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.

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. Padraig

    Since when has Sarah Palin been a law-abiding citizen? She used Heart's "Barracuda" without permission and refused to stop doing so when asked by the artist. She has no respect for copyrights or property rights, nor for the rule of law. I guess it's because she's so rogue...

    September 15, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  2. My10Cents

    At this point Palin is nothing more than a political caricature and opportunist. John McCain will continue to garner my everlasting disdain for having unleashed this paranoid parochial clown on the US public. Shame on you John McCain.

    September 15, 2013 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  3. ATLJack

    For all the Palin worshipers out there:

    Question: why does a person who is NEVER going to run for national office NEED a "political action committee"?

    Answer: So she can continue to fleece simple-minded followers of their money so she can enrich herself.

    Think about it.

    Here is a woman who went to THREE community colleges, who was the mayor of a town of 5,000 people, who only served as Governor of a state with only 600,000 people for only two years...

    at least SHE knows she can't run for national office but she would go away if her followers would EVER accept this simple and obvious fact.

    September 15, 2013 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  4. Theseus

    A) I'm so glad Sarah Palin is in trouble for something, she's such a terrible person.
    B) Who gets to tell us that using a picture of a historic event isn't something that we can do? Who exactly does own the 9/11 franchise and have they trademarked all 9/11 memorabilia? Would we get in trouble for showing pictures of Pearl Harbor after the fact? Corporate BS is running this country and even the slightest expression of patriotism can now get you in legal trouble.

    September 15, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  5. Middle of the road

    Par for the course. If even 1/2 of the things documented about her are true, then she's the sloppiest, laziest, least educated, most unethical political wannabe of this generation.

    September 15, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  6. dscoll

    @jim970 Oh please god, nominate her. Do it today, dont wait. That would be the surest way to ensure another 4 yrs of Democratic control of the White House. So Im all for it.

    September 15, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  7. Johnjon

    can someone be sued for being stupid?

    September 15, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  8. bill589

    In AK, Palin successfully prosecuted the corrupt in government AND ended their capitalist cronies’ leeching. She has demonstrated the capability and desire to oust corruption.

    This is exactly what needs done in DC, and she is the one with the executive experience doing it.

    The GOP and Dem establishment lies have hurt Palin, but lies eventually lose their power as truth comes to light. And the truth is on Palin’s side in a big way.

    May all come to light soon.

    September 15, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  9. al

    so, who's the welfare queen that wants everything for nothing?

    September 15, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  10. M

    What bugs me is that the newspaper is sueing because they didn't profit off of 9/11.....Its sick how much money they make selling rights to a picture of such a tragic event.

    September 15, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  11. bill589

    “Drive her TV critics crazy! They are obsessed with her!” – Greta

    Yes Palin’s haters are obsessed with her.
    Hating and lying everyday, for years and years . . . IS obsession.
    And what makes it sadder still, is these obsessed ones claim she’s irrelevant.
    So they’re obsessed with someone they say is unimportant. Sad.
    This type of break with reality is common among those who suffer from PDS.

    Sarah Palin did more good in two years than other governors do in their lifetimes.
    God bless our constitutional republic and it’s patriots.

    September 15, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  12. old guy in West Virginia

    It's a free country and Ms. Palin has every right to disseminate her views. She does not, apparently, have the right to use copyrighted images. Oops!

    There is no compelling reason ever to listen to Palin, except perhaps if one wants to know what occurs in the feeble and fevered minds of wingnut know-nothings. Those who enrich her do so to their own shame.

    September 15, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  13. Any Mouse

    Notes to the reading-impaired out there:
    CNN did not file the suit; North Jersey Media Group did. (Read the 2nd paragraph)
    The Plaintiff sent a demand letter, and it was ignored, so they filed a lawsuit.


    The people who incorrectly think CNN sued her and/or no demand letter was sent seem to be in the pro-Palin crowd. Hmmmm........

    September 15, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  14. bear

    Its hilarious how Palin gets under the skin of the left. No one on the right cares what she thinks any more. Fox realized that and dropped her. Once she baled out of the governors job in Alaska, she was damaged goods anyway. But every time she does anything the left goes in convulsions. LOL.

    September 15, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  15. vinster76

    I must admit that reading all you Palin-haters on here, and reading what passes weakly for coherent thought has taught me one thing.....Most of you who possess the right to vote do so with very little common sense...Most of you appear to be the product of a pathetically liberal education system, devoid of real thought coupled with an eye to history, and the nature of man........You sadden me as some of you will lead our institutions, businesses, and governments......Your lack of truly intellectual depth is saddening to me.....and millions like me.......

    September 15, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  16. JLS1950

    Sarah Palin: the DNC's best secret weapon!

    September 15, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  17. vinster76

    once again for all you liberal-indoctrinated simps out there in fantasy land: This woman has more sense in her little toe, than most of you combined, multiplied by a factor of 12. What is sad, is you don't even have the slightest clue how foolish you spout off inanities parroted by other liberal derelicts and pronounce yourself intellectual.......sad.....

    September 15, 2013 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  18. Joe

    Lesson 1 – How to divert a liberals attention. Just mention Sarah Palin is associated with *blank*. Liberals will unleash hate and bias like it's no ones business. During that time you can invade Syria, give weapons to drug cartels, unleash the IRS on any group you want, Use the NSA to spy on the entire country, let Russia accept our worst traitor in this century and rack up $17 Trillion in debt.

    September 15, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  19. vinster76

    Joe: nicely done......I agree wholeheartedly with your matter how on earth liberals try to slice the current state of our nation, this president is an unbelievable failure.....Even the Teamsters are ticked off at him......All the promises he made about being transformational, yada, yada, yada, have all turned out the be the flailings of a man who just wanted to be president....the makeup is off, we see him for what he is.......Mrs. Palin looks like Reagan compared to this guy in the white house....

    September 15, 2013 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  20. rs

    If the GOP cannot abide by a simple regulation like copyright, why in the world should anyone believe them when they wrap themselves in the flag and claim they revere the U.S. Constitution?
    Criminals and chiselers, pure and simple.

    September 15, 2013 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  21. rs

    In AK, Palin successfully prosecuted the corrupt in government AND ended their capitalist cronies’ leeching. She has demonstrated the capability and desire to oust corruption.
    Actually, in AK, Palin failed to complete her term on the Alaska Oil & Gas Commission, was a controversial (kind description) mayor of a tiny Alaska town, and apparently played fast and loose (fast and furious) with zoning laws that benefitted corporate contributors, and ultimately failed to complete her term as Governor, all the while belonging to the Alaska Separatist Party.
    She was the corruption (bridge to nowhere), and a real vision for America of the anti-American disaster that would be the Republican TEA Party.

    September 15, 2013 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  22. Ngau Hu Phart

    Incompetence surrounding incompetence. Didn't vet the picture, just like her idol John McCain didn't vet his running mate... At least Bullwinkle Barbie's hanging on to the last threads of notoriety has a pathetic entertainment value.

    September 15, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  23. rs

    Its hilarious how Palin gets under the skin of the left.
    There may be truth to what you say. However, I think for myself, and many on the Left, the selection of Palin for any sort of national political office simply shows how bad the GOP's decision-making process is- and why they do not deserve to win elections until they let the adults take charge again.

    September 15, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  24. Magister

    Sarah Palin could find a cure for cancer and they'd still demonize her. That's the Left for you.

    September 15, 2013 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  25. melissa gwyther

    As a liberal, I loathe her, but everyone has used that that picture on FB, posters and everything else without permission of use. I feel this picture is "America's" image not one sole person. Sorry, can't support this one folks.

    September 15, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
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