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Operator of Mug Shot Websites Must Face Suit

TAMPA, Fla. (CN) - A man who operates websites that publish the mug shots of recent Florida arrestees must face privacy-invasion and unfair-trade claims, a federal judge ruled.

Shannon Bilotta sued Citizens Information Associates and others for using her name and image on websites that publish booking photos and offer related services.

One defendant, Arthur D'Antonio, runs the websites and

Claiming that her name and image appeared on a website that D'Antonio uses for commercial purposes without her permission, Bilotta alleged common-law invasion of privacy and violations of Florida's right of publicity statute and Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

"The websites also contain a link for 'unpublishing services' to have the mug shot removed for a fee, and advertisements for other products and services," U.S. District Judge James Moody Jr. wrote.

Claiming that the First Amendment and the Communications Decency Act protects his publications, D'Antonio moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim.

Moody shot him down last week, noting that,"taken as true, these allegations are sufficient to state a cause of action for violation."

D'Antonio has 14 days to respond to Bilotta's complaint.

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