TV Anchor Sues Social Media Over Illicit Use of Security Photo

(CN) – A Philadelphia news anchor says a photograph of her has been used without her permission to promote online dating websites and erectile dysfunction products – and she’s suing Facebook, Reddit and several other online hosts for $10 million.

Fox 29 anchor Karen Hepp says two years ago she learned a photo of her taken by a security camera in a New York convenience store without her consent was being used in online ads for erectile dysfunction products and other websites, according to her federal lawsuit filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Wednesday.

The photo has been uploaded and hosted on numerous sites, including the photo-sharing site Imgur, which has it tagged as “milf” – a “derogatory slang acronym that refers to a sexually attractive woman with young children,” Hepp says in her complaint.

A link to the photo also appears on the online community forum Reddit, in a subforum for people who prefer more mature women. Additionally, there is an animated version of the image featuring a man in the background performing a lewd act, according to the complaint.

The photo also appears at a pornography website owned by Czech Republic-based WCGZ S.R.O. according to Hepp.

Hepp says she’s spent years a professional TV broadcaster and is “well regarded in the Philadelphia community and has earned an excellent reputation as a moral and upstanding community leader and public person.”

She adds her image has “high intrinsic commercial value” and the online advertisers have appropriated her likeness for commercial purposes without her consent. She says sexualization and use of her image “for prurient and illicit purposes is abhorrent and disgusting.”

Hepp wants a judge to order the removal of all images from the respective websites. She also seeks an accounting of all revenue generated from the use of her image. She is represented by Samuel Fineman of Cohen Fineman in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

A Reddit spokesperson declined to comment on Hepp’s lawsuit. Emails to Facebook and co-defendant Giphy seeking comment were not immediately answered. An email to the law firm that previously represented WCGZ S.R.O. was not answered by press time.

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