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revenge pornography

Revenge pornography—also known as revenge porn or nonconsensual pornography—is a criminal offense in most states and is committed when a person publishes private nude, pornographic, or explicit photos, videos, or images of another person’s body or sexual activity without that person’s consent.

The publication of revenge porn may occur in many forms, including (1) an in-person showing of printed or electronic photographs or video to another person or persons; (2) sending images or videos by electronic message such as text, chat, or e-mail; (3) publishing images or videos on social media; or (4) publishing images or videos on a website.

Revenge pornography laws are generally located in a state’s statutes—often in the penal or criminal code. These statutes are sometimes titled with descriptive names such as The Unlawful Disclosure or Promotion of Intimate Visual Material. Revenge pornography offenses may be prosecuted as misdemeanors or as felony offenses—depending on the state's laws—and often include potential jail or prison time.

The publication of revenge pornography may also create civil liability for money damages in a lawsuit under state law, and some states have enacted specific laws providing for such civil liability, in addition to any criminal prosecution.

In Texas, revenge pornography is addressed under the state's penal code as 'Unlawful Disclosure or Promotion of Intimate Visual Material.' Texas Penal Code Section 21.16 criminalizes the act of disclosing intimate visual material without the consent of the person depicted, when the person has a reasonable expectation that the images would remain private, and with the intent to cause harm. This offense is considered a state jail felony, which can result in significant legal consequences, including potential jail time. Additionally, Texas law allows victims of revenge pornography to seek civil remedies, which may include monetary damages, as per the Civil Practice and Remedies Code Section 98B.001. The civil statute provides victims with the right to sue the perpetrator for compensation for harm caused by the nonconsensual disclosure of intimate visual materials. Both the criminal and civil aspects of the law aim to protect individuals from the unauthorized distribution of private images and to hold offenders accountable.

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