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The man who ran a revenge porn website is asking Google to remove his own private photos

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The former operator of a revenge porn website banned by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has invoked copyright law in an attempt to remove "unauthorized photos" of himself from the internet. Craig Brittain, who previously ran the site IsAnybodyDown.com, has filed multiple takedown notices to Google under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Brittain is asking that the internet giant remove search results pointing to 23 sites that wrote about the FTC's decision against him (including The Verge), arguing that they include "unauthorized information" about him as well as "photos which are not 'fair use.'"

Brittain allegedly charged people to have their pictures taken off his site

The staggering irony of the situation is hard to ignore. The FTC originally stopped Brittain's revenge porn business in January this year, banning him from "publicly sharing any more nude videos or photographs of people without their affirmative express consent." The agency's complaint alleged that he not only "used deception to acquire and post intimate images of women," but also operated a fake "takedown" service, charging individuals between $200 to $500 to have their pictures removed from his site. "Despite presenting these as third-party services, the complaint alleges that the sites for these services were owned and operated by Brittain," said the FTC. The director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection added that Brittain's behavior was "not only illegal but reprehensible."

In turn, Brittain has protested that the coverage of his case by the mainstream media has been unfair. In a statement on the reclaimed IsAnyoneDown.com (the domain was not banned, merely the posting of revenge porn) he claims that he had "nothing to do with any 'takedown' services, with the exception of negotiated settlements through dmca.com." He also defends other aspects of the site such as its "bounty system" — a service that let users post rewards of at least $100 for submitting information and photos of specific individuals. Brittain says this was "not an attempt to buy revenge porn" but merely an attempt to "formally transition into regular amateur adult content."

"No less than 200 of the women pictured were offered modeling contracts."

Brittain says that only 50 images posting on the site were actual revenge porn (i.e. pictures submitted out of spite by ex-partners), while the "majority" were simply "self-posted, self-taken pictures which were already publicly posted to other websites." He claims that "no less than 200 of the women pictured ... were offered modeling contracts valued as high as $100,000 per year as a result of exposure generated by publicity from IAD," adding that the website as a whole "promoted positive body image" by posting pictures of individuals "from every gender, race, origin, country, etc."

Despite his discomfort at the coverage of his past deeds, it's not likely that Brittain's DMCA requests he has filed will be heeded. The law requires companies like Google to remove links to sites posting copyrighted material, but coverage of Brittain's story falls clearly under fair use. As Ars Technica notes, it's also unlikely that Brittain would even be able to have his information removed under the EU's "right to be forgotten" ruling, as this only covers information that is "inadequate, irrelevant, or no longer relevant."