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. Patricia

    I dislike Sarah Palin a lot but this is really stupid.

    September 15, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  2. Mei

    Shameful that the news paper would sue over these photos. They do not hold the rights over sorrow from these events.

    September 15, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  3. The Brutal Truth

    Democrats: Want to take the fruit of your labors and share them with others.

    Republicans: Want to take the fruit of your labors and keep them for themselves.

    I guess Ms. Palin is just being true to her party.

    September 15, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  4. SuemeSUEYOU!

    OMG! THis is an ugly lawsuit. When are they going to start enforcing the Malicious Prosecution laws???
    They never will. Without frivolous lawsuits like this one, the Justice Department would have to start laying people off just like the Post Office did.
    So they will never end.

    I answered my own question, but feel free to chime in...

    September 15, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  5. cleareye1

    Much ado about nothing. The publisher should first alert Palin of the legal issues and tell her to remove the image. If she does not after being informed she should have to pay big time.

    September 15, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  6. Ed

    Typical Republican. Not interested in following laws. Only interested in creating and enforcing them.

    September 15, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  7. Hahayeah

    I despise Sarah Palin and yes this is obviously an attack by the liberal media to get to her. But conservatives have been filing suits against President Obama for the past 3 years because he didn't urinate the right way. What'st he difference?

    September 15, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  8. Earth99

    All I can do is chuckle... Palin surrounds herself with a bunch of dummies and constantly uses underhanded tactics and words that could incite riots and does incite hte; she is simply the iconic hate-mongers in the party of many hate-mongers. So be it.

    September 15, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  9. noAd

    The U.S. economy is based on the appropriate use of intellectual property, including trademark and copyright. If the free market capitalist Sarah Palin doesn't even understand that simple fact, well then, she's just simple and greedy. But then we already know that.

    September 15, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  10. Joemama

    I didn't give the Jersey Media group permission to use
    the photograph.

    September 15, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  11. D Palmer

    That picture was all over Facebook on 9/11. Did they sue everyone that posted it, or just the prominent Conservative politician?

    September 15, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  12. Peace

    This woman is aging so fast. Time to stay home and take care of the grandkids.

    September 15, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  13. nobull4u

    Palin will do anything to get her name back in the news.

    September 15, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  14. everettreb

    How many other people used that image on websites and blogs? Are they going to sue all of them?

    September 15, 2013 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  15. rs

    The Right is soooo twisted. The Palin supporters here (evidence of twisted in and of itself) seem to be saying "so what if it is the law (please go to the Library of Congress web site if you need a refresher), but I broke the law too by spreading it around Facebook..." well stooge YOU broke the law too! Try that simpleton's logic the next time you get nabbed speeding and see how it works. Meanwhile, theft is theft. You are supposed to be people that revere law- figure it out.

    September 15, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  16. AJ

    In a capitalist country, we are allowed to profit off our work, and when someone steals it, they should be prosecuted. Welcome to America Ms. Palin.

    September 15, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  17. Spendlove

    It's hilarious to read all the Obama hate comments from the Fox News peeps here on CNN... And yes we should compare Sarah's achievements with Obama. Last I checked Obama won two elections, finished his first term and while currently in his second we, the American people can now enjoy the benefits of a restored economy and more jobs than we've had in years. Now let's compare those achievements with Sarah Palin, she quit her job as Gov before it was over and lost her ill-fated bid for Vice President. Nuff said.

    September 15, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  18. Leatrix

    Nothing like a bigotted blowhard getting what they deserve.

    September 15, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  19. Palintologist

    Correction: The "Wiz from Wasilla" attended FIVE schools before receiving her "BS" in Plagiarism from The Klondike
    School of Cosmetology & Geo-Political Science.

    That opportunistic grifter can kiss my snow chains. You betcha!

    September 15, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  20. snowdog74

    Someone here argued "I get these on my facebook all the time." well, maybe it's time you read 17 USC 1, Sections 101-107. Section 107 deals with Fair Use. Sarah Palin's people using it for her political or economic gain does not fall under fair use. Tough.... If you say you love America so much, that you hate "socialism" (or that thing that Fox News calls socialism, i.e. anything and everything that doesn't benefit you personally), that you're a law-abiding citizen, then start acting like it and accept copyright law for what it is and not just when it's ideologically convenient for you.

    September 15, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  21. Martha in CF

    To Jim 970-–Palin will never be elected president!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 15, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  22. KatGrayson

    Doesn't sound like they made much of an effort to contact Sarah Palin or her action committee about the photo. There were millions of emotional photo shares that day. God forbid a a much-hated politician shares a photo to show support and share love...filing a lawsuit takes it a little far and is a bit too sensitive if you ask me. Long live patriotism. Copyright is important too, but we tend to cling to issues that are not very significant.

    September 15, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  23. Eli

    Palin understands that liberalism is a mental disorder......

    September 15, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  24. KatGrayson

    A lawsuit takes things too far. Yes, it's Sarah Palin, a popularly-hated politician. But, should simply sharing support, patriotism and love lead to lawsuit? No. There were very many photo shares and posts that day that breached copyright laws. Is this sensitive event and thoughtful photo share the right time to worry so much about copyright?

    September 15, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  25. Jules

    The only thing Palin is going to be elected to is the top of the "we wish you would GO AWAY list."
    No one in their right mind would vote for this woman to lead anything, and most especially our country. You want a republican? Elect Bobby Jindal. Or is he not far right enough? Not crazy enough? Even Chris Christie is better than Palin. Actually my dog would be better than Palin. Palin is an ill-bred, ignorant loudmouth. God forbid she and Ted Nugent ever hook up.

    September 15, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
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