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‘Erin Brockovich’ of revenge porn applauds California’s charge

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(CNN) – A crusader against revenge porn websites, Charotte Laws has been called the Erin Brockovich of the movement, seeking to criminalize the activity. She is also a mother, who began pushing for federal laws and punishments for copyright violations against revenge porn sites after her daughter became a victim.

“My daughter had taken some photos in the mirror, alone in her room, and sent them from her cell phone, to her e-mail, to her computer, and then she was hacked three months later,” said Laws. “Nine days after that, her topless photo ended up on a revenge porn website.”

Revenge porn is sexually explicit material, primarily of women, usually posted by angry former boyfriends and ex-husbands to websites.

It took a relentless campaign to get the pictures removed. The Laws’ served the website operator with a Digital Millennium Copyright Act notice, or a take down notice, but he did not want to comply. The mother says she had to go through several “maneuvers” to get the photo taken down. She also reached out to other victims to try and help them get their images removed from the site. The ordeal spurred her to take up the cause.

“These website operators tend to not be afraid of civil law, they’re are afraid of law enforcement. And that’s why criminal laws are so important to put them in place,” said Laws.

With civil law, most of the website operators don’t have assets, and are not afraid that victims will sue, says Laws. A lawsuit can cost victims $60,000, and they probably would not get any money on the other end of the deal.

Earlier this week, a California man was arrested and accused of running a “revenge porn” website and demanding money through another site to remove the sexually explicit material. The state passed a law making revenge porn illegal earlier this year. Laws call the move encouraging.

“I’m so happy that law enforcement is taking this seriously. It sends a message to these other website owners and to those who may submit photos of victims,” said Laws.

The founder of the revenge porn website Laws targeted, Hunter Moore, was asked last year if he feels bad about what he does.

“To me, I don’t know these people and it’s kind of anonymous to me. I think the people submitting it are the ones who should be, you know, feeling bad when they click that submit button,” Hunter told ABC News.

“He is just as guilty as those who submitted photos. What Hunter Moore wants to do is hide behind the Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which is the biggest barrier right now to holding the website operators responsible,” said Laws.

“That’s why a federal law is needed, because there’s no state law that is going to be able to trump the Communications Decency Act,” said Laws.

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