Nearly two months after photos of Jennifer Lawrence, Rihanna, Kate Upton, and other celebrities were reportedly stolen from Apple’s iCloud service and distributed online, links to sites hosting Lawrence’s photos have started being removed from Google.
According to the Guardian, Google removed two links to a site hosting the stolen photos, after Lawrence’s lawyers filed takedown requests under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), claiming copyright infringement.
Google has been under intense scrutiny since the photos were leaked in late August. In early October, they were threatened with a $100 million lawsuit for failing to remove the stolen images a month after a takedown request. Entertainment lawyer Martin Singer, whose firm represents several of the women hacked, sent a letter to Google claiming, among other things, that the company “has turned a blind eye while its sites repeatedly exploit and victimize these women.”
In a response statement, Google staffers claimed they’ve “removed tens of thousands of pictures—within hours of the requests being made—and we have closed hundreds of accounts. The Internet is used for many good things. Stealing people’s private photos is not one of them.”
4chan, where the photos originated, has a copyright-violation policy, but the number of images that appear and quickly disappear on the site is so vast, the policy isn’t much help. Reddit did update its policy after the photos appeared and were removed, however.
While this is a small victory for Lawrence and her lawyers, there are still many more links to be removed, and noise to cut through. Earlier this month, Corynne McSherry, intellectual property director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the Daily Dot, “Google isn’t required to go out and affirmatively search for, locate, and then take down all the examples of a certain piece of copyrighted content.”
In an exclusive interview with Vanity Fair, Lawrence called out the sites hosting these photos for profit, and called the hack a sex crime.