Actress in Anti-Catcalling Video That Went Viral Sues Creators for $500K

07/17/2015 AT 10:20 AM EDT



The actress featured in an anti-catcalling video that went viral last fall has filed a $500,000 lawsuit against the director and the nonprofit organization behind the piece.

Shoshana Roberts walked 10 miles and racked up more than 40 million online views in an anti-harassment video that sparked a debate last October about how women are treated on the streets.

She's now suing the director, Rob Bliss, and the anti-street-harassment group that released the video, Hollaback!, claiming they used her performance and her likeness for "advertising or trade without her prior written consent," according to the Associated Press.



Roberts is also suing YouTube, which hosted the "10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman" video; Google, YouTube's parent company; and restaurant chain T.G.I. Friday's, which parodied the video in an advertisement.

Roberts, 24, claims she was paid $200 to appear in the video that first hit the Web on Oct. 28, 2014. In it, she wears jeans and a T-shirt and carries two audio recorders while Bliss walks in front of her with a camera hidden in his backpack. The pair captured many men harassing Roberts as she quietly walked New York City streets.

"What's up, beautiful?" one man asked. "Smile!" yelled another.

Roberts never made eye contact or talked with any of the men she passed, but after the video was uploaded to YouTube, she reportedly received online threats. Roberts prominently features a mention of the video on her website and uses the clip on her site's video page.

Emily May, executive director of HollaBack!, declined PEOPLE's request for comment.

Email requests for comment also sent early Friday morning to Bliss and Roberts were not immediately returned.
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