AUGUSTA — A bill that would criminalize revenge porn in Maine received a boost Wednesday that could put the proposal on the fast-track to passage.

The Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted to approve an amended version of the bill, L.D. 679, a bill that would make it a Class D crime to post revenge porn, or the non-consensual dissemination of private sexual images. The practice has increased in profile in Maine and nationally and activated advocates of domestic violence victims, who have moved to outlaw what they describe as a modern tool for abusers’ attempting to control and intimidate current and former lovers or those who have rejected them.

More than a dozen states have adopted laws to criminalize the practice and some have made it a felony. The Maine bill would make publishing revenge porn punishable by up to a $2,000 fine and up to a year in jail.

All of the lawmakers on the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee endorsed the proposal Wednesday. However, several were absent and still have a chance to cast their votes. If attained, a unanimous endorsement increases the chances that a bill will receive the backing of the Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate when the bill is considered there.

Law enforcement and advocates for victims of domestic violence have backed the proposal, arguing that Maine victims have little legal remedy for a practice that has transformed abusers’ traditional control and intimidation practices by tailoring them to the digital age. The result, advocates contend, is an uptick in publicly shamed victims whose careers or entry into college are jeopardized.

The proposal has concerned the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine and the Motion Picture Association. Both organizations worried that the original bill was too broad and could chill expression protected by the First Amendment and theoretically lead to prosecution. The ACLU in Maine said the measure is identical to an Arizona bill that passed last year and is now the subject of a court challenge by the ACLU.

The ACLU has argued that the Arizona law could be applied to artistic images in books, art and news publications – and that proving consent can be difficult. In other states, questions have surfaced about whether the person in the images agreed at the time to be photographed or videotaped.

An amendment introduced Wednesday was designed to ease those concerns by adding language that says posting nude or sexual photos without the individual’s consent doesn’t serve a “public purpose.” The public purpose language is designed to protect news organizations, media and other organizations from being prosecuted.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Kenneth Fredette, R-Newport, the House minority leader, and has 48 bipartisan co-sponsors. The measure is one of at least a dozen proposed nationwide this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Since 2013, at least 13 states have enacted laws that ban revenge porn, which is also known as non-consensual pornography.

Fredette’s bill specifically targets those who intentionally display, distribute or share a photograph, videotape, film or digital recording of another person in a state of nudity or engaged in a sexual act without their consent. Supporters argued that existing state harassment and stalking laws don’t deter revenge porn because prosecution hinges on proving that the abuser has engaged in repeated harassment. Threatening to publish photos or videos, or doing so once, they argued, isn’t sufficient cause to prosecute under current Maine law.