Maryann Sahoury thought she was contributing to an educational video on breastfeeding only to learn, months later, that someone apparently stole the footage added it to a pornographic video that was attracting thousands of hits on YouTube and elsewhere.
“It was terrifying,” said Sahoury, 35, who said she had seen an opportunity to help women who had trouble getting their babies to nurse.
Sahoury worries that the stigma of being associated with Internet pornography will shadow both her and her daughter — referred to in legal documents as A.S. — for the rest of their lives.
“A.S. is not even two (2) years old. She will be faced with continuing damage as she engages in elementary school, middle school, high school and then college. This may haunt her for years to come because what has occurred can never entirely be removed from the Internet,” according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court against Meredith Corp., the Iowa-based media and marketing giant that filmed Sahoury and her daughter.
Sahoury has sued Meredith Corp. for fraud, misrepresentation and negligence in connection with a video that Meredith said was stolen from its website and misused. In an opinion issued last week, a federal judge wrote that Sahoury’s lawsuit could move forward despite Meredith Corp.’s argument that a release form signed by Sahoury allowed Meredith to use her and her daughter’s names, and freed Meredith from “any and all claims.”
Shorlty after her daughter was born on Dec. 9, 2009, Sahoury was recruited to be a part of a breastfeeding educational video by her lactation consultant, who had been engaged by Parent TV, a Meredith Corp. brand.
After taping was completed and Sahoury was about to leave, the woman in charge asked her to sign a release, according to the complaint. Sahoury has conceded that she signed the release without reviewing it. In her complaint, Sahoury claims that she believed the release simply confirmed what she was told the morning before shooting began.
In July 2010, Sahoury, a former public relations company employee, did a Google search of her name and was mortified by what she found: multiple links to a video that combined the footage of her breastfeeding her daughter with pornographic footage of a woman who looked like Sahoury.
In a statement, Meredith said it is “appalled” that the video was misused and it has hired lawyers to file take-down demands and internet specialists to clear online caches.