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Saturday, April 13, 2024 | Back issues
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9/11 Photographer Brings Copyright Suit to CBS

(CN) - CBS, Paramount and other media titans are using copyrighted photos of the World Trade Center from Sept. 11, 2001, without permission, a federal complaint alleges.

Anthony Fioranelli filed the complaint Monday against CBS Broadcasting, BBC Worldwide Americas, and 14 other television companies in Manhattan.

Fioranelli, a photographer, says that he was one of four reporters allowed into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11.

"At the time of and shortly thereafter the destruction of the Twin Towers at risk of life and limb, plaintiff has created a photographic memory of the events of 9/11 for posterity," the complaint states.

He has allegedly registered copyrights on the photos he took on 9/11, and made a documentary with his footage taken that day.

Fioranelli also offered CBS the one-time use of his work for a 2002 news show, he says.

But without telling him, "CBS began an extensive program of sublicensing plaintiff's work to at least 15 companies (other defendants herein) and to well-known television broadcasting outlets through such sublicensees, such as Netflix, the Smithsonian Channel, the British Broadcasting Company and many others," the complaint states.

Fioranelli claims his copyrighted work has been used in numerous television productions, including "9/11 The Day that Changed the World," a Brook Lapping Productions documentary distributed by the Smithsonian Channel. The complaint also cites the BBC's "Conspiracy Files 9/11"; Testimony Films' "The Miracle of Stairwell B," "The Miracle Survivor," and "Crime Scene 9-11"; RTW Productions' "Rush to War"; and Paramount Pictures' "World Trade Center."

Last year, CBS allegedly acknowledged that its sublicensing program was illegal, and "attempted to stop all further uses by such sublicensees and their retailers from that time forward," the complaint states.

"Negotiations with CBS by plaintiff reveal that some, perhaps all, of such future use has been terminated," Fioranelli says. "But that is unclear."

What is clear is that neither CBS nor any other defendant has paid Fioranelli for the use of his work, despite the substantial profits made by their productions, he claims.

Fioarnelli seeks punitive damages for copyright infringement, false advertising, breach of contract and other counts.

He is represented by Maxim Waldbaum with Eaton & Van Winkle.

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