A court in Amsterdam has ruled that the tube website xHamster must obtain explicit consent from all amateur models in the Netherlands who are featured in videos on the site. If other countries follow suit, the amateur platform’s business model is likely to be shaken.
The Cyprus-based site was given a three-week deadline to remove all videos featuring amateur footage of people living in the Netherlands unless it can prove that those people gave their explicit consent. Amateur footage of people not living in the Netherlands must be made inaccessible in the Netherlands within the same period, unless explicit permission can be proven.
The Amsterdam District Court made the ruling following an appeal by the local non-profit Expert Office for Online Child Abuse (EOKM). The ruling sets a precedent for platforms based outside the Netherlands whose content can be accessed via the Internet.
According to the Dutch court, xHamster »may only continue to publish non-professional nude images if it has the permission of all persons appearing in the picture.« EOKM greeted the ruling a »victory for the rights and privacy of victims whose nude images were published without demonstrable consent.«
EOKM Director Arda Gerkens said, »I am pleased that the court has confirmed once again that this type of amateur footage cannot simply be placed online. The distribution of nude images in this way must be stopped, and all porn sites play a role in that.«
EOKM lawyer Hanna van Til added, »After this ruling, xHamster and other operators can no longer look the other way.« Otto Volgant, a colleague of van Til at EOKM is convinced the ruiling presents »a historic judgment with major consequences for the entire porn industry” and called on the porn industry to regulate itself and stop offering videos online without granted consent from those involved.«
At first glance, the ruling seems invariably positive for contributors to pornographic productions. However, it can have serious consequences for freedom of expression and self-development. After all, all participants must now use their clear names to identify themselves and hence make themselves vulnerable to platforms whose data processing may not always be secure. Outing oneself to platforms introduces the difficulty that people may prefer not to publish for fear of data leaks or face the risk of being doxxed.
As a result, many industry observers think that the ruling could also be, at its core, a further undermining of free expression and another step forward in the destruction of the free Internet.