Chelsea Chaney Sues Atlanta School Over Facebook Bikini Lesson

Monday, 24 Jun 2013 08:59 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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Chelsea Chaney, an Atlanta-area teen, is suing her school district after the Fayette County Schools director of technology allegedly pulled a photo of her in a bikini off Facebook as a lesson demonstrating the pitfalls of social media.

Chelsea Chaney, now a freshman at the University of Georgia, told WSB-TV that she was "embarrassed" and "horrified,"  she told WSB-TV, after she learned that her photo was part of district-wide seminar involving the technology director with other parents and students.

The photo showed Chaney in a red bikini with sunglasses on standing next to what appeared to be a cardboard cutout of the rapper Snoop Dog. Chaney is suing for $2 million, according to WSB-TV. The student, who as 17 at the time, said the photo was used without her or her parents' permission.

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"It never crossed my mind that this would ever, ever happen to me," Chelsea Chaney told the TV station. "I wish it was taken more seriously and gotten a more sincere apology."

In an apology letter Chaney told the TV station was from the administrator, WSB-TV reported the administrator's claimed that the photo was randomly selected. Chaney said she felt she was "bullied" by the incident and sued because "I don't want this to happen to any other student."

The school district declined to speak to WSB-TV, but according to the television station has filed a claim to dismiss the lawsuit.

"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," Chaney's attorney Pete Wellborn told WSB-TV. "(They) then used it out of context to suggest that Chelsea is a promiscuous, abuser of alcohol."

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Some social media commenters said Chaney is likely to face an uphill battle.

"She posted on her FB page to be seen on the internet," said a commenter on the New York Daily News. "If she was concerned about privacy, she should have read the privacy rules on the website when she entered into an agreement with FB to post her picture. Can't use copyright rules because the teacher probably felt the photo fell under the 'Free Use Doctrine.' "

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