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. Robert Bruce

    only a group from jersey could be so petty

    September 14, 2013 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  2. Bob

    Palin is a disgusting opportunist.

    September 14, 2013 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  3. C

    And why is this national news? Oh, right. Sarah-haters...

    September 14, 2013 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  4. Chaos

    Palin redistributed property belonging to other people for her use.

    September 14, 2013 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  5. Carpe Veritas

    I find it unconscionable and morally reprehensible to think that a media company would claim 'ownership' of a photograph that represents a tragedy felt and 'owned' by a nation still mourning its dead. The picture represents the shared process of grieving. It is a symbol of the nation;s, nay, each individual's, family's and community's s capacity to recover and rise above the unthinkable.

    Go ahead and claim ownership. Sue for millions of dollars in corporate profit that you will never share with the families who lost loved ones if you win. You might as well spat on their graves and in our collective faces.

    Who cares if Sarah Palin or anyone else for that matter posts the picture on her facebook page. You make own the rights to the picture itself. How dare you claim ownership over anyone's right to claim and proclaim their devotion for their country and keep the memory of the victims alive using one simple photograph.

    Was it used for direct monetary profit? No. Is she or anyone else with this picture on facebook going to use it to sell t-shirts or coffee mugs,? Not likely. Are you suing just because it's Sarah Palin? Maybe

    What message does this lawsuit send to the nation? The picture, that memory, that moment does not really belong to the nation. It belongs to the media and they have to pay to use it. Personally, it makes me sick

    September 14, 2013 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  6. MV

    Good. Tired of these politicians exploiting that violent day. And yes, Republicans are worse. They have nothing good to say about New York, but love to latch on to 9-11. And somehow, their party's failure to protect us from those attacks is supposed to be evidence that they are good on defense issues. It boggles the mind.

    September 14, 2013 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  7. Notinsanelikeyou

    Cant she just go away? And a point should be made, when you attack everyone you disagree with you better CYOA as a high profile person because most of the cool stuff in this country is done by libs.

    September 14, 2013 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  8. Andrew

    This is ridiculous and shouldn't be front page news. We all get that Gov. Palin wasn't ready to be, nor should have been, a Vice Presidential candidate – we GET it. But that doesn't make her an idiot or horrible person – she was a successful woman, mother, and politician who made it to Alaska's highest office. Now she can't even support 9/11 with a picture almost EVERYONE posted on their facebook pages without being sued AND plastered on the front page of CNN? Seriously? I respect CNN as being one of the last remaining neutral news sources, but this is ridiculous. Folks, please take this off of your front page; it's not news and diminishes CNN's stellar reputation.

    September 14, 2013 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  9. mitchell

    I am sure Palin and her action committee did not purposely disregard any copyrights, though they should respond to the paper and act accordingly.
    Hopefully this issue will not be made into more then the minor news story it is.

    September 14, 2013 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  10. Macker

    I guess this is one of the people the GOP want to control with their intellectual property on the internet legislation.

    September 14, 2013 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  11. mr bob

    Sarah who?

    September 14, 2013 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  12. Mike Trottier

    I used to listen to her only because she was good looking,......but man-o-man, has she gotten ugly

    September 14, 2013 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  13. JerkyPickler

    ..hmm and here I thought that they had released it into general domain / commons / etc ..since it is listed in wiki and other sources that way. But hey why not try to make a dishonest buck off of someone else's' grief I mean after all it was taken with the USofA as a whole in mind, not as a picture to make any amount of $$ off of.

    September 14, 2013 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  14. NameScott

    So the publisher wants to profit from the tradgey of 911 or is it just Palin he hates?

    September 14, 2013 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  15. Neil

    She could see the World Trade Centers from her front porch.

    September 14, 2013 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  16. Palin is such a Joke, She is the Laughing Stock of America

    John McCain and Sarah Palin are the most nut job politicians of America.
    Thank God they did not win the 2008 elections.

    September 14, 2013 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  17. rs

    What is it with Republicans and copyright? They use peoples' music, images, and publications as if they don't have any responsibility- rules don't apply to them, they just steal what they want.

    September 14, 2013 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    just let her fall off the edge of the news and be done with her :(

    September 14, 2013 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  19. sandra

    what do you expect from a bunch of obama followers

    September 14, 2013 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  20. John

    The photograph is property of the photographer and shouldn't be used without permission. The lack of response from Palin and her PAC representatives is a testament to their elitism.

    September 14, 2013 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  21. GubnitSPY

    Its just a question of money so don't get too exited, the milfy Mrs Palin will still be out there for the idiocracy crowd.

    September 14, 2013 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  22. tednugent'sdiapers

    What else would you expect from a Repuke??

    September 14, 2013 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  23. MiketheComic

    You would think a journalism major might know a little something about copyright laws. She's a category 5 moron.

    September 14, 2013 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  24. Hate this Imbecile

    That woman is a disgusting human being.

    September 14, 2013 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  25. kotsy

    In the time of tragedy, many used this photo. It represents America. This news outlet should be ashamed of themselves. You would have to go after thousands who used this. Can you not take pride in putting forth one of the most iconic emblems of 9/11 and let it rest? Or are you after the caching? that is what is wrong with America

    September 14, 2013 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
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