MindGeek class action lawsuit: "Our exploitation was Pornhub's profit."
March 10, 2021

The Class Action Lawsuit Against Pornhub and MindGeek, Explained

MindGeek, the shadowy corporate entity behind Pornhub and other exploitative sites, has been hit with a United States-based class action lawsuit brought by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation Law Center, and an accomplished assembly of survivor-focused and commercial litigation law firms, on behalf of survivors of child sex trafficking. Videos and images of these survivors—child sexual abuse material—were distributed via and monetized on multiple MindGeek products, including but not limited to Pornhub.

Pornhub has been the center of much controversy and has been implicated in many stories of abuse and exploitation—in addition to the ways it has consistently enabled, promoted, and profited from racist material, sexist material, and material featuring the abuse of LGBTQ+ individuals—over the years.

Here’s what you need to know about the U.S.-based class action lawsuit being brought forward by the NCOSE Law Center and co-counsel and how you can be a part of helping hold MindGeek and Pornhub accountable for facilitating myriad crimes of abuse and exploitation over the past two decades.

What happened to the plaintiffs who are suing MindGeek and Pornhub through this class action lawsuit?

As detailed in the filed complaint, Plaintiff Jane Doe #1 was just 16 years old when she was drugged and raped by an adult male. The child sexual abuse and rape of Jane Doe #1 was filmed. That same man entered into a profit-sharing relationship with MindGeek under its Modelhub program. Under the terms of that program, MindGeek and Jane Doe #1’s rapist agreed to share profits from views and downloads of Jane Doe #1’s victimization on MindGeek’s websites. MindGeek reviewed, categorized, tagged, and disseminated the images and videos depicting the rape and sexual exploitation of sixteen-year-old Jane Doe #1. One of the videos of Jane Doe #1 had been viewed over 2,400 times after MindGeek added it to its websites in early 2018.

At no time did MindGeek or Pornhub attempt to verify Jane Doe #1’s identity, age, inquire about her status as a victim of trafficking, or otherwise protect or warn against her traffickers before or while the video of her being drugged and raped was sold, downloaded, viewed and otherwise advertised on Pornhub.

When Plaintiff Jane Doe #2 was still a minor, a sex trafficker introduced her to individuals who produced sexually explicit videos. The trafficker forced Jane Doe #2 to participate in the creation of sexually explicit videos that included adults engaging in sex acts with her. She was never paid for her participation in the production of these videos. Videos of adults engaging in sex acts with Jane Doe #2 while she was a minor were uploaded and disseminated through websites owned, operated and/or controlled by MindGeek including, but not limited to, Pornhub and Redtube. Neither Pornhub nor any other website owned or operated by MindGeek undertook any measure to verify Jane Doe #2’s identity or age. As a result, child sex abuse material depicting Jane Doe #2 was distributed broadly throughout the world on MindGeek’s internet platforms.

The plaintiffs are suing MindGeek for financially benefiting from their abuse which is a violation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, among other laws.

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Why bring a class action lawsuit against MindGeek and Pornhub?

The lived experiences of the plaintiffs, as summarized above, are not isolated incidents. Neither are they incidental. For years, MindGeek has grown a multibillion-dollar pornography empire that was only made possible by a business model that is predicated on sexual harm.

The demand that the pornography industry supplies requires a product designed to feed depersonalized and dehumanized sexual appetites. Because there are not enough willing participants (“supply”) to make the product and satisfy the demand, MindGeek (and the modern pornography industry at large) resort to exploitative means—rape, abuse, trafficking, and more—for procuring the “supply” needed to feed the demand they want to monetize.

In MindGeek’s case, specifically, it uses sites like Pornhub to offer a product of “high interest” in the form of free videos—a high volume of which it obtains for free through the uploading of so-called “user-generated content” such as the child sexual abuse material of the plaintiffs in this lawsuit. MindGeek however, takes an active role in determining how this content ultimately appears on their site and then rakes in massive amounts of ad revenue (through an ad company MindGeek controls) from entities that pay them to target the huge flow of users that use its myriad sites—a figure pegged as being greater than online giants such as Netflix or Amazon.

TL;DR – The profit model MindGeek uses for Pornhub and its other “tube porn” sites is based on a steady flow of free material being provided by users so it can be monetized by MindGeek, which is why MindGeek implements no meaningful vetting process and thereby has distributed and facilitated myriad forms of sexual abuse and exploitation throughout the course of its existence. As such, a class action lawsuit is an opportunity for myriad survivors of MindGeek’s exploitation to seek a measure of justice. Through a class action procedure, the court can order MindGeek to implement large-scale changes, for example safety and accountability measures.

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What is the desired outcome of the class action lawsuit against MindGeek and Pornhub?

The plaintiffs are seeking accountability for and justice from MindGeek for knowingly profiting from the distribution of their childhood sexual abuse videos and images that were posted to Pornhub and other MindGeek-owned sites. And they hope to prevent this from happening to others.

Through civil litigation, survivors can stand up to these corporations, shine a light on their exploitive and tortious conduct, and get some measure of justice and relief in the form of monetary damages. It is clear that MindGeek financially benefitted from the trafficking and paid rape of these survivors when they were children. They must be held to account for that.

We know that the plaintiffs in this case are not the only people who have been victims of MindGeek. We hope others will join them in this class action lawsuit to fight for justice and to put an end to MindGeek’s exploitation empire once and for all.

Who is helping survivors bring this case against MindGeek and Pornhub? How can I ask questions and get more information about this case?

The legal team representing Jane Doe #1 and Jane Doe #2 consists of:

  • The Zarzaur Law Firm of Birmingham, Alabama;
  • Prince Glover Hayes of Tuscaloosa, Alabama;
  • Levin Papantonio Rafferty of Pensacola, Florida;
  • Laffey, Bucci & Kent, LLP, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;
  • Conrad O’Brien PC of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and
  • National Center on Sexual Exploitation Law Center of Washington, D.C.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation Law Center offers survivors of pornography-related abuse a way to seek justice. More information and ways to contact us—including in regards to possibly joining this class action lawsuit—can be found at SexualExploitationLawsuits.com.

How can I be a part of holding MindGeek and Pornhub accountable?

We are going to need a lot of support and resources to take on the multibillion-dollar international juggernaut that is MindGeek in court.

Whatever you are able to give today will make a powerful difference in our efforts to see MindGeek held legally and financially accountable for the countless instances of sexual abuse and exploitation that it has perpetrated over the years.

MindGeek Lawsuit: Were you exploited by Pornhub? Get connected with the NCOSE Law Center today.

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