Amanda Seyfried Lawyers Up Over Leaked Photos; But Options Limited 1

Amanda Seyfried has hired a lawyer to block the spread of nude and explicit photos on the Internet. But her options may be limited. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Amanda Seyfried, Emma Watson and Mischa Barton are the latest celebrities to get caught up in a leak of private photos, or videos. All three have lawyered up to stop publication online, but depending on how the photos were obtained their options may be limited.

Comparisons have been drawn to the massive leak of private celebrity photos and videos three years ago involving more than 100 celebrities.

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But that situation involved theft of the material through a hacking attack on iCloud. Two individuals were eventually prosecuted and convicted.

In this case, the facts aren’t so clear.

Just because Seyfried is the subject of the photos does not mean she owns the copyrights or has a legal claim to block them from being published. The person who took the photos typically owns the copyright unless other arrangements were made.

Related: Jennifer Lawrence Nude Photos Flood Internet in New Hacker Leak

The photos also have to be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, clearly establishing legal ownership, before a claim can be made.

Watson is in a similar situation. She’s the subject of the photos, so she obviously did not take them. If the person who took the photos releases them online, there is little she can do about it.

At least 100 photos of the actress have gone viral showing her modeling dresses and bathing suits in a dressing room. The photos are at least two years old and none show her nude, a spokesperson said.

Amanda Seyfried Lawyers Up Over Leaked Photos; But Options Limited 2

Mischa Barton is battling the release of a sex tape allegedly being sold by an ex-boyfriend. (Photo by Mireya Acierto/Getty Images)

If the actresses can prove the photos were stolen from devices or released for commercial purposes, they may have legal grounds to block publication and even pursue those who leaked them.

Related: Nude Celebrity Hacking Scandal: Who’s Who, What the Photos Show

That’s what separates Batron’s claims from theirs. She claims a former boyfriend or boyfriends are attempting to sell sexually explicit videos of her for as much as $500,000.

But it’s clearly illegal to do so without permission and a legal release from anyone who appears in the video, becauase the videos are being used for commercial purposes.

Seyfried’s photos, at least those examined by IM, show her topless and performing oral sex on her boyfriend at the time, who has been identified as Justin Long.

She dated Long from 2013 to 2015. Seyfried began dating actor Thomas Sadoski last year. The became engaged last September and announced a month later that their first child is on the way.

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Seyfried has appeared nude in a number of films; Watson has never been photographed topless or nude.

Barton held a news conference in Los Angeles yesterday to announce that she is taking legal action to prevent the sale of the videos.

Amanda Seyfried Lawyers Up Over Leaked Photos; But Options Limited 3

Emma Watson has hired a lawyer to block publication of more than 100 photos of her in dresses and bathing suits. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/GettyImages)

She said she had obtained a restraining order, and that cease-and-desist letters had been sent to those believed to be trying to buy or sell the images.

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“I just want to say that I have been put through an incredibly hard and trying time,” she said.

“I came forward to fight this, not only for myself but for all the women out there,” she added. “I want to protect them from the pain and humiliation that I have had to go through.”

Police are also reportedly investigating her case.

Related: Emma Watson Dressing Room Photos Hacked, Posted Online; No Nudes

Some 33 states and the District of Columbia have passed statutes outlawing so-called “revenge porn,” involving ex-spouses or boyfriends who post or threaten to post photos or videos to humiliate or blackmail their former partners.

The practice has been described as a form of psychological abuse and domestic violence, as well as a form of sexual abuse, according to published reports.

Related: Kaley Cuoco Turns Tables on Nude Celebrity Hackers: See How (video)

Barton, 31, hit a rough patch this year that included a breakdown in public. neighbors complained that Barton was disruptive ‘to the point cops were called every few months, according to gossip site TMZ.

In the most recent incident, neighbors called 911 saying that Barton had threatened to kill herself and was screaming and ranting in her backyard. She said she’d been given the date rape drug GHB without her knowledge.

A neighbor filmed the incident and the video also went viral.