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. Wolfram

    Are those real?

    September 15, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  2. john johns

    This is about as petty as anything I have seen....people hungry, homeless and ill and a suit over the use of a damned picture makes news.; If a picture is worth so much let us photograph the president he sure is worthless now

    September 15, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  3. AaronT3

    This has been her (and other Republicans) Modus operandi from the beginning. They would steal intellectual property which satisfies their agenda and deal with the suits latter. While the damage and misrepresentation has already been done. this is no different then her stealing LL Cool J's interview for her TV show, or the GOP Playing Guns-N-Roses music at their convention. Both cases (now this one) the artists had to file a lawsuit but as we all know the damage has already been done the those Republicans with their bought and paid for judges get away with a poke on the finger (not even a slap on the wrist)!!!

    September 15, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  4. Jim970

    Liberal media just cannot stop attacking Palin. What's the problem with the left? Think Palin has too good a chance to be elected president in 2016?

    September 15, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  5. Why

    The real question is why this has been has a PAC ! And, what idiot would give her money ?

    September 15, 2013 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  6. Dick Delson

    Palin is one of the dumbest women in America. It took her 6 years to get through 4 colleges. She quit as Alaska governor after 2 years. And John McCain lost the election the moment she opened her mouth.She said she knew all about foreign policy because she could see Russia from her backyard in Alaska. Never mind the fact that there is a small body of water between Alaska and Russia. It's called the Baring Sea. She is an idiot.

    September 15, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  7. gaviewer

    How tacky to copywrite a piece of history. I get wanting to be paid for your work, but it was the photographersdumb luck in being there, says a lot about someone profiting from tragedy. I hope the firefighters in the picture are paideverytime money is made from it. Doubt it.

    September 15, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  8. Seyed

    What a preposterous suit. Yes, the copyright should remain with the photographer, and he has every right to make money from his work. But to punish someone for innocent harmless use of the photo speaks volumes about the character of the photographer. A simple cease-n-desist letter would have sufficed. Why involve greed?

    September 15, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  9. Kathy

    They are only doing this because it's Palin (no I'm not a fan of hers). During the 9/11 memorial I received this photo numerous times on my Facebook page are they going to sue all of those people too?

    September 15, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  10. jimatmad

    The more that Sarah Palin is in the news, the stupider the Republicans look.

    It's all good for the Dems.

    The fact that Ms Palin apparently took the product of somebody else's work in order to try to benefit from the 9/11 tragedy makes it all the more 'Republican'.

    September 15, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  11. Susan TM

    I have mixed feelings about this. I abhor frivolous lawsuits but I do believe one needs permission to use copyrighted material. However I tend to agree with Sam's comment regarding the picture becoming a part of history such as the men raising the flag at Iwo Jima, the famous kiss between the couple as he is returning from the war thus becoming fair game by the public. I'm thinking the problem might be that Sarah Palin is the one who used it & they are embarrassed by it. Can't say that I blame them but don't believe a lawsuit is warranted.

    September 15, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  12. vinster76

    this woman has more common sense in her big toe than all the liberal nonsense-talkers on here combined, multiplied by a factor of 12...........sorry.....but to look at the current administration's "accomplishments" actually makes Sara look like a genius

    September 15, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  13. capitalism

    it's called capitalism. don't get upset because other people for being better. if you want other to share their pictures and properties with you, go move to a socialist country.

    September 15, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  14. bobinbrowndeer

    I have that plaque. The $$ went to the 9/11 fund, & I do not want an idiot like Sarah Palin to even pretend to be associated with it or FDNY

    September 15, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  15. Skeptimist

    Is that the woman that used to impersonate Tina Fey?

    September 15, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  16. Books Will Save The Planet

    I can see that the supposed owners of the photo aren't above making money from the tragic event either. One question though, after seeing the image on the Palin page how long after notice was given was it taken down? Compliance with US copyright laws does allow a first notice warning to be responded to. If after that the image was still used after ownership was known then it would be appropriate. Otherwise it is another frivolous lawsuit that has clogged the federal courts for decades.

    September 15, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  17. Jimmy

    Wonder if the IRS convinced them to sue this tea partier when they saw the opportunity?

    September 15, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  18. ajinchas

    it was made into a stamp, enshrined in the Library of Congress, doesn't that alone make it public domain? do they really expect that every single time that pic is shown, TV, schools, Libraries etc that they should be paid. i guess you shouldn't sing Happy Birthday either unless you pay a royalty.

    September 15, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  19. CTYank

    Don't forget how Sarah used Gretchen Peters' song "Independence Day", of course not understanding anything it was about. She just liked the chorus for her rallies. During that time Ms. Peters contributed all the legitimate royalties to Planned Parenthood in the name of Sarah.
    Funny how some people think Sarah has something to contribute. She's a "One-Way."

    September 15, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  20. Frank Garcia

    same imbeciles attacking Palin again? these liberal can't help themselves.... the images belong to ALL Americans

    September 15, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  21. Jax Wolff

    Why are we still talking about her?

    September 15, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  22. SlateMedia

    The fact that a media company would hold on to a copyright for this photo which is so symbolic to the suffering our country and it's people went through on 9/11 is nothing short of greedy and opportunistic. The copyright for this photo should belong to the American People period. I'm no fan of Palin, but the play by this media company is petty and pathetic. It's akin to copyrighting the Cross or a menorah. There's a point where a symbol of something that has affected people so much ceases to belong to any single individual or organization and then belongs to the masses.

    September 15, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  23. eoin12

    Liberal media just cannot stop attacking Palin. What's the problem with the left? Think Palin has too good a chance to be elected president in 2016?
    LOL thanks Jim I need a laugh this morning, Palin being the Hopeful for the Rep Party in 2016, ROFLAO Now That's Funny

    September 15, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  24. Mei

    Shameful that anyone would sue over 9-11 photos, as if they have a right to sorrow and death of the thousands killed there. That news company is shameful!

    September 15, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  25. The Brutal Truth


    Palin getting sued. I LOVE it!

    September 15, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
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