Chelsea Chaney, a freshman at the University of Georgia, is suing the Fayetteville County School district after the school district using a photo of her in a swimsuit in front of a cardboard cutout of hip-hop star Snoop Dogg with the caption "Once it's there, it's there to stay." The photo, which was taken while Chaney was on family vacation when she was 17 years old, was taken off of her personal Facebook page.
She assumed only friends and acquaintances would see it.
"I was embarrassed. I was horrified," said Chaney to TV station WSB-TV in Atlanta. "It never crossed my mind that this would ever, ever happen to me."
The photo was used by the Fayetteville County Schools for its seminar that teaches both parents and students about the dangers of social media and posting pictures on such sites like Facebook. The school district apologized to Chelsea and her family and claims that the picture was "randomly chosen" but would not say from where. Chaney did not accept their apology.
"I don't think it was random," she said. "It wasn't my main picture. You had to go looking through it.
The family hired attorney Peter Wellborn after Chaney and her family attempted to find a solution with the school district. According to the Chaney family, they felt as if their complaint were not taken seriously by the Fayetteville School District so they were forced to hire an attorney.
Wellborn proceeded to file a $2 million lawsuit against the school district. He claims that when people post photos on social media sites, they do not give up their rights to the photos and therefore not just anyone can use them. He is accusing the district of violating Chaney's constitutional rights and of violating state and federal law.
"Their idea that putting something on Facebook gives them a license to steal it and carte blanche to do with it what they did is wrong ethically, it's wrong morally and it's absolutely wrong legally," Wellborn said.
Wellborn also added that the district used Chaney's photo to "suggest that Chelsea is a promiscuous, abuser of alcohol."
A school district spokesman refused comment on the grounds that litigation is ongoing but according to WSB-TV, the district has filed a motion to have the case dismissed.