ATLANTA -- She was on the cover of a DVD called "College Girls Exposed," with a topless picture taken of her when she was14 years old.Across her chest was the message, "Get educated."
Now 26, Cartersville resident Lindsay Bullard is suing the producers of the video for improperly using her image to promote their DVD.
The Georgia Supreme Court will now determine whether or not that case will see a jury. The court heard oral arguments Monday after a judge in the case asked them to settle several issues that are not clear under current Georgia law. Can a minor consent to a crime? Did she forfeit her right to privacy because she was on a public street? Should the case even be tried in Georgia?
The video was shot in 2000 while Bullard was on Spring Break in Panama City Beach, Florida. She was walking on a public street when she was approached by a man with a camera. After she showed her breasts to him, the cameraman sold the footage to the makers of the popular pornographic Girls Gone Wild video series.
Bullard sued in 2004, saying the distribution of the video ruined her life. She had to change schools and undergo continuous bullying from people who had seen or heard of the video. By law she can't sue for damages for something she did, but she may be able to sue the production company for distributing the film with her image on the cover.
"I think what they did is disgusting," said Jeff Banks, Bullard's attorney. "And we'll take our win any way we can get it. If that's the technicality we have to hang our hat on, we'll take it."
Banks said a jury would understand the larger picture if they're allowed to get the case.
J. Scott Carr, the video company's attorney, said it's a free speech issue, and Girls Gone Wild is an expressive work protected by the first amendment. When Bullard consented to the filming on a public street, she consented to whatever came as a result of it. He doesn't think "Get educated" on her chest was an implicit endorsement of the film.
"I think that's a stretch, to put [a half-naked woman] on the cover you would have to cover it up in some way," Carr said. "And the mere fact that it says 'Get educated' doesn't suggest that she said anything that's not attributed to her at all."
Both sides answered several direct questions from different justices during the proceedings. The court will have six months to issue their opinion on whether the case should move forward.