North Jersey Media Group Inc. (NJMG) has filed a complaint against Fox News Channel, accusing the cable network of copyright infringement for the alleged unauthorized use of an iconic Sept. 11, 2001 photograph.
The picture in question (shown above) is an iconic image depicting three firefighters raising the American flag amid the World Trade Center rubble. The NJMG complaint, filed Monday, accuses FNC of posting the photo without permission on TV personality Bret Baier’s Facebook page. According to the documents, which are posted below, this is not the first violation by the cable news channel.
Of course, not everyone agrees with the assertion of illegalities.
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“This is out of hand,” a Fox News insider told TheWrap. “This is the second time this has happened now with this particular plaintiff’s lawyer. These are very small uses of a photograph on a day of remembrance to commemorate the day and share that on social media.”
“If you’re a New Yorker, it’s a big deal still,” the insider added. “This particular photograph has become the ubiquitous or iconic photograph.”
Attorneys for the plaintiff in the complaint were reached, but William Dunnegan — the lawyer cited on the filing — did not immediately offer a comment to TheWrap. NJMG owns The Record and Herald News, two New Jersey newspapers.
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Meanwhile, the Fox News insider had plenty more to say, contending that FNC sharing the picture on Facebook is a “classic fair use” issue under copyright law. The insider went even further, calling the complaint an attempt for Fox News to be “shaken down.”
So what exactly is the media company shaking Fox News down for? Apparently, $150,000 plus attorneys fees — which is a full penalty for copyright infringement. Meanwhile, the Fox News insider told TheWrap that usage of the photo was previously available through the Associated Press image bank for $220.
This isn’t the first case brought forward by what the insider called a “copyright troll.” The same company has also sued printing companies Zazzle and Cafe Press, and put in “lots of cease and desist letters to try to get quick payouts.”
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The media company — which owns the photo through the photographer who snapped it — is said to also be threatening to file two other complaints against Fox News. Instead, the person close to the case said settling it for the $220 AP license fee would be more fair. “That’s how this should be settled instead of this full-on court case,” the FNC insider insisted. “They’ve really declared war.”
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report. Here are the documents: