When a photo is put on the internet, we all know how easy it is for that photo to be taken and used in a variety of ways - many ways that aren't compatible with the original intent of the poster. The parents of one fallen U.S. soldier know this all too well.
They have filed lawsuits against two online dating sites: PlentyofFish.com and True.com for using their son's photo to advertise their dating services.
Lt. Peter Burks was killed in 2007 in Iraq. The Bronze Star recipient was returning from a mission in Baghdad when a roadside bomb exploded under his vehicle. Four years later, one of Lt. Burks' friends was apparently browsing PlentyofFish.com when he saw the Lieutenant's photo in a pop-up ad that read "Military Man Searching fo Love." He said the photo in the ad was taken just a few days before he was killed. According to Burks' parents, the photo was one of their son that is featured on his memorial site.
Click on that pop-up led you to True.com.
"These websites are using the photo of a fallen hero simply as a means to make money and that's just plain wrong," says attorney Rogge Dunn of Dallas' Clouse Dunn LLP, who represents Lt. Burks' parents. "This has caused a great deal of pain to those who loved Peter – his family and fiancee – and has reopened old wounds."
This story is reminiscent of another incident involving photos being used for nefarious purposes. Earlier this month, high school girls from a Boston Vocational school learned that their Facebook photos were being used on various porn sites. In that case, it was unclear as to what prosecutors could do - the sites were outside of U.S. jurisdiction plus there's the whole thing about Facebook photos not really belonging to the users once they post them.
In this situation, Alan Burks says he "just wants these companies to admit what they did is wrong and to stop doing it."
They've said that any money received from the lawsuits will go to support the troops.