September 14th, 2013
04:32 PM ET
10 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. david

    Republicans have a history if disregarding copyrights. They feel that it's okay to steal if it helps promote their agenda. Just proves that they don't actually care about the little guy.

    September 15, 2013 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  2. Anonymous

    And we care about her because?

    September 15, 2013 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  3. Ed

    Nice. Now the Democratic media wants to make money off 9/11.

    September 15, 2013 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  4. Bubba

    I thought Republicans were supportive of legal property protection???? Why is such an iconic Republican going around and "stealing" private property, and why is the GOP not censuring her.
    I guess the GOP does nor recognize crimes committed by their own, nor by those who support the GOP financially.
    Such hypocrisy is UnAmerican.

    September 15, 2013 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  5. Ahhh Sheit Midrauers

    Will she go away already

    September 15, 2013 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  6. skytag

    So much for respecting property rights.

    September 15, 2013 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  7. tonyl

    She needs to call her neighbor Putin of Russia who's house she can see from her house. He will sure help her as a good neighbor to get out the suit she is facing. He just helped Obama get out of a pickle. Palin and Michele Bachmann go hand in hand as "No brain but big mouths".

    September 15, 2013 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  8. Jon

    Unless if they plan to sue everyone on facebook that has ever shared or posted this photo (which i have at one point in time) then i doubt they get anywhere with it.

    September 15, 2013 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  9. Real Liberal

    Run Sarah run, them Liberals are after the Hawky mama. Sara run to Alas-ka

    September 15, 2013 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  10. YHVH

    OMG. I recall when I frist saw this photo and thought – this is it – the iconic image of this tragedy. I see it all the time on FB posts.

    But, to file a law suit against Palin smacks of political bad blood – unless the owners are now suing everyone for using this image.

    Icons like this belong to the people and if they are used to sue for political intent – then I believe the protection of this icon in this manner equals the tragedy of the event of what was done to our country on that fateful day. What "they" couldn't do to us in a single attack, "we" are doing to ourselves.

    I'll no longer consider this icon for anything 9/11 related. Shame on you – oh owners of this image.

    September 15, 2013 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  11. IBeWhoIBe

    Palin's has been caught lying so many times, it's not worth counting anymore. That her PAC steals is hardly a surprise. At what point will she and her supporters figure out her 15 minutes are long, long over.

    September 15, 2013 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  12. Flooby

    She's the biggest tool ever.

    September 15, 2013 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  13. GOP= Greed Over People (Party)

    No comment

    September 15, 2013 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  14. xx4zu1

    Please sue her into irrelevance.

    September 15, 2013 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  15. Will Seay

    So.. the Defendants in this action want to "profit" from this photograph? And Sarah simply used it to remind us of the hero's will never forget... hmmmmm .... seems to me that the defendants are idiots and the brave men who raised the flag and Sarah Palin both show a good measure of heroism.... God Bless our Hero's and God be with Sarah Palin as she takes on yet another LIBERAL mental case... you go girl!

    September 15, 2013 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  16. Brent Jacobs

    If Palin was a Democrat the company wouldn't be suing her. This is blatantly and obviously politically motivated, so though I am no Palin fan I cannot and do not support this absurd and opportunistic litigation.

    September 15, 2013 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  17. Tom Riddle

    Making money off of 9/11?

    September 15, 2013 01:32 am at 1:32 am |
  18. Burt Ward

    A political action committee is a non-profit organization that files for a permit with the IRS as a fund raising organization that supports a political cause or candidate. It does not have a profit model as a for-profit corporation would have. It is even doubtful that using the image resulted in a net gain of donations to the organization. I think it will be hard for a jury or judge to see any such damage.

    September 15, 2013 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  19. San Diego Mayor

    I didn't THINK I could have had any lower opinion of her. But, now....

    September 15, 2013 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  20. jeff

    They just can't stop.

    September 15, 2013 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  21. Anna Lindberg

    and, did they pay modeling fee to the fire fighters in return?

    September 15, 2013 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  22. Fladabosco

    As distasteful as Sarah Palin is on the American landscape, this sounds like a clerical error more than anything else and doesn't seem to be a big deal.

    It's too bad, because I really dislike her and her politics.

    September 15, 2013 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  23. DMcC

    North Jersey Media Group, you should be ashamed! That photo belongs to the people of the U.S.A. Claiming it's use for yourself makes you nothing but a hypocrite! I would say more but I'm sure the cussing I'd really like to give you isn't allowed!

    September 15, 2013 01:56 am at 1:56 am |
  24. 9/11 was a Great Day

    The most violent country in history got taught a lesson but it still didn't get it's act together.

    September 15, 2013 01:59 am at 1:59 am |
  25. Kelli Jo Blanton

    No response from Palin yet? Wow, that is so funny. Usually she can't keep her big pig lips shut!!!

    September 15, 2013 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
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