402 women who were duped into recording explicit videos for distribution on the now-defunct GirlsDoPorn website have been legally recognized as the owners of the videos.

On 17 December 2021, a judge in San Diego granted the women orders of restitution with regard to the videos, paving the way for them to issue takedown orders to sites still hosting the videos. Ruben Andre Garcia, a porn actor and producer for the site who is currently incarcerated, was ordered to pay the women a total of $18 million in restitution.

Garcia was given a 20-year jail sentence in June 2021, following the US Department of Justice investigating GirlsDoPorn for sex trafficking.

The order came after it was found that bosses at GirlsDoPorn bosses lied to the women about where their porn content would appear. Videos were uploaded to GirlsDoPorn after some of the women were told that they would only be distributed outside the US, or among private collectors.

Michael James Pratt, the site’s owner, is a fugitive. He is being pursued by the FBI, which has placed him on the agency’s ‘Most Wanted’ list and says he was the ringleader of the site’s alleged misdemeanours.

GirlsDoPorn, which was taken offline in 2020, supplied porn videos to other porn sites such as Pornhub, where they were widely available to the public. With the 402 women who were coerced into making GirlsDoPorn videos having their video ownership recognized by a judge, they can now issue takedown orders to any sites still hosting them, citing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Some of the women said they were pressured into performing sex acts on camera for the videos, the true nature of which they were lied to about.

According to BBC News, Southern California district acting US attorney Randy Grossman said that “this is an extremely important ruling that returns power to the victims by giving them control of the images and videos that caused them so much pain and suffering.”

“We hope this helps the victims close a difficult chapter in their lives,” he added.

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