September 14th, 2013
04:32 PM ET
1 year 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. Neil

    For all of the Palin supporters who think she is being picked on... Copyright laws are clear and easy to follow. If her PAC had simply contacted the copyright holder, they would have charged her a fee to us the pic. Alternatively, they could have simply complied with the plaintiff's pre-suit request and stopped using the pic. Yes, Andrew, there are different rules for you and Palin. She is using the pic as part of a money-raising endeavor. The purpose of the copyright laws is to prevent stealing the copyright holder's profits. This is not a conspiracy; it's just the (longstanding) law.

    September 15, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  2. Ralph

    Sara is nothing, should be treated as nothing, and never talked about again. From this moment on, I refuse to read anything about her, or comment on any of the future things she may stick her nose in. She's not worth anyone's time, except her family's, maybe they can talk some sense into her, to just be a mom.

    September 15, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  3. vad

    Did the firefighters sue the newspaper for taking the photo without their permission? This is stupid.

    September 15, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  4. Jeff

    @Tampa Tim: She did know better, that's the point.
    @Andrew: Yes, you should be.
    @Rob: Lame? So doctors who make money from people's suffering are lame? Funeral directors who make money from people's deaths are lame? Dentists who dare charge you almost $1,000 to rid you of that face numbing pain via root canal are lame? People make money from others suffering and death all the time. Get off your self righteousness soap box and breath the heavier oxygenated air for a change.

    September 15, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  5. Jeff

    Sarah is at it again.....publicity.

    September 15, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  6. CB

    I hope anyone who disagrees with this suit has their work stolen from them. All pictures are copyrighted, whether someone enforces it or not is another story. But you people CLEARLY do not understand copyright law.

    September 15, 2013 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  7. Jeff

    Apparently you don't like truth, candor and directness in opinions as you are moderating every one of my comments. It's ok, it's your private site, I recognize your right to do so but doing so does not come without consequences, at best a loss of major credibility.

    September 15, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  8. tinkerbellrun

    As much as I can't stand Palin (I truly can't!!!), I think she's only one in a million online media users that have been posting that photo on their pages and blogs for more than a decade now.
    So if they're going after her they should go after every single person who has ever posted that photo.
    I'm all for copy rights protection but to single one person out for the image that has been used so much worldwide/webwide is just plain idiotic!

    September 15, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  9. bozzieb

    Simple Sarah is a complete fraud. There's not a single sincere bone in her body. The only job available to Palin is posing nude for Hustler Magazine.

    September 15, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  10. emck

    "That's pretty lame, I hate Palin, but that is just lame, it sickens me that someone is actually making money off that photo, or any 9/11 photos"

    I find it equally sickening that someone is using it (apparently in violation of copyright) as political propaganda.

    September 15, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  11. rswon

    The issue probably isn't that she used the picture, but she didn't give proper copyright and credit information. Also, if permission was required, don't you think the copyright holder has the right to say how that picture is used?

    September 15, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  12. Carolyn

    Another "story" from the "I'm Running out of Stories" file.

    September 15, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  13. Dave

    Joe Rosenthal didn't sue anyone over the use of the photo of Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima. Iconic images of momentous historic events are meant to be shared. The people becoming passionate about this issue here just hate Sarah Palin. Let's face it you hypocrites, it has nothing to do with copyright infringement.

    September 15, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  14. Edward Simpson

    Yeah, it's probably a selective use of lawyers against Palin, and it could even be characterized as petty for making her take down the picture, and people who (incredibly) still can stomach, even support, this woman might have a point....but I'm glad they went after her anyway.

    September 15, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  15. Joe

    Give me a break. That photo has been posted everywhere without consent, and they choose to only go after Palin. It amazes me how many hypocrites are on here. This is nothing more that some wack job libtards trying to prove a point.

    September 15, 2013 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  16. lovemybs

    I miss her. Wish she comes back. I can always use a good laugh.

    September 15, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  17. ogre12

    I hope it is the last we hear from you Winston Smith

    September 15, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  18. kalzone

    She looks more and more like Reagan from the Exorcist, every time I see her.

    September 15, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  19. ogre12

    I hope it is the last I hear from you Winston Smith.

    September 15, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  20. Roscoe Chait

    It's unlikely the lawsuit will succeed. The 9/11 photos have become iconic. Everybody uses them on the net. I don't like the Sarah, but nothing will come of this.

    September 15, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  21. Anonymous

    ...and so it goes in America.

    September 15, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  22. greatsnowman

    Anyone who can trigger such rage and venom from the left is OK in my book. Yet another ridiculous lawsuit

    September 15, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  23. nvh

    And so it goes in America

    September 15, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  24. RCM

    Palin = Fool

    September 15, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  25. Rand McNally

    I never knew Jersey had a North, thought it was all "New"....I'm not changing the map, just for them.

    September 15, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
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