Dustin Lance Black is suing his ex, his ex's ex and Starzlife for the leaking and publishing of those bareback sex photos that embarrassed him earlier this year and Bilerico Project thinks he's making a huge PR mistake in doing so. I like Bilerico, but I think they're making a huge assumption in focusing on only the PR angle. Are gay people supposed to be so devoid of personal boundaries that we're not allowed to be humiliated when private, sexually explicit images of ourselves get out completely unintentionally? (Unlike other high-profile cases, this was obviously a case where Black never dreamed the images would leak. You can argue that anytime images exist there is that possibility, but that has nothing to do with the legal aspects—that is a sympathy question.)
Below is my comment for Bilerico because it wouldn't post and I'm working remotely, so sorry for any styling weirdness. And again, I don't legally fault any secondary blogs or news media that trafficked in the images because in my opinion once they were leaked they had a news quality to them, though I personally would have felt bad republishing them unexpurgated because, again, these were not posted by him on the 'Net on Manhunt, they were clearly stolen:
To Bilerico: Love your site, but I disagree with your arguments. The main reason is that your entire argument is based on PR (you sound like Howard Bragman!), when in reality I believe the lawsuit is based on privacy and potentially copyright. The money is clearly (as is the case in many lawsuits) a punitive measure to hammer home a point about an alleged abuse of the law. I didn't have a problem with various sites referring to and linking the images because once they were leaked, they were a viable news story—not just because he's a noteworthy man with a brain who nevertheless did something silly by letting himself be photographed nude and en flagrante, but because he was a safe-sex advocate who potentially (details of when the images were taken were sketchy) did not practice what he preached. However, the person who leaked them and the site that put them up with a profit incentive are, in my opinion, both dirty in this and both should be forced to pay; or, at the very least, there are legit legal issues that should be addressed in a court of law and not hashed out on the blogs. Already the concept of private sex photos of the stars being leaked should blow everyone's minds...the act of leaking images with no model release that were not taken in public and that in some cases were not even taken by (and therefore are not even copyrighted by) the leaker seems an obvious breach of the law, and yet nobody ever does anything about it. Why? Because in most cases, they are stars and they have publicists telling them all the things Bilerico is arguing here, all focusing on PROFIT and CAREER-ENHANCEMENT incentives. But no one should have to accept that their nudie pix = liberation and a sexier image even if it's true, because this is a personal feeling. And he's not Pamela Anderson, he's Dustin Lance Black, so I would argue while it makes him more of a sex symbol...so what??? Why does he need that as a respected writer? Could he not argue it actually takes away from his other accomplishments? Or if he benefits from sexing up his image, maybe it's enough to pose for artsy sexy shots like the one that illustrates this article rather than having his impaled ass as everyone's screensaver. I think he's doing something that few celebrities ever do, which is file a carefully considered lawsuit to protect his rights and to protect the rights of others. Perhaps people won't be so fast to leak when they realize millions of dollars are at stake. If fewer leaks happen, perhaps the ones that do happen will be genuinely newsworthy instead of just salacious.