September 14th, 2013
04:32 PM ET
11 months ago

Palin sued over alleged 9/11 photo use

NEW YORK (CNN) - Sarah Palin and her political action committee are being sued by a newspaper publisher over the use of an "iconic" Sept. 11 photograph.

In legal documents obtained by CNN, the North Jersey Media Group claims that Palin used their "WTC Flag Raising Photograph" without permission when it was allegedly posted on her Facebook page and the website for her political action committee, SarahPAC.


The photograph, which depicts three firefighters raising an American flag over the rubble of the World Trade Center, was taken September 11, 2001, by Thomas E. Franklin, a staff photographer at the publisher's subsidiary, The Record, in New Jersey. CNN Films recently produced a documentary, entitled “The Flag,” that explored the story of the banner, which went missing.

The photograph has drawn national attention - being made into a stamp in 2002, and later enshrined in the Library of Congress, according to the photographer's website.

Screen captures sent to CNN by the publishing company show the picture on Palin's Facebook page, embossed with the words, "We Will Never Forget." CNN did not, however, independently view the photos on Palin's websites before they were reportedly taken down.

“It’s important to enforce our copyright on this iconic photo," Jennifer Borg, general counsel of the North Jersey Media Group, told CNN. “When neither Ms. Palin nor her PAC responded to our demand letter to remove the photo, we were left with no choice but to seek redress through the courts.”

In the federal lawsuit, filed Friday, the publisher asks that Palin and SarahPAC be forced to stop using the photograph and pay damages or defendants’ profits.

CNN reached out to Palin and her representatives for comment Saturday, but did not receive an immediate response.


Filed under: Sarah Palin
soundoff (630 Responses)
  1. Bob

    I assume he's suing everyone that is using it? Or maybe just the people he doesn't like?

    September 14, 2013 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  2. bellenoitr

    She's not smart enough to realize you have to seek permission to use someone else's photo.

    September 14, 2013 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  3. CraigW

    "three firefighters raising an American flag"? I was not aware there is an American flag. Considering America is comprised of North, Central and South America as well as the West Indies, I am guessing they meant to say the United States OF AMERICA flag.

    September 14, 2013 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  4. Rob Seed

    If the photo is "iconic" it should belong to the American people. No one should be enforcing a copyright on such a historic photo or be making a profit off of it.

    September 14, 2013 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  5. jeff

    ..but you did receive a response just not an immediate one?

    September 14, 2013 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  6. sam

    She is a absolute piece of worthless garbage not worthy of any semblance of respect or concern. Pathetic.

    September 14, 2013 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  7. Chris

    Welcome to America, how can we sue you today?

    September 14, 2013 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  8. shane vanderhoff

    do you expect anything different from sarah palin? what a loser

    September 14, 2013 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  9. bill wells

    it's a photo if you don't want people to use it don't put it on the internet how un American cnn i will switch over to fox news

    September 14, 2013 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  10. HoWdY Doody

    Damages? Easy! There were none.

    The profit made off of that photo being somewhere on their web page for a few hours? Again, none. They'd have to prove that the image is what generated the profit and they simply cannot do this.

    I'm not a big Palin fan, but this seems just like they're cherry picking their target. A quick search will turn up thousands of pages that use that image and the one person they choose to sue just happens to be America's favorite punching bag.

    September 14, 2013 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  11. Joe Mason

    Sarah Palin writes answers on the back of her hands and was caught by television cameras on a talk show. Now this happens and it takes a lawsuit to get things settled. Hillary Rodham Clinton for President 2016 ! There were 13 deadly attacks on embassies and consulates while rich oil boy George w. Bush was playing President and not one complaint or conspiracy investigation or hearing by Congress involving Bush or The State Department. :) FROM UNCLE JOE , SALEM , OHIO.

    September 14, 2013 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  12. Danko Ramone

    Sarah tried to make her own meme and even screwed that up. Wow.

    September 14, 2013 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  13. gramma nance

    Love this article....Palin doesn't THINK before she opens her mouth or uses her brain!

    September 14, 2013 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  14. iBod

    They cannot be serious. Correct me if I am wrong, but are there not laws in place that protect the fair use of copyrighted material?...ESPECIALLY when such material is already in the public domain?! I really do respect those who have copyrighted material, but they are totally ignorant to modern capabilities if they want to enforce their copyright because of this sort of "violation" of said material. I can Google the image right now, save a copy of the highest resolution version onto my desktop, and upload it to Facebook RIGHT NOW. What are they going to do about it? I'm not profiting off of it. Neither is Sarah Palin. The only one profiting from the upload of user data is Facebook. The NJMG needs to get a freaking grip.

    September 14, 2013 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  15. Joe Mason

    Hillary you always say , "BLOOM WHERE YOU ARE PLANTED" so we the people just planted you SO BLOOM BABY ! BLOOM ! From Uncle Joe , SALEM , OHIO ! :)

    September 14, 2013 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  16. Donna Coles

    U betcha they should sue

    September 14, 2013 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  17. MarkS101

    OMG, LOL! Fair usage applies here!

    September 14, 2013 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  18. Elliott Carlin

    I'm no Palin supporter, but this is just silly. Did they sue the USPS?

    September 14, 2013 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  19. Me

    I doubt they would "enforce" their copyright against any of the other thousands of Facebook users who posted the same picture. This lawsuit is political vengeance.

    September 14, 2013 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  20. Jules

    If they are going to sue Palin then they need to sue the rest of America who also used that photograph on facebook. Sad when they pick one person who is in the press to accomplish their own agenda. They need to just get over it!

    September 14, 2013 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  21. KBNJ

    Good grief if she took it down, who cares? Sound like a couple libtarded newspaper types have their panties all in a bunch over a Conservative.

    September 14, 2013 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  22. davestake

    Obviously if Palin was a Democrat, there'd be no suit...

    September 14, 2013 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  23. tim

    Why won't she just go away?

    September 14, 2013 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  24. billluton

    I can't stand Sarah Palin... but shouldn't this photo belong to America?

    September 14, 2013 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  25. billluton

    I can't stand Sarah Palin... but shouldn't this photo belong to America? Come on guys... drop it.

    September 14, 2013 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
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