Lt. Peter Burks was a U.S. Army soldier serving in Iraq who was killed in 2007. At the time of his death, he was engaged to be married. Both facts help explain why a friend of Burks' was more than a little confused when he saw the soldier's photo included in an ad for dating service True.com (on other dating service PlentyOfFish.com) this past December, along with the text "Military Man Searching For Love." Another ad proclaimed, "Soldiers Want You!" It seems the picture, taken just says before Lt. Burks died, was nabbed from the website of the Unsung Hero Fund, a service his family set up in his memory that sends supplies to those stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. (You know what they say: if you're going to steal,
steal from the memorial of a man who died serving his country rethink that plan.)
Now, his parents are suing both sites for the use of the photo, which they claim benefited the companies financially while tarnishing Burks's memory and misleading the public. His father, who said any money won in the suit would go to military charities, didn't mince words:
"I felt horrified, disgusted. It upset me," Alan Burks, who lives in Dallas, told The Associated Press on Monday…
"For me, this is making sure that the honor and legacy of Peter is protected," he said. "But also it concerns me that they would use the likeness of a live soldier or someone else."
PlentyOfFish Media spokesman Paul Bloudoff maintains that the site — which hosts ads from hundreds of thousands of third-party clients without knowledge of the content — blocked the ads in question over a month ago, and the suit should never have been filed. True.com, on the other hand, basically pleaded extreme ignorance of both how the picture ended up in the ads and the lawsuit itself. Crazy a company that seems to really have it together could make such a gaffe.
In somewhat related news, we're happy to announce the new slogan of our own dating service: "Nerve Dating — We don't steal photos of dead people." Pretty catchy, don't you think?