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Hepp v. Facebook

3rd Circuit

September 23, 2021

Appellant Karen Hepp hosts FOX 29’s Good Day Philadelphia. Hepp sued Facebook, Reddit, and Imgur. She alleged each defendant violated her right of publicity under Pennsylvania law. Hepp’s allegations centered on two sets of posts featuring her photograph taken without her consent. The first post—which was an advertisement for a dating app—appeared on Facebook. The ad used Hepp’s image to promote its dating service. Second, a Reddit thread linked to an Imgur post of the photo. The complaint alleged two state-law claims: one for violating Pennsylvania’s right of publicity statute and the other for violating its common law. The companies moved to dismiss. The District Court dismissed Hepp’s case with prejudice, holding all three companies were entitled to § 230 immunity. Hepp appealed. And Imgur and Reddit filed a joint cross-appeal to challenge personal jurisdiction. The Third Circuit ruled that the District Court lacked personal jurisdiction over Reddit and Imgur. The Court found that the companies’ alleged contacts with the forum did not relate to misappropriation, and the alleged misappropriation does not relate to any of the contacts. The Court then held that § 230(e)(2) placed Hepp’s claims outside § 230(c) ’s reach because they arose under state law pertaining to intellectual property.

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