from Tube8.com, another MindGeek property, the lawsuit said. Her third takedown request came in May 2017 “after MindGeek continued to publish her video on PornHub.com,” the complaint said.

Besides Pornhub, the GirlsDoPorn videos were also hosted on other MindGeek properties referred to as “Tubesites” in the lawsuit. Jane Doe’s video remained “on MindGeek’s Tubesites until after GirlsDoPorn’s principals were arrested in October 2019 when MindGeek finally decided to take action,” the complaint said.

Another one of the Jane Doe plaintiffs in January 2016 “submitted a content removal request to MindGeek, begging to have her video removed because of the lack of consent and harassment she was under,” the complaint said.

“These are just some of many examples of takedown requests MindGeek received notifying MindGeek that GirlsDoPorn used fraud and coercion to get the women to engage in commercial sex acts and the corresponding harassment and suicidal tendencies the victims had as a result of the continued publication of the video,” the complaint said. “Plaintiffs have been informed and believe MindGeek received dozens, if not hundreds, of similar takedown requests from GirlsDoPorn victims over the years and never conducted an investigation of the repeated claims of fraud or coercion perpetrated by its content and viewshare partner, GirlsDoPorn.”

Describing the “partnership” in more detail, the lawsuit said that “from at least 2011 until the end of 2019, MindGeek contracted with GirlsDoPorn to be partners in MindGeek’s Content Partner Program and Viewshare Program. In so doing, MindGeek created dedicated channels for GirlsDoPorn’s videos on MindGeek’s Tubesites containing trailer versions of the victim’s videos.”

Criminal charges

In January, a California judge ordered GirlsDoPorn’s operators to pay nearly $13 million to 22 women who were tricked and coerced into shooting pornographic videos. The GirlsDoPorn website went offline shortly after that ruling.

The FBI is still searching for GirlsDoPorn creator Michael Pratt, who faces criminal sex-trafficking and child-porn charges. Charges were also filed against other GirlsDoPorn principals including Ruben Andre Garcia and Matthew Wolfe.

“Garcia pled guilty to sex trafficking under Section 1591 and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking for his role in the GirlsDoPorn sex trafficking venture,” the Jane Does’ lawsuit said. “Garcia is set to be sentenced by the Honorable Janis L. Sammartino in the coming months. Wolfe remains in federal custody in San Diego awaiting trial. Pratt is still at large.”

Pornhub removed millions of videos

Pornhub has faced increasing problems amid allegations that it hosted content featuring child sexual exploitation, nonconsensual violence, rape, and other illegal material. Visa and MasterCard banned Pornhub from their payment platforms last week. Pornhub has responded to the controversy by banning uploads by unidentified users and purging millions of user-uploaded videos.

At least some of the Jane Does’ videos were still on MindGeek sites this month, the complaint said:

Even after severing its partnership with GirlsDoPorn, MindGeek continues to profit from Plaintiffs’ videos to this day. As of December 12, 2020, MindGeek still hosts victims’ videos on its websites, including Plaintiffs. The URLs for the victims’ videos contain affiliate tails and are surrounded by hyperlink advertisements that, if clicked, redirect the visitors to various paysites. Most of the hyperlink advertisements on these victim’s videos redirect the visitor to MindGeek’s paysite, www.Brazzers.com. Others redirect the visitor to third-party paysites, such as JerkMate.com.

Pornhub’s purge of millions of videos, presumably including many of the videos in which the plaintiffs appeared, was announced on December 14.

Section 230 and FOSTA

The plaintiffs are seeking damages under Section 1595 of US law, which lets victims of trafficking bring civil actions against either perpetrators or people who benefit when they “knew or should have known” about the crimes.

MindGeek’s defense against the lawsuit could cite Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which gives legal immunity to online platforms that host user-submitted content. But the lawsuit argues that the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) enacted in 2018 would override a Section 230 defense.

The plaintiffs acknowledge that a 2015 court decision “provided immunity to online companies for Section 1595 lawsuits even if the company knowingly assisted sex traffickers.” But because of FOSTA, “Section 230 now states it shall have ‘[n]o effect on sex trafficking law,’ and shall not ‘be construed to impair or limit… any claim in a civil action brought under section 1595 of title 18, if the conduct underlying the claim constitutes a violation of section 1591 of that title,'” the lawsuit said. The complaint also noted that the change to Section 230 is retroactive.

The lawsuit claims that MindGeek is liable even if it did not know about the sex trafficking, saying:

If MindGeek did not know GirlsDoPorn was a sex trafficking venture before October 2019, it should have known for a great number of reasons, the most notable of which is that GirlsDoPorn’s victims sent MindGeek complaints detailing the fraud and coercion they were subjected to by GirlsDoPorn. Because of this knowledge, MindGeek is, at minimum, civilly liable to Plaintiffs under Section 1595 for damages and attorney fees. And if MindGeek truly did not know that its GirlsDoPorn was using fraud, intimidation, and coercion are part of its regular business practices until the criminal charges were filed in October 2019, MindGeek’s ignorance of the sex trafficking is a direct result of its own negligence, which still triggers Section 1595 liability.

We contacted MindGeek about the Jane Does’ lawsuit and will update this article if we get a response.

subscribe for YouMedia Newsletter
0 comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

newsletter
subscribe for YouMedia Newsletter
LET'S HANG OUT ON SOCIAL