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Porn producer puts bounty on the Celebgate leaker
Porn site owner Mike Kulich is offering a cash reward for any information leading to the arrest of the “Fappening” leaker.
Pornographers are not traditionally considered paragons of ethical behavior, but Mike Kulich, the managing partner of Netflix-style porn website SkweezMe.com, is trying to prove otherwise. That’s why he says he’s offering a bounty for the arrest of whoever is behind Celebgate, the hack that resulted in the leak of nude photos of celebrities Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, and Ariana Grande.
Kulich sent out a press release Sunday offering a “sizable cash reward” to anyone with information on the celebrity nude photo leaker, who reportedly exploited a security flaw in Apple’s iCloud to post hundreds of celebrities’ private photos on 4chan. (Apple has contested that claim.)
“Although SkweezMe.com is a site that offers Adult Entertainment, we offer content that involves women that sign on to be seen naked by the world. Consent is the most important value of the adult business,” Kulich wrote. “What was executed by this individual is not only illegal, but shameful and we want this person brought to justice.”
He’s asking anyone with information related to the hack to send it to contact Skweez Media via its webpage, so it can forward the information to the legal authorities.
Kulich is certainly no stranger to the art of the porn PR grab. He’s previously made headlines by offering sizable porn production contracts to people involved in various high-profile news stories, from accused murderer Amanda Knox to “fine felon” Jeremy Meeks. In this case, the offer appears to be (at least in part) magnanimous.
“The adult industry feels very strongly about consent, which is why it has been heavily involved in our support for legislation banning revenge porn, which has become illegal in a number of different states,” Kulich told Vice. “Jennifer Lawrence’s pictures were meant to be private and whoever hacked her computer or phone had no right to ever see those pictures, let alone leak them to the world. We want this person brought to justice.”
Kulich also drew comparisons between the nude photo leak (dubbed the “Fappening” by Reddit) and the issue of porn piracy, or consumers not paying for adult content online. Just as people who illegally download and distribute porn do so without the performers and producers’ permission to do so, “the bottom line is that [people who use Celebgate photos as masturbatory material] are jacking off to something that was distributed without Ms. Lawrence’s consent,” Kulich told Vice.
Kulich is not the first person in the adult industry to publicly take a stand against Celebgate and the 4chan user (or users) behind the leak. Adult performer Jiz Lee also spoke out against the Fappening, drawing parallels between the nude photo leak and fans pirating adult content:
Thinking about Privacy vs Piracy, and how stealing/selling/posting leaked photos is not only non-consensual but also copyright violation.
— Jiz Lee (@jizlee) September 2, 2014
Compare celebrity photo leaks to porn piracy. Despite opposite distribution intentions, both deserve respecting copyright. Privacy, piracy.
— Jiz Lee (@jizlee) September 2, 2014
Even Pornhub—a streaming tube site that is the target of ire among many in the adult industry— has implicitly taken a stand against Celebgate. When the photos were flagged by fellow Daily Dot reporter Rob Price, Pornhub seems to have removed them from the site. (When contacted by the reporter, Pornhub declined to comment.)
In a brief conversation with the Daily Dot, Kulich said he has since received about five or six tips so far regarding the identity of the hacker, one of which he says is a document confirming that the source of the leak is Bryan Hamade, a.k.a. redditor u/BluntMastermind. Hamade denied to the Daily Dot that he is the central source of the leak. Kulich said he has forwarded the tip to law enforcement authorities.
On Monday, the FBI said in a statement that it was aware of the hack and is “addressing the matter.” Apple has also stated that it is “actively investigating” reports that an iCloud security hole was responsible for the hack.
EJ Dickson is a writer and editor who primarily covers sex, dating, and relationships, with a special focus on the intersection of intimacy and technology. She served as the Daily Dot’s IRL editor from January 2014 to July 2015. Her work has since appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Mic, Bustle, Romper, and Men’s Health.