Most people are aware that upon entering a retail store, hotel or other public location, security cameras are likely recording their images. We accept this as a feature of modern life. We never expect these recorded images will be made public and used for commercial profit or social media mockery. A recent Third Circuit case considered the liability issues when an unauthorized security camera image goes viral on the Internet.
Karen Hepp is an experienced television journalist. She currently hosts the Good Day Philadelphia program on Philadelphia’s local FOX 29 station. In 2018 she went to a local convenience store where her photo was taken on the store’s security camera. Her smiling image should have been routinely erased from the bodega’s security system. However, Ms. Hepp was surprised to learn that the image from the store was circulating on the Internet. Her image first appeared in a promotional ad on Facebook for the dating site FirstMet. The photo later appeared on the entertainment site Imgur. That image was linked to another entertainment site, Reddit. Reddit is an online forum where users can comment and vote on images. The Reddit post resulted in unflattering and indecent commentary posted on the site. Finally, the image was found within Internet advertising for erectile dysfunction products. None of these uses were authorized and Ms. Hepp was not compensated for the use in the advertisements.