11/13/2014 09:35 am ET Updated Nov 13, 2014

What The Law Can (and Can't) Do About Online Harassment

Cultura RM/Gu via Getty Images

Citron can only think of three or four reported cases in America, where victims have successfully been awarded a monetary judgment against their online harassers. A public court case can also bring unwanted attention to the situation. Citron cites the case of a woman from Hawaii who wanted to sue the person who posted her nude photos online, but sought permission to do so as “Jane Doe” so her reputation wouldn’t be further maligned. She was denied by the court, in a decision that demonstrates the “practical limits” of tort law for stopping online abuse, said Citron.

Where victims have had a modicum more success in the civil sphere, is by threatening to sue, or even actually suing, for copyright violation if a website is displaying photos that were originally taken by the victim. Since copyright forms upon the creation of a work, generally it’s the photographer who holds the right to the image. Self-taken photos—nude or not—are owned by the photographer unless otherwise assigned, so a website displaying those photos without consent is violating copyright.

Read more on The Atlantic