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Lawsuits & Litigation

Women File Lawsuit Against Pornhub, Claiming Website Profited Off Exploitation

— June 17, 2021

The lawsuit likens Pornhub and its parent company, MindGeek, to a Sopranos-style criminal organization.

Dozens of women have filed a lawsuit against Pornhub and its parent company, MindGeek, claiming the adult website knowingly profited from videos depicting sexual assault, child rape, and clips posted without participants’ consent.

According to CNN, the lawsuit alleges that Mindgeek and Pornhub work as a “classic criminal enterprise” by monetizing and allegedly funding the production of nonconsensual sexual content.

“This is a case about rape, not pornography,” attorney Michael Bowe told CBS News. “This is a legitimate industry that consenting people have every right to participate in. It just needs to be done legally and not with illegal content.”

Bowe, notes CNN, is representing 34 women, all of whom but one requested anonymity.

Of these 34 plaintiffs, 14 claim they were underage in Pornhub-hosted videos, while another 14 say they were victims of people who have been charged with or convicted of sex crimes.

One woman—using the pseudonym “Aubrey”—told CBS that her ex-husband secretly recorded a video of them having sex, which he then uploaded to Pornhub without telling her.

A gavel. Image via Wikimedia Commons via Flickr/user: Brian Turner. (CCA-BY-2.0).

Aubrey, adds CBS, learned about the video from a friend in 2018; it had hundreds of thousands of views.

“I will never, ever be able to recover from the emotional pain that this has caused me,” she said. “It truly, truly was a living nightmare. I—I didn’t—everybody had seen everything about me. And that’s just—that’s a very private moment. And it’s a very vulnerable moment. And it’s just—it’s hard to come to terms with. That the world has seen that.”

Aubrey says that she contacted Pornhub and requested that the video be removed. However, website moderators were allegedly less than helpful—they repeatedly challenged Aubrey, asking how she could prove she was the person in the video.

While Pornhub did take the clip down several days after Aubrey initiated her request, it had since been shared and re-uploaded to numerous other websites.

One former MindGeek executive, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, told CBS News that “illegal content” was “good for business,” since more content meant wider variety.

The same anonymous executive said that, when content was flagged on Pornhub, MindGeek would simply shift the video to another one of the dozens of websites it owns.

Speaking in a conference call, Bowe said that the digital pornography industry “has operated like an old-school red-light district of commerce where rules that do apply and should apply haven’t been applied.”

One plaintiff said that her life was effectively ruined after real-life acquaintances found a sexual video of her on Pornhub, that had been uploaded and shared without her knowledge or consent.

“It is time for companies and individuals who have profited off nonconsensual and illegal content to be held liable for their crime,” the woman said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “I joined the lawsuit because I seek justice for myself and the countless victims who don’t come forward.”

Pornhub, for its part, has categorically denied the lawsuit’s claims.

“The allegations in today’s complaint that Pornhub is a criminal enterprise that traffics women and is run like ‘The Sopranos’ is utterly absurd, completely reckless and categorically false,” Pornhub wrote in an online statement.

Pornhub further told CBS News that it and its parent company have gone to great lengths to “[eradicate] illegal content.”

“We have banned uploads from unverified users, eliminated downloads, expanded our moderation process, and partnered with dozens of non-profit organizations around the world, steps that surpass those of any major platform on the internet.”


In a new lawsuit, more than 30 women accuse Pornhub of profiting from videos posted without their consent

Pornhub sued for allegedly serving nonconsensual sex videos

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