The incredible $US115 million awarded by a jury in an American
court to pro-wrestler Hulk Hogan over the broadcast of a grainy sex
tape throws the issue of breaches of privacy into costly new
Hogan – real name Terry Bollea– had been secretly
filmed by the husband of the woman he was having sex with, and sued
the online New York based gossip blog Gawker that posted 100
seconds of the tape on its website.
Hogan wanted $US100 million from Gawker for "hurt and
humiliation" for breaching his privacy. But the jury decided
Hulk should get even more and awarded the bulky moustachioed
bandana-wearing wrestling ' good guy' $US15 million extra
for his emotional distress.
While Gawker will appeal against the size of the award - and
such enormous awards aren' t possible in Australia –
issues around broadcasting on the internet of adult sex tapes
without the permission of those involved is a hot legal topic in
Anneka Frayne, associate lawyer at Stacks Law Firm, points out
two parliamentary committees have recommended so-called revenge
porn – where intimate sex tapes involving a former partner
are posted online against their will as an act of revenge –
become a federal crime.
"A Senate and NSW parliamentary committee recommended
allowing victims of such intimate tapes to be able to sue the
perpetrators for invasions of privacy," Ms Frayne said.
"The committee was told intimate images were being
increasingly used in domestic violence cases to control the partner
and threatening to release them if they left the
In Canberra two MPs introduced a private members bill to make it
a crime to distribute sexually explicit images of someone without
their consent. Website operators who carried such material could
face five years jail.
"It is a far bigger problem than most people realise,"
Ms Frayne said. "A university survey found one in ten
Australian adults had had an intimate image sent to others without
"Under UK law one person has been jailed and many others
successful prosecuted for so-called revenge porn.
"It can have a devastating and distressing impact on the
victims who are nearly always women - the feeling of betrayal,
embarrassment, damage done to reputation in the family, community
Ms Frayne said victims should seek legal advice on whether
action can be taken under section 474.17 of the Criminal
Code which states it is a crime to use a carriage service to
"menace, harass or cause offence" against the perpetrator
and the online carrier of the images.
"A lawyer may help get perpetrators or the carriers to
remove the images."
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