September 14th, 2013
04:32 PM ET
7 years 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.

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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

    The problem here is that Palin is trying to make money (i.e. donations) via the picture. Therefore, she has no right to use it without permission. But as far as she's concerned, the rules don't apply to her, because she doesn't represent the "lower 48".

    September 15, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  2. Sinner Goldberg

    what if everyone on Facebook put this pic up as a personal photo?

    September 15, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  3. matthew

    Another political gimmick by the subversive left! Idiots all. They would love if it were Obama using the photo but not a true patriot - The photographer would probably even donate moneyif it were the Muslim brotherhood that used the photo!

    September 15, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  4. Sam

    My, haven't we become a bunch of greedy self serving megalomaniacs. This is a part of history, like the Kiss, and the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima, it belongs to all of us. Shame on you for enriching yourself on the history of our common suffering. I will not buy your stamps or in any way support your endeavor to profit from an image that represents such a horrible turning point in our history.

    September 15, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  5. John Myers

    Sue, Sue, Sue. That has become the US motto for near sixty years nows. What a shame. it should be called "Greed satisfaction"

    September 15, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  6. don in albuquerque

    No they don't need to sue everyone.....just Sarah. She touts herself as being above everything. Time to bring her down to the same level as everything. But then the GOTP always see themselves as above the law.

    September 15, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  7. No Name

    That isn't the only lawsuit coming up...there is one to occur in Genenva...where John Boy McCain keeps whining...
    See the UK and the USA have a "hidden asset" in Alaska...isn't that right Sarah...and as Levi Said "IT's HUGE" ...
    Now what could be so huge you ask...counter question...why is John Boy McCain in Syria then...WHAAAM!!!
    See you in Geneva Sarah Palin...and all those helpers from Far North...who seem to be running for the hills now...;)

    September 15, 2013 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  8. buddha

    I am not a palin fan by any means but this is ridiculous. Anyone can go to google and download the image and use it. I am sure on the anniversary millions of americans posted the image on their fb page to express their sadness. !!! How ridiculous to put ones energy towards such small issues. I would be thrilled if someone was using my photo. It is not all about money. Or, is that it? Is that the issue? Money?

    September 15, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  9. Anon

    Palin is a complete moron, I can't believe anyone still cares what that idiot does.

    September 15, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  10. Say what?

    Bad PR is Palins forte. It's cheaper for her to steal someone else's property than earning it through her own pitiful effort.

    September 15, 2013 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  11. Pam

    They will do anything to keep her out of politics, just another game to play

    September 15, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  12. BobinCO

    People are so weird, twisting themselves and their logic to justify their beliefs.

    Laws are laws. There is a difference between "sharing" an image on Social Media, and using an image on a personal website to make money. ASCAP rules about music are also strict. Laws are laws, and Ms. Palin shouldn't get a pass just because she's trying to hide behind her phony "patriotism."

    September 15, 2013 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  13. Dan

    People need to realize that the issue here isn't Palin using the picture it's her using the picture as part of a program to SOLICIT MONEY.

    September 15, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  14. darknesscrown

    "what if everyone on Facebook put this pic up as a personal photo?"

    If you try to/actually do make money off of it, then you will be sued. That's the reason we have copyright protections. Once Palin and her supporters master the art of reading words, she will drop her defense. Well, it's Sarah Palin, so probably not. People like her find no honor in admitting they are wrong in anything.

    September 15, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  15. egg

    glenn rice hit that trash

    September 15, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  16. Connect the dots, man.

    Ol' Sarah is just not too bright, is she?
    That was a rhetorical question, of course.

    September 15, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  17. Uncle Sam

    Everyone is just jealous of Palin, let it go.

    September 15, 2013 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  18. makinha

    Many posters here want to throw out our copyright law. That will have some interesting consequences. If you favor that, why don't you become a professional photographer for a year and give away your work for others to make money with? Isn't that the kind of generous spirit we all should have? You will find yourself starving and homeless, my friend. Are Americans so pathetically uneducated as to not understand that work product belongs to the person or company who copyrights it, whether it is a vacuum cleaner or a logo or a photograph. While we are at it, let's give up our entire civil justice system because of all these evil lawsuits! That'll show those libs!

    September 15, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  19. Sad and sadder

    Have you ever seen a person of zero relevance try so hard to become relevant? This is just sad.

    September 15, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  20. joey

    glenn rice is in the alaskan house

    September 15, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  21. Sue

    I saw the picture that was posted. It is the same picture that has been shown many, many, many times in the media-tv, newspapers, magazines, social media. They are only upset because it's Sarah Palin. If you don't like her, fine. But if she's going to be sued for posting this picture, then the thousands if not millions of others who have printed, posted, whatever this photo should also be sued. It's a famous picture because it's been shown so many times and everyone has seen it, but this is the first time I've heard of anyone being sued for showing it.

    September 15, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  22. caralee2010

    I hate to find myself on the same side of any argument as Sarah Palin, but that picture was EVERYWHERE on 9/11. Is the photog. suing all of those who put it up on their blogs,etc? That image has become symbolic of not just the "day" 9/11, but the fact that we as a nation rose above it. Good grief. I understand selling the image for use in books, on pamphlets – but once it's on a stamp, how do you stop people from putting it up on their fb page? Hope it's kicked out of court.

    September 15, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  23. Diane

    There are copyright laws for a good reason. Authors, photographers, composers and many others make their livings from royalties from their creations. Musicians make a living from royalties of their recordings. That photo does not belong to you or anyone but the photographer and the newspaper for which he worked. If you read the article, it it NOT all about money. Money wasn't even mentioned. The article didn't say they were suing for money, only to have the photo removed, because Palin didn't do it of her own accord when asked the first time. She is, technically, breaking the law. If there were no copyright laws, we likely wouldn't have any DECENT books, newspapers, music, professional musicians and artists and all the other cultural things we enjoy. Would you feel the same if a favorite sports figures sued for his/her image on something? They get paid for advertisements, and if you used their likeness to further your business, without permission, you would be breaking the law. Yes, this photo in question is wonderful in representing our country, but it does not BELONG to everyone. You may be THRILLED to have your photo plastered everywhere, as many of us would, but not if it was how you made your living and all your photos were out there for free and you weren't getting paid. You get paid for your work. So should creative people.

    September 15, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  24. TJ

    I'm sorry, but this is little more than an trivialized anaI-retentive attempt by liberal media run amok, to take a photo that, for the most part, BELONGS TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, and which was used in a tasteful manner (We will never forget).

    If the Jersey liberal media corp wants to get technical, the images of those three men BELONG TO THEM, for which they should not be allowed to profit. And the image of the flag... well, as I said already – that belongs to ALL Americans.

    September 15, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  25. Thomas

    They will do anything to keep her out of politics, just another game to play.

    She will do or use anything to keep her gravy train rolling !

    Sarah Palin , Chuck Norris 2016

    September 15, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
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