MaryAnn Sahoury of New Jersey has filed suit against an Iowa production company after an instructional breast-feeding video she appeared in was taken by a third party and used to create pornography.
A federal court judge ruled last week that MaryAnn Sahoury's lawsuit against the Meredith Corp. could proceed, the Associated Press reports.
Sahoury reportedly agreed to demonstrate breast-feeding techniques with her month-old daughter in a video for Parents TV, which broadcasts original videos on parenting.
After the video ended up in the wrong hands, the 35-year-old mother decided to take legal action. "I didn't get paid to do this. I didn't want to be some sort of celebrity," Sahoury told the AP. "I did this to help other moms."
Sahoury, who at one point had had trouble breast-feeding, claims she was told by a producer that only first names would be used in the video, according to AP.
Bu when filming on the set had wrapped, Sahoury was asked to sign a piece of paper. While juggling her daughter and assuming other tasks, she signed it without even reading.
Just months later when Sahoury Googled herself, she was shocked when she found numerous links to pornographic sites and videos containing her name.
One of the sites she clicked linked to a breast-feeding video with a woman of "similar features and stature" performing sex acts, according to the lawsuit obtained by AP. Sahoury then Googled her infant daughter's name, which also returned links to pornographic sites and videos.
"It was terrifying," Sahoury said. "It was like I can't even control my life and it was spiraling out of control."
The lawsuit filed by Sahoury alleges that Sahoury's full name was used in the video. Her lawsuit also claims the video was placed on YouTube, when Sahoury was told it would appear only on Parents TV and cable television. The mother is seeking an order prohibiting the defendants from using the video featuring her and her daughter for any purpose; it also seeks attorney fees, AP reports.
The suit also states the Des Moines, Iowa-based company initially worked to help find the person believed to be responsible for the video and remove it from the Internet, but the help waned. Sahoury said videos kept popping up even after they were taken down.
Meredith Corp. released a statement saying that it's "appalled" that the video was misused. It goes on to state that it hired lawyers to file take-down demands and Internet specialists to clear online caches and continues the "good-faith efforts."
"We have taken these actions even though Ms. Sahoury signed a full release for herself and her daughter," the statement said.
Sahoury said she hopes the lawsuit leads to greater Internet protections.
"I never want this to happen again," she said.