UQAM suing student for $125K for explicit social media posts

The Universite du Quebec a Montreal (UQAM) downtown campus is seen Tuesday, November 14, 2017 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

The Universite de Quebec a Montreal (UQAM) is suing one of its students for $125,000 for allegedly posting explicit photos of herself on social media with the university’s logo.

A lawsuit filed in Superior Court in Montreal last week alleges Helene Boudreau, a visual arts student at UQAM, is hurting the university’s reputation after several partially nude photos of her were posted to her Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts in the past few weeks.

The first photo that caught the university’s attention was posted on Feb. 24 to her Instagram account, which was not private, in which she exposes part of her breasts with a diploma clearly showing the UQAM logo. She shared the same photo the following day on her Facebook and Twitter accounts, according to the lawsuit.

On March 2, the university’s vice-rector for academic life, Jean-Christian Pleau, contacted Boudreau requesting she remove the posts. She removed the Instagram post, but left the photos online on her Twitter and Facebook profiles, the lawsuit stated. 

According to the lawsuit, in another post on March 12 on her Facebook, Boudreau is seen partially naked and gives the middle finger with a UQAM banner behind her celebrating the university’s 50th birthday. 

She is also alleged to have used similar photos to promote her content on OnlyFans, an adult website that has been profitable to the woman. According to the lawsuit, it’s alleged that Boudreau gave an interview to the newspaper 24 Heures, in which she said she earns upwards of $20,000 per month from her content. 

UQAM alleged her posts caused “substantial damage” to the university and is seeking $100,000 for damages to its reputation and $25,000 for punitive damages. 

None of the allegations have been tested or proven in court.

Boudreau changed her Instagram account to private Wednesday afternoon and did not respond to requests for comment from CTV News on her social media accounts. 

The university is also asking for an "urgent" injunction to stop her from posting any more photos with the UQAM name or logo, arguing that the right to freedom of expression does not give people the right "to defame nor the right to use the intellectual property of a third party."

She has previously defended her content on her social media platforms, saying in an Instagram video that she’s an artist and that her photos are an expression of her work. 

“Art can be anything,” she said in the video.

“Certain people will say it’s outrageous, in poor taste, that they have no place on social media or in educational institutions, then other people will say it’s original … artistic genius. So, it’s for you to decide.”

A spokesperson for UQAM said she could not comment on the case since it is before the courts.  

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