Sarah Palin Sued for Using an Iconic 9/11 Photo Without Permission


Sarah Palin is being sued after her political action committee (or PAC) posted an iconic September 11th photo on her Facebook page and website without asking permission from the copyright owner.

The famous photo was taken by photographer Thomas E. Franklin shortly after the attacks, and shows NYC Firefighters George Johnson, Dan McWilliams and Billy Eisengrein raising the American flag at Ground Zero.

Palin’s PAC decided to use the photo to commemorate the 12th anniversary of the attacks, however, they neglected to obtain permission from copyright owner, North Jersey Media Group, before doing so.


The media group admits that they did not want to file this lawsuit, but were forced to take legal action when neither Palin nor her PAC responded to a letter in which they requested that the photo be taken down.

“It is important to enforce our copyright on this iconic photo,” Jennifer A. Borg, vice president, corporate secretary and general counsel for North Jersey Media Group told “When neither Ms. Palin nor representatives from her PAC responded to our demand letter to remove the photograph, we were left with no choice but to seek redress in court.”

The media group is asking that the courts force Palin to remove the photo from both the website and Facebook page, as well as pay damages.

(via The Raw Story)

Image credits: Sarah Palin by Gage Skidmore

  • steve

    Most Americans respect what that image represents and wouldn’t think of exploiting it. Try using Palin’s copyrighted material to raise money for yourself and let’s see what happens.

  • steve

    By design and stipulation, funds raised from the image in other instances have been donated to 9/11 victims’ families.

  • steve

    Really? Most folks view Palin’s exploitation of this heartwrenching image as vulgar and shameless.

  • steve

    Shameless exploitation on Palin’s part. No surprise there. Money from other uses of the photo were earmarked for the families of victims from 9/11.

  • steve

    You’re dead wrong. As stated on the photo’s website: “We seek to ensure that the photograph is not used for personal gain and that it is used in a dignified and proper manner.”

    It’s called respect for what that image represents. The only thing Palin respects is financial gain for herself. And you support her exploiting the tragedy? Nice. And try to make it about the left? Pathetic.

  • Adam Cross

    but it’s facebook so you can post what you liiiike…. riiiiiight? idiots.

  • lori

    they may have purchased it through getty … but they have no legal right to put their name/dotcom on the poster. You are not allowed to alter photos or indicate copyright on them under US copyright law.

  • bob cooley

    Lori, You better brush up on your copyright law and understanding of stock imagery – when you buy a stock image, you have the right to alter it, put other info on it, etc. They aren’t claiming authorship of the image by putting their URL on it. Many companies buy stock photography, and put it with their company name, URLs, contact info, etc. on it for advertising (many of the billboards and websites you see use stock photography in just this way).

    Again, I’m no Palin fan, but I am more bothered by people’s lack of knowledge of licensing and how copyright actually works.

  • bob cooley

    Well, unless they licensed it from Getty of got it off a wire service they are subscribed to, then they actually have that right… sad but true

  • bob cooley

    That’s a false statement. There is no stipulation that the image only be used to raise funds for 911 families – Getty sells it for editorial use for $50, and for promotional and commercial use for higher.

  • steve

    You’re arguing against a statement I never made. I didn’t say it was ONLY used for 911 families. Some proceeds have also gone to Sandy’s victims and whatever other causes are deemed worthy. Palin doesn’t qualify.

  • bob cooley

    “by design and stipulation” – stipulation – noun:

    a condition or requirement that is specified or demanded as part of an agreement.

    If Palin’s camp licensed the photo from Getty or got if off a wire subscription, then they have every right to use the photo.

    I don’t like Palin, but I like ignorance and mis-information just as much, it only hurts real opposition and discourse when spreading it.

  • bob cooley

    Matt, I understand the sentiment, but friends posting the image are not doing so under the fair use provision, they are in just as much violation as anyone, private or public who posts the image without having licensed the image. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have been using 9-11 as political capitol for years – I’m not sure why this is suddenly a surprise (except that we all dislike Palin) :)

  • steve

    The stipulation is that the owner judges the intended usage will be for dignified purposes.

    I get it …. you’re the insecure “know-it-all” guy. Work on that inferiority complex. Life will be more pleasant :)

  • bob cooley

    I’d love for you to point out to me on Getty or through the wire services that sell the image where this is stipulated, making something up doesn’t make it so.

    Nice – go to an ad hominem attack – that works well when your actual argument fails.