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.

[twitter-follow screen_name='politicalticker'][twitter-follow screen_name='showills']

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. Vader

    Oh pish.. what's a little technicality like a copyright? After all, that's a tool of the media elite.

    September 15, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  2. scott in ga

    I can certainly agree that this President has his share of faults, and that our country has it's share of problems, but please...Sarah Palin must a be a left wing conspiracy to expose the right for the failing hypocrites that they are.

    September 15, 2013 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  3. mesai

    Please leave this dummy she is trash.

    September 15, 2013 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  4. Larry

    If it had been a liberal group, nothing would have been said. That beautiful photo has been copied and reposted on the Internet, manipulated, modified, mutilated, and used all over the place for the past 12 years, and this is the FIRST time they've gone after someone to take it down.

    Or at least made a huge public statement about doing so.

    It's politically driven, which tells us that even after all of their character assassination attempts, Palin still remains viable with a large sector of the voting public.

    It's the standard tactic – ridicule, and if it doesn't go away, attack.

    September 15, 2013 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  5. katokrusher

    What about the 1,000,000's of American's who posted "never forget" on their Facebook Profiles on 9/11. 1,000's using the same photo.

    I did – sue me – oh wait I am not someone who the liberal media is so scared of, they have to sue over the most idiotic thing.

    And as many of the others have posted – what are they scared of Palin as been irrelevant since 10 minutes after the election.

    September 15, 2013 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  6. Pete

    Sorry vinster76, Mrs. Palin actually looks like she is breaking the law by using this iconic 9/11 photo to raise money for her own political purposes. It's totally illegal for Palin to attach her SarahPAC logo onto this photograph for the purpose of fund raising and if she had half a brain she would have known better. Liberals don't need to try and slice anything, the current state of our nation is what it is because our current republican leaders can't seem to get anything accomplished, like Sarah Palin, all they do is whine and complain! Compared to Obama, Palin looks like Reagan in his twilight years when he was stricken down by Alzheimer's and suffering from dementia! She's a moron and will obviously do anything to try and fleece her flock of sheep out of a buck!

    September 15, 2013 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  7. mark

    It doesn't matter if it is a picture of a 9/11 or of your belly button and it doesn't matter if it is Sara Palin or the Pope, a photograph represents the photographers labor and it is only right for the photographer (or the company who pays their salary) to get paid when that photograph is used.

    September 15, 2013 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  8. M Houston

    "Mrs. Palin looks like Reagan compared to this guy in the white house.",
    Which guy in the white house, vinnie76? You mean the black guy who happens
    to be the President of the U.S?
    Maybe you're right. Reagan was the one dumbest U.S. president in history so, to
    the extent that she looks as dumb as that moron, you're right.

    September 15, 2013 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  9. Jack

    vinster76, If Palin had more sense in her little toe than most of us combined, multiplied by a factor of 12, then she wouldn't have attached her SarahPAC logo onto this iconic 9/11 image for the purpose of political fundraising and gotten slapped with a major financial lawsuit. Obviously Sarah Palin and her entire team of consultants did not have enough sense to regard the law. Now she's going to lose any money she raised from the use of this photo, and then some!! Poor Palin, a liberal has more sense in their little toe than Palin and her political consultants have combined! What a sad simpleton she is!

    September 15, 2013 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  10. Dean


    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.

    She was far more qualified than Obama was at the time.

    September 15, 2013 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  11. chazkelly

    Sarah Palin? Never heard of her.

    September 15, 2013 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  12. Tim

    I can't speak to the relevancy of Palin anymore but this is nothing but a left wing hack job of Palin. This "iconic" photo has been all over Facebook for many years. Anyone can post, comment, or share anytime something is on Facebook regardless. If companies are going to go after people for posting on FB they might as well shut the site down right now. The North Jersey media group is a bunch of left leaning publications masquerading as press.

    September 15, 2013 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  13. Pete

    vinster76, if Palin had more sense than most of us combined then she would have known not to use this copyrighted photo for her own political fundraising purposes. It's illegal. Not only did she use the image for political fundraising, the stupid fool defaced the image by attaching her personal logo onto the photograph! The only thing that's actually "sad" is your pitiful attempt to defend her, this was an epic fail on your part! Truly pathetic!

    September 15, 2013 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  14. Mike

    You liberals are a bunch of panzies. It simple, shes got a rack you wish you had (or you wish your wife had).

    September 15, 2013 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  15. pccoder

    Ha ha. Palin is an idiot. And to think that almost half this country was actually wanting her to be our Vice President!!?? Holy cow!

    September 15, 2013 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  16. Lisa

    Does this mean that I am going to be sued too? I repost that pic every year......Never Forget. I don't give a rats behind about Sarah Palin, but what kind of people sue over this? Go ahead and hate Palin if you choose, but why no out-cry against these heartless sue-happy brats? I am so disgusted!!!

    September 15, 2013 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  17. craigorie

    I can't believe this woman, she's a total goof ball and that she has a following is completely baffling to me.

    September 15, 2013 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  18. Jake in Oregon

    Not a big fan of Sarah Palin, however I posted the same picture on Facebook on Sept 11, 2013. Am I going to be sued?

    September 15, 2013 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  19. 4everdemocrat

    Blame the republicans and John McCain for letting this idiot out of the bag. Or nation will be much better off if lightning were to strike just the right spot.

    September 15, 2013 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  20. 4everdemocrat

    I find it hard to believe that somebody can use Sarah Palin and having sense in the same sentence. She is a national embarrassment.

    September 15, 2013 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  21. 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 THE MEN, for which the media 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 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  22. meg

    how much in "damages" could have there possibly be? it's sad that this photographer is trying so hard to profit from 9/11.

    September 15, 2013 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  23. Danny

    @Joe & Vinster: Don't you think your blatant use of misleading and distorted facts is more of an actual problem for our country than the fact that there are liberals here? It's one thing to stand up for what you believe in, but it's another thing entirely to abandon what you're supposed to believe in, to try and destroy your own fellow Americans.

    September 15, 2013 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  24. David

    I'm not a Palin fan but that same picture has been used thousands of times by millions of people and news organizations all over the world. Sounds like it's about money greed to me.

    September 15, 2013 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  25. Truth2012

    Now she'll have to return some of the bucks she fleeced off her simple minded bigoted followers...
    Anyone who would want his woman's finger on the button should be seen by a shrink...

    September 15, 2013 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
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