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Social Media Cos. Move to Dismiss News Anchor’s Lawsuit

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Four tech companies sued for distribution of a photo without consent filed separate motions to dismiss the case this week.  Karen Hepp, represented by Cohen Fineman, sued Facebook, Imgur, Reddit, and Giphy for their part distributing a sexualized photo of her in posts and advertisements. 

Facebook is represented by Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, Imgur is represented by Michael D. Lipuma, Reddit is represented by Durie Tangri, and Giphy is represented by Boies Schiller and Flexner.

Hepp, a television reporter at FOX 29 News and co-anchor of “Good Day Philadelphia,”  filed the complaint in September of 2019 claiming she had “suffered irreparable harm from the unlawful dissemination and publication of her image on various commercial websites.” She said she was unaware that her photo, taken by a convenience store security camera, was being used in online advertisements.

The complaint argues that she is a well-regarded public figure and her image has “high intrinsic commercial value.” It also says “Defendant’s sexualization of Plaintiff’s image and use for prurient and illicit purposes is abhorrent and disgusting.” She requested the photo and any related images are taken down and she is given any related revenue and monetary relief.

Facebook, in its Memorandum for the Motion to Dismiss, said the plaintiff did not claim they created or authored the First Met dating app advertisement which included her picture and say her claims are “misdirected and based on untenable legal theories.” Facebook claims they are not liable for hosting third-party content and did not have actual knowledge that her photo was being used. 

Common claims by the tech companies, included in Memorandums filed by Giphy, Imgur and Reddit, argue that the complaint should be dismissed because the court lacks personal jurisdiction. They also claim the case “fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.” They said her claims are “barred by the applicable statute of limitations,” because the statute of limitations does not restart if a party links to material that was previously accessible.

A pretrial conference is scheduled in the case for April 28, 2020.

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