MONTREAL – Pornhub owner MindGeek has settled a US lawsuit involving 50 women, including four Canadians, who alleged they were duped in a massive sex-trafficking campaign.

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Brian Holm, a California-based attorney representing the complainants in the lawsuit, confirmed to Granthshala News that the lawsuit has been settled.

“The parties reached a mutual settlement to settle the dispute and the terms are confidential,” Holm wrote in a statement, but declined to comment further.

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The lawsuit, filed in April 2021 in the US District Court for the Southern District of California, alleges porn provider GirlsdoPorn lied about how their sexually explicit videos would be used.

The lawsuit claims that in several cases women were told that their videos would be sold on DVD abroad, when in fact they were uploaded to the Internet without their consent.

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MindGeek, which is headquartered in Montreal, its flagship website Pornhub and credit card processing firm Probiller.com are all listed as defendants in the lawsuit.

MindGeek partnered with Girlsdoporn until October 2019, when it was shut down by the Justice Department after four of its principals were accused of sex trafficking and other charges. One of the four, Michael James Pratt, is at large and remains on the FBI’s most wanted list A reward of $50,000 for providing information leading to his arrest.

The lawsuit alleges that MindGeek amassed millions of dollars by partnering with GirlsdoPorn and sharing their videos on Pornhub and its affiliated porn websites over the years.

“MindGeek knew it had been partnering with a sex trafficking enterprise for years, distributing revenue and generating profits. MindGeek was also aware of significant harassment and trauma, resulting from the continued publication of videos of victims The victims of girlsdoporn were tolerating,” the lawsuit alleges.

According to the lawsuit, “MindGeek simply didn’t care and continued to partner with Girlsdoporn until it was no longer profitable.”

None of the charges in the trial were proved or tried in court.

A MindGeek spokesperson named Ian, whose full name and status were not disclosed, sent the following statement to Granthshala, and also indicated that the terms of the agreement are confidential.

“MindGeek has zero tolerance for posting illegal content on its platform, and has established a comprehensive, industry-leading trust and security policy to identify and eradicate any illegal content from our community. We are the most focused on internet security. Committed to staying ahead, and taking every measure to prevent bad actors from posting illegal content online,” the company statement read.

‘This company lied to me,’ plaintiff alleges

Several plaintiffs in the lawsuit requested Pornhub to remove their videos after realizing they were uploaded to the Internet.

One of four Canadian plaintiffs, identified as Jane Doe No. 36, wrote to Pornhub in January 2016 begging them to remove her video.

“That’s what I’m trying to explain that I didn’t consent to be online!!! :(((((Me and the other girls are being brutally harassed,” she wrote, according to the lawsuit.

“Jane Doe No.36 spoke with MindGeek a few days later advising the defendants that she and her boyfriend were in therapy due to the continued publication of the video.”

In another case, a US citizen identified as Jane Doe No. 11 sent at least three requests over a nine-month period to Pornhub for the removal of a video of her on Tube8.com, an affiliated website.

“I was duped. This company lied to me about being on the internet! They told me it would only be available on DVD in Australia. My work friends and family know all and that’s the link being sent. I want to just die,” the woman wrote in her request on May 31, 2017.

According to the lawsuit, MindGeek agreed to remove the video only after the headmasters of Girlsdoporn were arrested in October 2019.

Sue women claimed in response to modeling ads

The lawsuit sought millions of dollars in damages for each of the 50 plaintiffs.

Girlsdoporn has duped several young women into being part of a sex trafficking campaign by offering them large sums of money after responding to online ads for dressed modeling opportunities and “fraud” to force women to perform obscene acts. coercion and intimidation”. The lawsuit alleged.

MindGeek has been in the crosshairs of lawmakers and advocates against sexual abuse in recent years as calls grow for greater accountability for websites hosting non-consensual explicit videos and photos.

MindGeek announced last December that it would ban user-uploaded content in an effort to better control what visits its websites, including Pornhub – the eighth most popular website in the US.

The company has also been the subject of a House of Commons ethics committee study following a New York Times investigation into the Montreal-based venture. The committee recommended making online platforms liable for failing to ensure that the content is removed quickly, else they would face financial penalties.

In July, The federal government also proposed the creation of new powers. To block online platforms that repeatedly refuse to share non-consensual images and remove harmful content, including child abuse.