California Senate Votes to Expand Definition of Illegal Sex Tape

Some 'selfies' might now qualify
Courtesy of Sony Pictures

California lawmakers have unanimously passed an amendment to the state's "revenge porn" law.

According to State Senator Anthony Cannella, who sponsored the legislation, the modified law would include a "selfie," but further explanation seems to be order.

SB1255 makes it a crime to intentionally distribute images of another identifiable person's intimate body parts. Now, it doesn't matter who takes the image. The key issue is only whether there's an agreement or understanding "the image shall remain private, the person distributing the image knows or should know that distribution of the image will cause serious emotional distress, and the person depicted suffers that distress."

That's a change from an earlier draft of the legislation that placed the emphasis on the "consent of the depicted."

If the bill is signed by California governor Jerry Brown, agreeing to be filmed in the nude might no longer be susceptible to any argument of implied consent. That could come as relief to the many celebrities who thought it would be a good idea to do a sex tape only to have second thoughts upon later distribution. Celebrity sex tapes might not have been a consideration to the lawmakers who voted on expanding the "revenge porn" law, but it could be a byproduct of changes.

The law could gather First Amendment scrutiny from the courts. For now, the bill attempts to carve out exceptions including distribution in the course of reporting an unlawful activity.

Twitter: @eriqgardner