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Platforms such as OnlyFans allow content creators, including those working in the adult space, to post content and earn money from fans. Others prefer to go it alone with their own subscription-based services but inevitably some consumers prefer to get that content for free, via illegal uploads to sites like Reddit. That, however, is not without legal risk.
The growth of the Internet has enabled millions of content creators to more directly address their fans. Platforms such as YouTube, for example, create a more personal fan experience but content of a more risqué nature is better placed elsewhere.
Founded in 2012, OnlyFans is a subscription content platform based in the UK. Content creators using the service can earn money from subscribing fans, who pay for content on an ongoing basis and may also contribute valuable additional tips. Importantly (and unlike YouTube), OnlyFans doesn’t shy away from adult-orientated content such as more explicit photographs and videos.
Of course, any content that can be uploaded to OnlyFans can be re-uploaded elsewhere without the creator’s permission. It’s the same type of piracy experienced by almost every player in the multimedia space but due to the small filesizes in content such as pictures, pirated content is very easily spread. The question is what to do about that, if anything.
Uploading to Social Media
Since many people sharing OnlyFans content do so fairly casually, social media platforms such as Reddit are an easy option. The site accepts image uploads and there are large quantities of sub-Reddits dedicated to specific content creators, who are also trying to sell their work on OnlyFans.
While this exposure may help sales in some instances, when dozens of photographs are uploaded for free, there’s less of an incentive for people to subscribe. Also, since legal action against unlicensed uploaders is not commonplace, there’s little incentive for people to stop pirating either. This week, however, TF spotted a couple of actions filed in a US court that may give some pirates pause for thought.
DMCA Subpoena Filed in California Against Reddit
On March 9, 2020, lawyer Jason Fischer sent a DMCA takedown notice to Reddit, informing the platform that his client, adult performer Natasha Noel (NSFW), is the copyright owner of various photographs and video content published through her OnlyFans account and other social media platforms.
According to the notice, dozens of these items were uploaded to Reddit illegally and as a result, Reddit should take the content down. While that is nothing out of the ordinary, it appears that Noel and her lawyer want to take things further.
On March 23, 2020, Fischer filed a DMCA subpoena application on Noel’s behalf in a California district court, listing the same set of URLs detailed in the Reddit DMCA takedown notice. This time around, however, the lawyer was seeking more than just content removal.
“This law firm has the privilege of representing Natasha Noel, owner of the copyrights in and to certain materials that been infringed through use of the online services provided by Reddit, INC,” the document reads.
“Pursuant to the DMCA, we respectfully request that you execute the enclosed subpoena directing Reddit’s records custodian to disclose users’ identities.”
The information requested is described as “any and all information” in Reddit’s possession pertaining to the identity of the “individuals who posted the images and content previously appearing [at the URLs in the DMCA takedown notice].”
For the sake of clarity, Fischer then lists everything he expects Reddit to hand over, including usernames, account names, users’ actual names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, IP addresses (including dates and times of access), and all billing information.
What Fischer and Noel intend to do with this information isn’t clear but having gone this far, it seems likely that some kind of legal action or pressure will follow. Identifying a leaker will be useful in its own right but deterring further leaks among Noel’s community of fans might prove more valuable.
Second DMCA Subpoena Filed Against Reddit
On the same day, Fischer filed another DMCA subpoena application, again against Reddit, this time on behalf of model and MMA fighter Valerie Loureda. Unlike Noel, Loureda does not sell her content on OnlyFans but goes direct to her audience via her new website loveloureda.com.
Ordinarily, fans would need to pay $9.99 to see Loureda’s glamour shots but visitors to Reddit’s /r/Valoureda have been getting that content for free – until the sub-Reddit was banned for generating “excessive copyright removals.”
Precisely when the sub-Reddit was banned isn’t clear but Fischer sent DMCA notices containing dozens of infringing URLs on March 20 and March 22. In common with the DMCA subpoena filed on behalf of Noel, he is now seeking to identify in detail the Reddit users who uploaded the content, including their email and IP addresses.
Again, it’s unclear what Fischer and his client intend to do with the information but having put in some effort, it’s unlikely to end particularly well for any uploaders who Reddit is available to identify.
TorrentFreak contacted Jason Fischer for additional information, including whether he’s representing other independent content creators and details of his plan for the uploaders, but at the time of writing we were yet to receive a response.
The DMCA subpoena applications and supporting documents can be found here (1,2,3)
Many thanks to TorrentFreak for the breaking news.