Chances are good that you've seen Meagan Simmons' mugshot somewhere online, but she claims the viral photo was used without her permission and is now suing, claiming its distribution is an invasion of her privacy.
According to Florida's ABC 7 on Friday, Simmons alleges that the well-known mugshot has "disturbed her peace of mind, invaded her privacy and caused her mental anguish." The photo of Simmons, which was taken in 2010 after a DUI arrest, has been used in ads for the background check website InstantCheckmate and even spawned a meme believed to have spread early last year.
Simmons, a 28-year-old mother of four from Zephyrhills, Fla., filed a suit against InstantCheckmate.com in Hillsborough County Court that also claims she was not asked for permission to use her photo and did not receive any compensation. The suit seeks both monetary compensation and an injunction to prevent the mugshot from being used in the future.
"At the end of the day, this is actually about intellectual property," attorney Matthew Crist told The Tampa Bay Times about his client's case. "If someone is going to use your image, they need to pay you for it."
Crist also said that while the memes are "more for fun and enjoyment," InstantCheckmate.com is reaping financial benefits from using her photo.
In April 2013, Simmons talked about the widespread reaction to her photo to The Daily Mail, which reported she was both baffled and bemused by the comments she received on a photo, adding that she doesn't even think it's "that good a picture."
"I had just been crying when the photo was taken and I was drunk," she says. "I knew I'd caused a lot of trouble and my parents were really upset and I was really upset. I wasn't thinking about how I looked at all."