So, what’s at fault here?

An art student was arrested and charged with making “revenge porn” for including a naked photograph of her former boyfriend in a university project. Lauren Smith, 26, included a heavily-cropped photograph of the man in a piece of artwork, which was awarded a first and published on her artwork Facebook page -but none of her personal social media accounts.

The University of Lincoln student was charged with disclosing a private, sexual photograph with intent to cause distress – the charge commonly known as “revenge porn” after her former boyfriend claimed to have identified himself and was “embarrassed”.

The original image had been ‘topped and tailed’ to edit out the head and genitals, but the complainant argued he could identify himself in it.

The artist made no reference as to who the image, set within a number of other photographs, depicted, a court heard.

Ms Smith denied the charge, alleged to have been committed between May and September last year, and was due to stand trial at Maidstone Crown Court on Wednesday.

Yes, of course it’s a stupid law and crappily written too. But what’s worse, the basic idea or the crappiness of the drafting?

Just a thought, but if we extended this idea to words – we cannot cause distress by revealing private, sexual, stuff – that’s most of the poetry of Sylvia Plath dealt with then, isn’t it?

16 comments on “So, what’s at fault here?

  1. that’s most of the poetry of Sylvia Plath dealt with then, isn’t it?

    Silver lining to any cloud…

  2. I would have thought the principle was si.please and straightforward: what is bad isn’t necessarily and shouldn’t necessarily be illegal; what is legal shouldn’t be assumed to be good.

    So tosspot rugby union players spit roasting slags in Belfast is disgusting. Wash your hands anytime you go near them or her, but don’t FFS charge them with rape.

    Oh, and this revenge porn bitch: let’s post her photo all over every social media platform we can find.

  3. It’s a shit law but let’s apply it fairly to both sexes, against the intentions of those who pushed for it in the first place.

  4. Lauren Smith, 26, included a heavily-cropped photograph of the man in a piece of artwork, which was awarded a first and published on her artwork Facebook page -but none of her personal social media accounts.

    Two points – if it is ‘her’ artwork Facebook page then surely it is in some way her personal account?

    Second, you get a First these days for that? Best educated generation in history, etc.

    Oh, and thirdly – 26 and still at university?

  5. let’s post her photo all over every social media platform we can find.

    But “heavily crop” it so it meets the conditions of this judge, then she can have no complaints.

  6. It is a poorly written law if it does not require any actual harm done before a prosecution. He recognised himself. OK. But did anyone else recognise him? Surely for there to be any harm, there has to be some harm. So what harm has happened here? She was convicted for potential harm?

    But I do not much mind revenge porn laws in general. We have a new technology and it enables people to be horrible to each other in new and interesting ways. Perhaps there is a case for a new law. Emma Sulkowicz got credit for defaming an ex-boyfriend for years. I think someone should have stopped that.

    Luckily, unless she changes her name and moves to Bhutan, she will be paying for it for the rest of her life.

  7. Surely it comes down to consent – if she wanted a picture of a naked torso to be included in her artwork, then its up to her to ensure the person so depicted agrees to it, such as finding a model to pose, and take the shots she needed, and all would be well.

    One assumes that there has to be an implied assumption of privacy to any photos taken of a sexual nature – its not just a case of ‘Well I took the picture and its my camera so I can do what I like with it’ surely?

  8. The article says the criminal offense is “disclosing a private, sexual photograph with intent to cause distress”.

    If the facts are as reported, it really doesn’t sound like she had any “intent to cause distress”, so not a criminal act.

    Either she’ll be found innocent at trial, or there’s more going on here than has been reported.

    Jim is right – not only should she have got consent, but also the university should have insisted that she had consent. But that’s a civil law matter, not criminal. If I were the boyfriend, I’d sue her and the university jointly for breach of privacy.

  9. So if she took the photo when they were at the beach would it be a ‘private sexual photo’ how can you prove that the torso photo was taken in a sexual context, how can you prove the context of such a heavily cropped photo at all, also if he had agreed to model for her (not unheard of in the arts world) then are we back to what is consent and how long does it last

  10. If it doesn’t meet the criteria for someone being charged with public indecency can it be considered ‘naked’ is there even a legal definition that applies?
    In Canada women can walk around topless as to prevent them and not men would be sexual discrimination, there are activists who do this as the police are known to stop them and then they can make a point. Amusingly one officer tried to use the offence of distracting other road users to stop a top less cyclist.

  11. Re Jim’s comment & sort of peripheral to this.

    Just heard another girl bitchin’ about a photo of her turning up on a social media site of another girl. Not definitively of a sexual nature but definitely what one might regard as “hot”. As I said to her, if she spends so much time either taking photos of herself or getting into other people’s photos trying to look as desirable as possible. And sending hers to people & demanding they send them their’s when she’s in them. What can she expect?
    The advent of the smartphone with its camera & connectivity has been a complete sea change in photography. What ownership can you claim on something you pass around with such abandon? That you exert considerable effort to partake in?

  12. Perhaps the article underwent a late-night edit? It’s very poorly constructed.

    Also, notice the face of the art student, Lauren Smith, in the recent Telegraph photo compared to the head shot she uses on her Facebook page.

  13. Why have a go at the law, it’s was just a dodgy prosecution decision. Even the prosecutor was persuaded out of it.

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