Photos of Emma Watson, Amanda Seyfried and other celebrities have been leaked online, prompting widespread outrage at the gross invasion of their privacy, along with the usual cheers among the internet's more salacious denizens. In Watson's case, her best bet at having the images removed could be her stylist.
Claims of copyright infringement under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act are often levelled at websites and search engines that host stolen images or pirated videos. Amanda Seyfried's lawyer has already accused one website of infringing the Mamma Mia star's copyright, backed up with claims of wrongful conduct and violating her privacy.
Watson, who is pursuing unspecified legal action, could struggle to make the same claim. Websites are legally obligated to remove images, videos and other media if they receive a 'valid' copyright notice. But if the person who makes the removal request didn't take the photo, it may be ignored. For example, a porn website refused a request from Jennifer Lawrence's attorney to take down nude photos of the actress, as they weren't selfies and someone else probably took them.
In Watson's case, the stolen photos were snapped during a clothes fitting with a stylist a couple of years ago. As all the confirmed photos appear to be from that session, it seems more than likely that the stylist took them. That may have saved Watson the greater indignity of having more intimate photos published (semi-nude images online don't show her face and may not be genuine). But it probably means she will have to track down her stylist - the copyright holder - to successfully claim infringement. Seyfried could face similar problems, as several of the leaked photos appear to have been taken by her ex-boyfriend, Justin Long.
The masterminds behind the leak certainly have a sense of timing. They released the photos on the anniversary of Ryan Collins being sentenced to 18 months in prison for hacking Apple and Google accounts belonging to Lawrence and other celebrities. It's also days before the UK release of Beauty and the Beast; their aim could be to disrupt the film's final marketing push or divert attention away from Watson's starring turn as Belle. However, the leak could also galvanise more people to watch the film in solidarity with its aggrieved star.