Is it possible to buy off content owners in the adult entertainment business?
May 18, 2008 5:18 AM   Subscribe

I want to help a friend get some nude photos removed from the 'net before they cause real damage.

A classmate desperate for tuition money recently posed for a large portfolio of nude photographs. The photographer runs a largish, profitable erotic amateur model site, and has made the photos available online both in his free sample area and for paid subscribers. These photos will ruin my friend's (soon-to-be) career should they ever become public knowledge, and she hasn't told a soul at school except me.

I told her I would have been happy to loan her the money had she told me beforehand that things were so bad, but since she's already been paid I'm wondering if the photographer might be amenable to bribery. If I offer to pay him to remove the photos, do my fellow MeFites think your average semi-pro pr0n-monger might spring for it? He is local to me and has a real-world presence, so I know who and where he is. Cost is no object, but if I'm going to open negotiations then I'd like to know what kind of damage I might be in for. Or do we just wait and hope that nothing ever comes of it?
posted by anonymous to Media & Arts (53 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
It seems like anyone would be willing to accept an amount of money matching the amount he stands to make from them, plus expenses. But then, if you are willing to pay that, why shouldn't he hold out for more? And still, I don't know if buying them from him, assuming you trust him, would do what you want. Once things are on the internet, they are on the internet. There's no real putting the genie back in the bottle.
posted by dirtdirt at 5:33 AM on May 18, 2008


If you do try bribery, get a lawyer and make a legal contract so that there are costs to breaking it, i.e. assume your friend becomes a public figure, then there's no downside to the photographer selling the photos unless you have an agreement.
posted by idb at 5:54 AM on May 18, 2008


A lot of this depends on what sort of model release the friend signed. If she didn't sign one, then you can just tell the photographer to stop displaying them on pain of law suit (yr jurisdiction may vary). If she did, then it's down to however much cash he's going to ask for.

However, if the photos are on a subscription porn site, it's doubtless too late, as they'll have been seen and copied by the members.
posted by bonaldi at 5:56 AM on May 18, 2008


Once things are on the internet, they are on the internet. There's no real putting the genie back in the bottle.

That's not at all true.

Is there a reason you can't explain the situation to him and ask him to take them down? Not saying it'll work, but most people aren't assholes. And how would her future colleagues find this photo? And would they be willing to admit where they found it if they outed you, in the unlikely case that they would out you (see my earlier statement about assholes)?
posted by mpls2 at 6:23 AM on May 18, 2008


*you = she/her
posted by mpls2 at 6:24 AM on May 18, 2008


Don't lowball it. Don't try to offer the lowest amount you think he would accept. My sense is that your garden-variety online porn-mongers aren't actually making that much money, but rather just a stream of fairly small payments. If you offer him, say, $10,000 or $20,000 he might reason, "Damn, now I can buy that car/Rolex/etc. that I have been wanting." You want to offer enough that it's an absolute no-brainer for the guy. Since he runs a porn site, you already know he is a greedy piece of shit, so you have to speak his language, and that's the language of big bucks.

And frankly, $10,000 or more seems a rather small price to pay to save a career that is facing imminent destruction.

So how much money are you willing to invest in this?

If the nice approach doesn't work, I think you should consider hiring a good lawyer --- I mean an aggressive litigator at an AmLaw 200 firm --- to go after this guy.

Although your friend may have signed a binding release, don't bet on it. There may be problems with what she signed, that would give a good lawyer an opening to destroy this guy. And there's something about getting a threatening letter from a huge firm that makes the average Joe shit his pants.
posted by jayder at 6:41 AM on May 18, 2008


That's not at all true.
Yes, it really really is. If nude pictures have appeared on a site that people who are into nude pictures go to, rest assured someone has squirreled them away. Chances are the motivation/ability to link these pictures with your friend is low enough that it won't be an issue, but to think that they are gone if the site takes them down is laughable. If it's out there it is out there, and saying that it isn't true does not make it not true.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:52 AM on May 18, 2008 [8 favorites]


If they are on the 'sample pages' then they have probably already been mirrored by a hundred different sites. That part of the genie won't go back in the bottle.
posted by unSane at 6:52 AM on May 18, 2008


Once the photos were put online, they began to copied onto hard drives around the world. The photos will most certainly be passed-around and shared on boards and image sites all over the place. They may not be directly identifiable as your friend, but, eventually, someone who knows her will see one and recognize her...or at least think it looks a hell of a lot like her. That's simply the truth about the way these things work.

Your friend can certainly try to persuade the site owner to take down the pics, but, even if he does comply, they are already out there.

Not saying it'll work, but most people aren't assholes. And how would her future colleagues find this photo? And would they be willing to admit where they found it if they outed you, in the unlikely case that they would out you

True. Most people aren't assholes. However, I've worked in enough offices to know there are a lot of guys out there who do surf a lot of porn who just might find these pics. And many of them will show them to other similarly-inclined co-workers in one of those "Hey, Bill. Who does this look like to you?" moments.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:59 AM on May 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Since he runs a porn site, you already know he is a greedy piece of shit

Cite, please.
posted by pieoverdone at 7:04 AM on May 18, 2008 [16 favorites]


If they are in a free sample area they have most likely already been downloaded and posted on a thousand other sites. Damage control is pointless, IMHO. She is probably better of spending the money on cosmetic surgery or change her looks.
posted by JJ86 at 7:09 AM on May 18, 2008


I think her worries are probably without basis, for several reasons:

(1) The ubiquity and volume of porn/nude photos works in her favor. Thinking that someone knows her is going to see the photos is kind of like thinking that you are going to find one particular fish in the ocean. The odds are overwhelmingly against it.

(2) It seems unlikely that even if someone who knows her were to see her photo, they would conclude, "OMG ... THAT'S HER!!!" The more likely response will be, "damn, that really looks like her but I know that she wouldn't pose for nude photos." Notice how, whenever the internet churns up alleged nude photos of celebrities who never do nude scenes, there is always debate about whether it is actually them.

(3) Even if an acquaintance/co-worker were certain the photos were of her, it seems unlikely that it would destroy her career. You say they are nude photos; unless she is showing pink, it sounds pretty forgivable. How, exactly, are the photos going to be passed around? There is an inherent shame-factor in admitting to co-workers that one looks at erotic websites. Even if a co-worker discovered them, it seems unlikely that the co-worker would pass them to a boss. (I am assuming she is in a regular industry, and is not a celebrity.)
posted by jayder at 7:23 AM on May 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


The benefit of getting them off of this site is that there's one less site with the images. That said, the amount you pay should be commensurate with that goal, and not with the goal of making them disappear entirely, because that ain't happening.

That said, be practical. Here's what I'd take into account when making the offer:

1. The amount she was paid. Return it all + interest.
2. The cost of the photo-shoot.
3. A reasonable fee to accommodate him for the money he would have made on her image.

If he's not a greedy asshole, this will be sufficient. If he's a greedy asshole, don't pay him a penny, because he's probably not going to stop distributing them ANYWAY. Oh, sure, he might take them off of his site... but then sell them to other sites, and what is your friend going to do, sue him, make a lot of noise, and draw attention to the photos?

I'd also dial-back the fear-o-meter a peg or two. This is a choice she made that many of her potential employers would/will be uncomfortable with if they know about it. Unless she plans to run for public office, this is just a hurdle and an embarrassment -- not a career ruiner. Yes, it might be a job ruiner, but I doubt this is really going to kill her career.

Yes, I know you're both law students. I'm a recent graduate. This is not going to be the end of the world, she's not going to be run out of town on a rail, and I doubt it's going to keep her from being admitted to the bar. Law students as a whole notoriously over-state the impact of things on their careers for lack of perspective. Don't be that guy because it's unrealistic and because it makes you/her desperate -- and desperate people do not make wise financial decisions.
posted by toomuchpete at 7:33 AM on May 18, 2008


"Even if a co-worker discovered them, it seems unlikely that the co-worker would pass them to a boss."

Printing them out with a URL and sliding them under the boss's door accomplishes the same goal without having to subject oneself to the "how did YOU come across them?" question.
posted by toomuchpete at 7:35 AM on May 18, 2008


Once the photos were put online, they began to copied onto hard drives around the world. The photos will most certainly be passed-around and shared on boards and image sites all over the place.

That's true, but there is a huge needle in a haystack problem here. Unless the poster's friend is going to run for president, what are the odds that someone is going to remember "oh, I saw her pic on some porn site in 2008 and I just happened to save it to my hard drive!" Data gets lost, and there is just so much porn out there. How often do people go back to images they saw before and load them up, rather then just going out for more porn.

I mean, my god the, um, average porn surfer, has probably seen thousands and thousands different women. I guarantee 99% of the women I've seen in porn I wouldn't recognize as such if I saw them at work on the street.

so as long as the photos are 'disassociated' from her name, it's extremely unlikely that anyone would ever make the connection, unless she becomes extremely famous

Also, is it just nude stuff, no hardcore sex? Is this really a problem? What career is she going into? Does she want to be a preacher or something? Our culture is becoming so pornified, it's hard to imagine that simple nude photos of someone would cause any problems for most careers.

As to whether or not you can buy off the photographer, I'm sure it depends on the guy. Many people would be willing to be bought off, but some might not be. Can you tell us what industry she's going into, though? It just seems hard for me to believe that nude photos (and nude photos alone) would really kill someone's career in this day and age.
posted by delmoi at 7:38 AM on May 18, 2008


frankly, she's never going to have a career in politics, at least not in the US.

other than that, I have a hard time thinking of this as a career-ruiner.

Potentially embarassing?

Sure.

Getting something taken off of the internet is like taking pee out of a pool, it's just not going to happen.
posted by Oktober at 7:42 AM on May 18, 2008


I recently helped a female friend get a bit of text taken off of the net. It, ah, was showing up as a #1 hit for her in Google, less so in Yahoo and MSN. Of course, it's still on the Wayback Machine, nothing I can do about that.

I had to wade through a lot of automated sites that slurped up information from other sites and had replicated it. There was wheedling. Research. Cajoling. It took four months for all of the appropriate sites to be recrawled, etc. And that was just text. You can search for text and see where it lives. Not so with images, yet.

Because this was in the pay for and the free section, it's doubtlessly been replicated. How long has it been up? The real question is ... are the pictures interesting enough that they'd get recirculated?

That is, is your friend just garden-variety cute, or Pole Vaulter Girl hot? Was it a standard, "tee hee, I am naughty" photo shoot, or something unusual? Both of those factors determine just how likely these images are to go back out into the world if you manage to get them taken down. If they're nothing special, then I imagine they would just end up on someone's hard drive and eventually the drive crashes ... and that's that.
posted by adipocere at 7:56 AM on May 18, 2008


The photographer runs a largish, profitable erotic amateur model site, and has made the photos available online both in his free sample area and for paid subscribers.

Bill Clinton was getting oral sex in the White House and he came out ok. Your friend will do fine if she can spin it right. Realistically, that's her only option, to have a story ready for when they pictures are discovered, which they will be. Someone, somewhere will remember them and make the connection. So she should live with that fact and be prepared for when it happens.

Even if you got the site to take the photos down, she can never, ever be completely sure they won't resurface. Might as well live with the fact that they will and be prepared for it.

FYI, you might also want to delete some of your personal details from your profile, or ask the mods to make this an anonymous post, as it would be crazy easy for some people to connect her to the photos now, even if they're taken off the site, with you making this post. If she really wants to erase all traces of the posts, you posting under your real name, with a website, location and school major is not going to help.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:00 AM on May 18, 2008


This is a remarkably small window in which it matters. You're on the trailing slope of credibility of photos. Even now, it takes minimal effort to manufacture any image at all, and in the next five years, everyday people with everyday technology will be able to fake any image at all. We've come a long way since Arthur Conan Doyle wrote of "Fairies Photographed. An Epoch-Making Event" in the Dec 1920 "The Strand Magazine". Today, one can buy photo editing software and be an expert in a few months, and that will make everyone incredulous of unusual photos pretty soon.
posted by cmiller at 8:07 AM on May 18, 2008


Bill Clinton was getting oral sex in the White House and he came out ok. Your friend will do fine if she can spin it right.

I'd say, the "spin" should consist of a shrug and a refusal to apologize, and perhaps even to comment. Brazen it out. Keep your chin up and smile. Treat it like a non-issue and it'll become one. She didn't do anything illegal or immoral. Frankly, to a lot of people, hearing something like this about someone who is damn good at their profession just makes them more interesting. So don't throw money at this problem now or make any effort to tilt at windmills. It's money and time that's better spent on almost anything else.

The only warning I'd give your friend is just don't become some sort of morality crusader or Dr. Laura-type, because when the nude shots do surface she'll look like a hypocrite, and no one respects a hypocrite. But actually that's good advice for anyone in any situation.
posted by orange swan at 8:23 AM on May 18, 2008 [2 favorites]



Stop panicking.
Your friend is in college. She is not important enough to warrant an Entertainment Tonight piece on her nipples the way a Janet Jackson cum Superbowl was if she’s thinking about companies firing her. Another issue would be if she’s currently on American Idol or something like that. I have dealt with a couple of such shitstorms, the most recent involving an eighties star, alcohol, a camera and a commercial that was supposed to break the very same weekend and even that was salvageable. A little more information from you as to her career path might help. Did she sign a death and disgrace clause with a potential employer (that would be a reason to talk to them before they find out)?

Also stop talking about this photographer as a “pr0n-monger.” The porn business is way too tough to do it for fun for any length of time. This is some guy trying to make a living, much like someone running a laundromat or car wash. This is your main advantage. You are most likely dealing with someone running a business here. People around the world may have copied these images but it's doubtful her name is connected to it (unless she did give her full, real name on video and that’s on the site, which wouldn’t be very smart to begin with if this embarrasses her). I'd suggest that unless she suddenly becomes a person of national interest those images are unlikely to ever come up once removed from the web.

If this photographer is a pro she likely has signed a model release. that means the guy can pretty much ask for a price to remove the shots. I would approach him and ask nicely if there is something to be worked out and I would have her with you contact this photographer. if the number coming back is at all reasonable (i.e. what he could expect to make of it in the next two to five years), I'd take it. make him sign a real "I will not share/use these images" clause. Note that this guy has worked here: he has established contact, which isn’t easy, shot her, facilitated equipment, put it on the web. That’s a service and should be paid as such. He wouldn’t be unreasonable to ask for $10,000 to remove a set of still images and giving up all rights to them in writing. Good will is key here — if you antagonise him you give him a reason to come back at you at some later point. This is how pictures end up on TMZ. That litigious attorney? Very, very last resort.

let's talk a bit about damage control:

even if this all works out you should not be under the illusion that these images are gone. if you do pop up on american idol and someone has a nude picture on his harddrive, they might very well recognize you and they might very well send this along to tmz and the likes. it's out there, it's not going away. you might also have to deal with the thought of the photographer changing his mind and selling this for six figures once you have decided to run for the office of vice president or become a national church spokesperson. You can sue him and you will win but the stuff will have been seen by then. rule of thumb: if you do work in a professional function with a conservative entity or children (aka teen television presenter) that part of your career will be toast. that does not however mean your career per se is over. how you spin this is crucial. you will most likely be more recognizable thanks to this, not less. corporate functions such as a public relations spokesperson depend on the companies and industries. an immediate role might end but that does not mean you should consider your career to be over, especially if you have positive results on your record. many companies will be happy to pick up a big gun at a bargain cost if a "scandal" is six months in the past, which will you allow to rebound. old news is no news and a conviction would be worse. (I am writing all this assuming you didn't star in two girls one cup or something involving horses. general tittie-pictures are a fact of life, that kind of stuff however would have a far greater effect.)

pornography does not need to end your career. the "I was young and needed the money" kind of images have been discovered for more celebs/persons of interest than you seem to be aware of. a lot depends on how you handle it. should the moment ever come when you are confronted with them, make the story about something else. own up to them instantly and embrace them. say a lot of things like "oh yeah, I remember that. that was SUCH a tough time. I ate ramen noodles for MONTHS. this was my last resort. before I did that, I worked ... slept only... and such and such." making this into a complicated story of struggle and as part of your attempts to overcome adversity is way too juicy to be ignored by journos. you do have the means to shape this story, though you can't fully supress the images to come out, no matter how fiercly to fight. the key here is to give this a "you go girl" kind of spin. planning ahead might be something for you to think about with a good pr professional (read: someone recommended, not off craigslist) who will school you in greater detail how to work this moment. whatever you do, don't run away crying/covering your face from cameras or decline to comment. that will give those trying to make this into a story license to turn it into whatever they like.

I hope this is at least somewhat helpful. not know the kind of career/situation more precisely limits what I can say to help you. feel free to contact me via my mefi mail if you have more detailed questions.
posted by krautland at 8:36 AM on May 18, 2008 [9 favorites]


I heard this on NPR quite a while ago, but it may be able to help you.
Startups Help Clean Up Online Reputations

In case the article disappears in the future, they reference Reputation Defender and Naymz. Both companies are considered to be in the business of "identity management".

Good luck!
posted by mcarthey at 8:49 AM on May 18, 2008


Is there a reason you can't explain the situation to him and ask him to take them down?

Because he's a businessperson that produces content for a profitable website, and he paid the model for her work-time and the rights for him to display the pictures. The photographer and model agreed to this before the shooting began, before the check was cut, and before the pictures were placed on the internet.

Sure, your friend was broke when she decided that she wanted to do this, and she wouldn't have done it without the money but it sounds like she made an informed decision, and wasn't under duress when she SIGNED OVER THE DISPLAY/DISTRIBUTION RIGHTS to the pictures generated during this paid photo shoot.

She knew what she was doing. He knew what he was doing. They agreed to this in writing (and if this is an established site/photographer, they likely used a well-vetted contract that heavily favors the site). She knew the work was nude and was being produced for distribution on a subscription porn site. He paid her in exchange for the work at a rate suitable for what he was going to do with it. Why should he take the pictures down?

You can offer to buy the rights back... but any businessperson worth their salt would know that he's holding all the cards, and that he can set the price anywhere he pleases (you can't buy this from anyone else, and he is under no obligation to sell to you at all.)

The production of the images cost him some money (studio, photographer, model fee, etc. etc.). The use of the images makes him some money. At a bare minimum, the pictures are worth every dime he spent to produce them, plus every dime he'll ever make by using them, plus the value of every minute that he would have to spend dealing with you/her/your lawyer, and the time it takes to remove the pictures and replace them with others. (plus the opportunity cost associated with it becoming known that this photographer can be persuaded to give back your images -- go to him for a short term loan!) To see a price tag in the tens of thousands of dollars wouldn't be the least surprising. I'd expect him to at least double it he finds out she's a law student in the Red place that your profile suggests. And you still wouldn't get every copy on every hard drive deleted... especially if he's sold them (with signed model release) to other adult sites.

This isn't nearly as career-limiting as you're making it out to be. You (and she'd) be better off learning how to let this not bother you -- you know, to accept the inherent consequences of her (well-informed) actions.

On preview, I'm in the don't apologize, don't deny, and don't make an issue of it camp. She was in porn once, as a broke student. So were lots of other people. So what.
posted by toxic at 8:49 AM on May 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


The OP states with certainty that the pix "will" ruin the classmate's career should they "ever" become public, and has not responded in this thread to the suggestions to shrug it off if she's confronted in her workplace.

Yes, Bill Clinton got past his little problem, but not without considerable trouble. Eliot Spitzer didn't.

Perhaps we should assume that Classmate has a job lined up in a district attorney's office, or as a Supreme Court law clerk, or something public of that sort. In which case, should the pix turn up, she would certainly be (quietly) asked to resign.

As stated a number of times, even buying the rights back will not prevent the images from circulating. But it will slow down the flow considerably, so if indeed money is no object, I would make the approach, perhaps starting by doubling or tripling the photographer's investment.

Beyond that, to further lessen her risk (which definitely can never be completely eliminated) Classmate should radically alter her hair style, standard shades of lipstick and other makeup, and general level of skin tan (if Caucasian). Easy-to-do appearance changes will at least cut down on her recognizability in the pix. (Guys aren't looking at the faces that much, anyway.)
posted by beagle at 9:33 AM on May 18, 2008


Easy-to-do appearance changes will at least cut down on her recognizability in the pix.

Yes, eyeglasses have a really transformative effect on one's appearance, obviously.

Wearing hair in a bob-style, if her hair was long in the scandalous photos, would also introduce significant doubt about whether it is her.

Hair coloring, too.
posted by jayder at 9:38 AM on May 18, 2008


If she really wants to erase all traces of the posts, you posting under your real name, with a website, location and school major is not going to help.

I know the post has been made anonymous now, so maybe that's a non-issue, but she really did not show much prudence in confiding this to anyone, including you. After all, you came over here and initially posted this with a bunch of identifying details about yourself, risking making matters worse for her. Everyone has one or two people they really trust not to tell anyone, and if she's confiding in even one person, she is potentially outing herself, because she doesn't know who her "trusted friends" will confide in. Attorneys are big talkers and love scandal and scuttlebutt; even if the scandalous photos are disclosed to only to trusted friends, the news will be all over the local legal community before she can say "youthful indiscretion."

So perhaps the most helpful advice you can give her is to stop confiding in anyone about this issue.
posted by jayder at 9:46 AM on May 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


As noted above, the proper approach is to pay off the photographer. But something to keep in mind when you sign the new negotiated rights contract is to make sure that you're taking all the copyright away from him, and also having him return all IDs and model releases and 2257 forms. This will make it illegal for him to keep copies of the images and make it substantially harder to prove that it was your friend at some point down the road. Of course, he'll still have a copy of the contract, but photographers are the primary leak point for nude photos. Everyone else can speculate that they have copies of your friend's pictures, but only the photog would be able to prove it. Take away his ability to leak those photos and your friend will be substantially safer.
posted by klangklangston at 9:51 AM on May 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


What Jayder said. The probability of someone who is in a position to ruin her career seeing the nudie pics seems very, very low. Add that to the fact that the pics are doubtless spread all over the hardrives of the perverts of the world, and unless she's planning to run for major office soon, I'd say it's not worth the money for any amount of money more than five bucks.
posted by paultopia at 9:55 AM on May 18, 2008


mpls2 writes "And how would her future colleagues find this photo? And would they be willing to admit where they found it if they outed you, in the unlikely case that they would out you (see my earlier statement about assholes)?"

Contrary to popular belief it's not just basement living perverts who look at pornography. And Hotmail/Yahoo make it pretty easy to distribute this material to a focused list anonymously.

If your friend is attractive and ever even moderately, local level, famous council her to expect these photos to come out. At a minimum any that were of the sample variety. You know how the metafilter detective squad is with self linkers? Well there are lots of people with the memory and inclination in the amateur porn sharing world to root this stuff out. Many of the community sites dedicated to sharing photos have archives going back years or even a decade. She should be prepared with a practised response whether that response is of the no comment bent or the "I have learned from the mistakes I may or may not have made. When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible." variety or even "Ya, I looked good back then didn't I?".

beagle writes "Beyond that, to further lessen her risk (which definitely can never be completely eliminated) Classmate should radically alter her hair style, standard shades of lipstick and other makeup, and general level of skin tan (if Caucasian). Easy-to-do appearance changes will at least cut down on her recognizability in the pix. (Guys aren't looking at the faces that much, anyway.)"

A couple of "birthmarks" tattoo'd on in a business attire visible place would do wonders. Just a couple dots at the base of her neck, bottom of her spine and on her chest for example would enable plausible deny ability that the images are of a look-alike. It's little hints like that that the porn detectives look for when ruling out whether a nameless nude photo is/was of a known person.
posted by Mitheral at 10:12 AM on May 18, 2008


She should be prepared with a practised response

Come on, Mitheral, do you really expect she is going to be called to the boss's office, presented with the scandalous photos, and asked, "What do you have to say for yourself?"

No. At worst, she will not be hired, or she will be let go with a pretextual explanation.

She will not have an opportunity to respond.

A couple of "birthmarks" tattoo'd on in a business attire visible place

Defacing/scarring her body to create plausible deniability is going too far.
posted by jayder at 10:45 AM on May 18, 2008


jayder writes "Come on, Mitheral, do you really expect she is going to be called to the boss's office, presented with the scandalous photos, and asked, 'What do you have to say for yourself?'"

Nope, but the uncultured moron who lives next door might ask her about it. It sure wouldn't hurt to at least think about potential responses for a few minutes even if that response is non committal.

jayder writes "Defacing/scarring her body to create plausible deniability is going too far."

Whether it's a defacement I guess is in the eye of the beholder, lots of people with tattoos out there, many consisting of a dot or two or several. It is however a very strong technique. Apparent moles on the known subject that don't appear in the unknown identity photos heavily weigh on the negative side when the junior detectives start puzzling out the authenticity of the photos.
posted by Mitheral at 11:15 AM on May 18, 2008


Forgive me if someone has already suggested this (I used every search term I could think of) but is it possible to convince the photog that she was under-age at the time of the shoot?
posted by dinger at 11:26 AM on May 18, 2008


There is no way once the pictures have been posted online that your friend can completely eliminated the 'threat" of this being revealed. The impact on her life is utterly dependent on the career she has chosen. If it's a career in politics or government or if she is going to be a teacher or something. But it won't ruin her life.

Buying them back from the photographer will strengthen her position from the legal and contractual standpoint, but it won't stop electrons.

The sad thing is the only reason it will have any impact at all is this duplicitous attitude we have about sex. Somehow in public life we must pretend that only pervs and freaks look at porn. Except if statistics are correct somewhere around 70-80% of adults consume pornographic material. WE are the pervs and freaks.

And if we should not judge your fried for posing for pictures because she needed money then we are not in any position to judge the photographer for taking the pictures for money.

I' go with the Plan B approach. Get the "An act of youthful indiscretion" alibi going.

Maybe you can tell her this anecdote. I have an old girlfriend that I still run into every now and again. We work in the same business. She is a very memorable and highly attractive woman. And many years ago she also did some nude modeling for a very brief period and it was largely forgotten. In recent years some of those photos were put online. Even though they were taken in the late 1980's. It became somewhat, briefly, infamous once they got online. How ever in her professional life it had almost no effect. Why? She addressed the issue only once and very unapologetically and frankly BEFORE most of her coworkers even knew. In fact she even showed people who were curious.

In her opinion that paled in comparison to the sexism she faced before she feared people potentially thought she was a "slut" for posing nude when she was 20. In the professional environment I have never heard of it even being brought up.

The funny thing is I now know a half a dozen people who have some kind of old pornographic images floating around online. Are people shocked about that kind of thing anymore?
posted by tkchrist at 12:18 PM on May 18, 2008


Can someone explain something to me? I think I must be misunderstanding the issue:

It sounds to me like a young woman made an informed decision to post for some nude phoots, in full knowledge that they would be posted on a website. She was paid to do this. Now, after having received and likely spent the money, she is trying to prevent the photos from being seen and people are suggesting underhanded tactics like lying about being underage to have them removed.

Unless I'm missing something, the answer is: the website has every right to display these photos. You can certainly try to buy the rights back from the website but they are under no obligation to sell them to you. And even if they do agree, they have no way to prevent all the people who have already saved these images into their spank banks from emailing/posting/whatevering the photos around.

I think this is likely a doomed enterprise.

Lastly, I think you should entertain the possibility that you're being used here.
posted by Justinian at 12:57 PM on May 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Perhaps we should assume that Classmate has a job lined up in a district attorney's office, or as a Supreme Court law clerk, or something public of that sort.

Or teaching. Or any kind of works-with-kids job.

If the guy won't sell the photos back, work on the Marilyn Monroe defence ("I was young and naive and taken advantage of!"). It wasn't true for her, but it worked anyway.
posted by rodgerd at 1:24 PM on May 18, 2008


Justinian beat me to it. How well do you know and trust this friend? How do you know these photos even exist? This seems like the perfect setup for a con.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:40 PM on May 18, 2008


There is a huge difference between porn and nude photographs. Unless your friend is incredibly hot or incredibly famous, it is unlikely that anyone will notice, unless it's something incredibly hardcore. I'm guessing the photos don't involving another woman and a cup, or fauna of any kind.

I'd still try and get them back, but remind your friend how many thousand college students are doing the same thing now. When I walk through campus these days, the majority of 'earn fast cash' posters are for naked pics. This kind of thing doesn't have nearly the stigma it once did.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 2:51 PM on May 18, 2008


My first instinct was also that it must be a con. Are you sure this photographer isn't just her boyfriend or something?

Alternatively, if your friend was desperate enough to pose nude for cash, she might just be desperate enough to milk you to the tune of thousands of dollars.

Why are you and your money even involved in this? It's her problem. You're a great friend, clearly, and that's truly admirable, but don't give her dime one.

(Or is this like, "Doctor, I have this friend who has this rash..."?)
posted by Sys Rq at 3:55 PM on May 18, 2008


"Lastly, I think you should entertain the possibility that you're being used here."

yes. you are being played here. the chivalrous dupe. money no object.
posted by darkpony at 4:00 PM on May 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


also having him return all IDs and model releases and 2257 forms. This will make it illegal for him to keep copies of the images

uhm, no. says wikipedia: On October 23, 2007, the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the record keeping requirements were facially invalid because they imposed an overbroad burden on legitimate, constitutionally protected speech.

that's not the end to all this but the status quo is that he just has to check her id. he'd be smart to make a copy and get a model release signed but is fairly free to not do so if he were so inclined.

I also don't think you can ask for all this since he will sty need to keep documentation to do his income taxes. a regular sale of rights will do if this guy is legit and if he isn't all bets are off anyway.

jayder: you're missing a crucial aspect - if she is employed in a public fashion like a pr rep who represents and speaks for the company, they probably have a death and disgrace clause already in place. she will have to disclose this should this be the case and she will be open to immediate dismissal and perhaps even financial penalties.

I apologize...but she needs to own up to what she did.
you are mistaken, P.o.B. - this is what she would have to do were she you. implying that she not being you would have to do so is wrong. I find your rationale to be akin to a deer in headlights and rather damaging than helpful.
posted by krautland at 4:40 PM on May 18, 2008


and for the record: I should have proofread my long answer way above. damn.
posted by krautland at 4:46 PM on May 18, 2008


Why exactly can't she just say it's not her? Lots of people look similar. Unless the photos are associated with her actual name I can't see how this is going to be a problem, because in the vast majority of cases the pictures are never going to be associated with her.
posted by delmoi at 6:01 PM on May 18, 2008


My own two cents worth.

There is a VAST amount of porn out there. In my time, I have looked at some of it (secret confessions of a mefite!). I don't think I would ever recognise someone from one of those pics in the street. If I founds some torrents or open directories, I could probably images of thousands of different people in porn in the next few hours.

People aren't going to see a person who is made up for a porn shoot and connect it with someone they meet at a business meeting.

New porn is being produced at a huge rate. The pee is in the pool so to speak, you can't remove it, but it will rapidly be buried under the constant avalanche.

People looking at porn are not generally trying to commit a face to memory.

I worked with a girl, and saw a picture set that looked JUST like her, including basic jewellery. My thoughts? `That looks just like her!'. But would I have asked her if she modelled for porn? Shown her the pics and say `Look what I found! She looks just like you!'. You couldn't pay me enough to do that.

I have a friend who posed nude for a magazine. Never saw it. Never hunted it down (and it wasn't an obscure mag). Don't care. Same with everyone who knows her. Nobody has ever mentioned it to her.

How would people find it? If you gave us her name and address, we would not be able to find her online as she's not going to be on the site with her name.

Finally, if someone in a professional situation brings it up she can just deny it. Who's going to insist `No, look that's definitely you'. Hello sexual harassment lawsuit.

Few people are going to stand up and say `I was browsing porn the other night, and...'.
posted by tomble at 6:34 PM on May 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


She went, had nude pictures taken of herself, and knew full well what he was going to do with them! I'm sorry but I fail to see why you would want to help someone (after the fact) who says "Whoops, I must've slipped!"

Having earlier counseled the you to offer the pornographer a lot of money, I am finding myself persuaded by the posters who are thinking you are being duped. What is inducing you to open your wallet --- "cost is no object" --- to make the unfortunate consequences of a classmate's youthful indiscretion go away?

I have very dear friends, but I can't say that if they had flashed their genitals to a stranger with a camera, I would have a "cost is no object" approach to helping them solve the ensuing problems.

Something is very weird here. Perhaps you're not being duped, but do consider the possibility that your classmate's willingness to have you throw money at the problem is just another instance of your classmate's poor judgment that will continue to haunt her more than a few nude photos floating around in the ocean of internet sleaze.
posted by jayder at 6:41 PM on May 18, 2008


"uhm, no. says wikipedia: On October 23, 2007, the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the record keeping requirements were facially invalid because they imposed an overbroad burden on legitimate, constitutionally protected speech."

And this is why you shouldn't trust Wikipedia for legal advice. The 2257 record keeping requirements were found unconstitutional in the Sixth Circuit, not nation-wide, and since the photos are being posted on the web, the photographer still would have to have those records or be subject to prosecution. Further, model releases are separate from the 2257 record keeping requirement.

He will not need the IDs to do his taxes as the models are not employees, but rather independent contractors, and he would be omitting the OP's friend from his taxes.

But please do not give advice on 2257 law, especially citing Wikipedia.
posted by klangklangston at 9:45 PM on May 18, 2008


I find myself agreeing with jayder here. After explaining why the pornographer's potentially exorbitant price tag is potentially reasonable (though I still don't think there's any point in paying it), I'm now wondering if you might be getting set up for a con or some other sort of shenanigans. It's a long shot... but the commenters who think this thing smells wrong might be onto something.

Folks who are looking to go into your line of work, in the institution that I believe you're studying in, are pretty classic targets for this sort of thing -- there's a higher than average chance of finding "money is no object" there than in many other places, and a much higher likelihood of the cowboy "I can handle myself" attitude that is essential in any good mark. I'm not saying that you are -- but there are more of them around you than in the general population. Do the math.

Regardless of whether there's a way for money to make these pictures disappear, the money involved should not be yours.
posted by toxic at 10:09 PM on May 18, 2008


I agree with those saying that there is something wrong here. Your friend signed a contract and posed and is now worried about the repercussions? This doesn't strike me as the kind of person that I'd want in any position that could possibly be affected by this. I mean, it takes a certain amount of time to read and sign a contract, and in that time your friend never, ever thought that it might be a bad idea? (It may or may not be relevant to know how long ago this was). Lastly, as far as I know (and IANAL but I've read and signed plenty of contracts) part of what you are signing in a contract is the understanding that you've read the thing, that you've sought legal advice (or decided not to, as is you wish) and that you are of sound mind at the moment of signing. Those clauses are there so you can't wriggle out of the thing if you have second thoughts. Any of those caveats would have given me pause even as a naive undergraduate. Having said that, and I hope I'm not sounding too harsh or kicking someone when they're down, the positive to take from this is that this is a life lesson. If this is the mistake that means that your friend will think carefully about things before just doing them, then it's certainly a mistake that was worth making.

On the plus side, I do think think that it is unlikely that these images will surface and if they do your friend should go on the offensive to deal with it.
posted by ob at 7:48 AM on May 19, 2008


OP, i worry for your wallet. i don't necessarily smell a con- for one thing, the pics probably do exist, as the woman can easily show the OP the photos (probably already has). and i buy that this person might have a lapse in judgement, take the shots, then want the pics taken off the net. that scenario is way more plausible to me than the idea that she's running some sort of boyfriend-as-photographer ruse, which is way too elaborate and takes way too long.

but it sure does smell like the OP is being used. oh no, she made a mistake, why's it your job to bail her out? and money is no object? um, OP, do you have romantic feelings for this woman? i'd make sure they're heartily reciprocated before writing any cheques, that's for sure. who the heck lets their classmates declare "money is no object" to clean up the pee they left in the pool? that sounds like a bad friendship to me.


as to how this woman can save her future career:

she can eradicate all uses of her secret nickname (assuming she used one for the site) from her online persona- does she blog or email with the same alias? that should stop now, and she should upload random photos, locations, and names to disassociate herself from those personae if they did exist. she should replace all deleted profiles with loud, google-searchable ones that use a different handle and obviously trace back to her.

changing her eyebrow shape & hair colour & cut (especially around her hairline- nix the bangs, or cut some, because hairline & eyebrow shapes are what make people most recognizable) will help, as will getting rid of the jewellery & shoes she wore in the photos. if there were any "tame" pics from the shoot that she's using as facebook pics or whatever, those should go too (in case her haircut or makeup or the lighting or whatever makes it obvious that they were shot on the same day).

and most of all, i think that SHE, not you- who the heck are you to get involved- should politely approach the photog, explain that she had a change of heart, and offer to pay him to take them down. i don't think your involvement will help at all, and will probably hinder. personally, i would be extremely annoyed if i made a business agreement with someone, and then that person changed their mind & brought a random third party in to try and bribe me into terminating it. this photog guy probably doesn't think of himself as a sleaze- whatever your stance on the overall issue, remember that he paid a willing adult for something she volunteered to do- and you treating him like some sleaze baron and offering "money is no object" lines is likely just going to offend him, as well it should. if anything, your friend is the sleaze- not because of the photos, who cares about those- but because she's trying to reneg on a deal she willingly made.
posted by twistofrhyme at 8:52 PM on May 19, 2008


um, OP, do you have romantic feelings for this woman? i'd make sure they're heartily reciprocated before writing any cheques, that's for sure.

Well said. I was trying to think of a way to say this that wasn't rude, and twishofrhyme said it perfectly. I'm afraid anonymous may be a bit of a chump here. I would love more explanation of his relationship with the now-remorseful erotic model.
posted by jayder at 9:08 PM on May 19, 2008


Has she actually expressed any wish for the photos to be taken down?
posted by unSane at 10:09 AM on May 20, 2008


for the record: klangklangston is right and I am wrong about the 2257 law. ignore that part of my post as coming from a guy on the internet who may have meant well but got it wrong. which is a nice way of calling myself a moron.
posted by krautland at 11:07 AM on May 20, 2008


Lastly, I think you should entertain the possibility that you're being used here.
posted by Justinian at 2:57 PM on May 18


This, indeed, is the crux of the issue.

That doesn't mean it is a scam, necessarily, but there is undeniably a sense of the poster being taken advantage of.

And, quite honestly, if you're worried about her ruining her law career, I'd be more concerned that she doesn't know enough about contracts and how they work to even work out of a storefront office in a shopping center, much less any sort of prestige law firm.

Sorry, but you're being played like a violin here. "Money is no object". Are you serious? Do you mean $1,000 or $500,000, or truly any price the photog names?

This can only be true if you are truly WEALTHY. And, if you are truly WEALTHY, then give her a couple of million dollars and if her employer doesn't like her pictures, tell them to fuck off.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:14 AM on May 23, 2008


Also, I am squarely in the "you can't take the pee out of the pool" camp. Changing hairstyle, etc is sound advice. Any clothing/shoes (what little there likely was) should be thrown away, and any jewelry sold. The hair really is the giveaway. I would color it dramatically different, and get a radical haircut. One of those $500 deals from a real hairstylist.

If you truly are in the "money is no object" camp, then a fake car accident and some plastic surgery would be just the ticket. I'm being serious.

You also have to consider that if you do approach the guy, and he declines your request, she may become the new "feature" girl, as the guy might assume (and perhaps rightly so) that she is a "somebody" or someone of interest.

So, if you don't succeed, expect to see her front and center on the main page. Just something to think about.
posted by Ynoxas at 9:26 AM on May 23, 2008


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