Porn Sex Trafficking Victims Now Own Their Videos


Photo: INA FASSBENDER/AFP (Getty Images)

Hundreds of people forced into sexual acts by GirlsDoPorn and GirlsDoToys now have full rights to their videos, a federal judge ruled Wednesday. Considering that revenge porn distributors have historically evaded penalty due to insufficient legal guidelines, copyright is a useful tool – copyright holders can fine websites up to $150,000 per image if they fail to comply with DMCA takedown requests.

From 2013 to 2019, the sex trafficking operation convinced victims to create one-off adult videos, lying that their footage would only be sold to private collectors abroad and not posted online. They then posted the videos on the GirlsDoPorn and GirlsDoToy websites, which presented themselves as adult consensual amateur sites.

The videos kept up with repeated re-uploads to other tube sites like PornHub, a problem that has plagued anyone who has had to have their videos removed in the past. In October 50 victims of GirlsDoPorn and GirlsDoToys won a settlement with MindGeek, owner of the PornHub and tube site empire; the terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Victims said in file lawsuits that GirlsDoPorn and GirlsDoToys got them into conversation by posing as a modeling agency in Craigslist ads, linking to fake sites, and offering modeling gigs in cities across the US and Canada. They ended up offering thousands of dollars to make adult videos and put potential victims in touch with fake artists who convinced them they enjoyed the experience, according to the lawsuit.

The company executives flew the victims to San Diego, according to the files, and chased them with constant text messages and emails if they changed their mind. Some victims said the traffickers criticized their appearance as a justification for lowering their wages and saddled them with drugs and alcohol. According to the Justice Department, they threatened to sue, cancel flights, or post the videos online if the victims didn’t go through the entire shoot. They lied that recordings would last 30 minutes when in fact they lasted hours and blocked the exit with camera equipment, the DOJ said.

In addition to granting rights to the videos, a federal judge ruled that GirlsDoPorn and GirlsDoToys must return them and that all fraudulent “model agreements” are void. The statement is part of a return order against one of the leaders, artist Ruben Andre Garcia, who was convicted to 20 years in prison earlier this year after pleading guilty to human trafficking through violence, fraud and coercion. Garcia has also been ordered to pay victims $18 million. Michael James Pratt, identified by law enforcement as “the leader,” remains at large, but his trial will begin in June 2022. The FBI is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.


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