California is one of 36 states have some laws that penalize the nonconsensual distribution of intimate images. They include laws against criminal invasion of privacy, voyeurism, impersonation or fraud, harassment and stalking. Federal copyright laws can also provide a cause of action for damages if the pictures that were published without permission were registered by the owner.
The $6.4 million dollar judgment obtained in a federal court in California against a former boyfriend included $450,000 in copyright infringement; $3 million in emotional damages, and $3 million for other damages including stalking and online impersonation. The defendant had not only published sexually explicit pictures of the plaintiff to pornography websites, but also impersonated her in online dating forums. The judgment is believed to be one of the largest ever for so-called revenge porn.