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FAMOUS FIREFIGHTER PHOTO

Pursuit of Copyright Infringements of the Famous Firefighters Photo by The Record and The Bravest Fund Raises $300,000 More for 9/11 Families August 2002

(Newstream) -- The Record, New Jersey's second largest newspaper, and The Bravest Fund on August 6 jointly issued a list of properly licensed products featuring the compelling photograph of the three FDNY firefighters raising the American flag at Ground Zero on Sept. 11. The Record, headquartered in Bergen County, NJ, holds the copyright to the famous Sept. 11 photo taken by its staff photographer, Thomas E. Franklin. The Bravest Fund is a charity established by the three firefighters in the photograph (George Johnson, Dan McWilliams, and Bill Eisengrein). Both entities issued the list to educate consumers interested in the photograph and to urge consumers to purchase only licensed products with that defining photo, since part of the licensing fees benefit their registered charities -- the North Jersey Media Group Disaster Relief Fund and The Bravest Fund.

According to Jennifer A. Borg, vice president and general counsel for North Jersey Media Group, which publishes The Record, "Consumers should buy only licensed products that have the correct copyright attribution." The attribution reads '© 2001, The Record (Bergen County, NJ),' and is followed by the statement: 'A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this product benefits the North Jersey Media Group Disaster Relief Fund and The Bravest Fund. For more information, go to www.GroundZeroSpirit.org and www.TheBravestFund.com.'"

"Unfortunately, in the months since Sept. 11, we've seen thousands of unauthorized products, ranging from billboards and posters to statues and pins, come on the market bearing this image," explained Borg. "While many people might simply assume that every product with the image benefits a worthy cause, most of these products are knock-offs that are manufactured and sold illegally, and do not benefit charities at all."

To date, The Record and The Bravest Fund have collected more than $300,000 from manufacturers of illegal items and have applied those funds toward the two charities. More than $600,000 has been recovered in royalties and settlements combined. In addition to proceeds from the photo, The Record has independently raised more than $1.3 million for the North Jersey Media Group Disaster Relief Fund, which has provided financial resources to organizations serving North Jersey families victimized by Sept. 11.

The Record is assisted in the legal pursuit of copyright violators by the firefighters' counsel, Bill Kelly of McCarthy & Kelly LLP of New York.

According to Kelly, "The firefighters are not happy that people are illegally profiteering off the image. These are brave and selfless men. We are using every legal means at our disposal, including litigation, to ensure that the dignity of this image is preserved. We're trying to raise public consciousness on the issues, encouraging people to buy only licensed products, and asking them to report any illegal products to our law firm."

Thousands of requests for product licenses have been painstakingly evaluated by both entities. Only those requests that meet several criteria are considered, including whether or not the proposed use will adhere to the dignity and principles depicted in the photograph, generate proceeds for the two charitable funds, and appeal to the widest consumer audiences. More than 40 products have been licensed to date. A complete list of these licensed products can be found on www.GroundZeroSpirit.org.

"The photo came to symbolize all the heroes involved in the rescue efforts, as well as the resolve of the American spirit. We have been vigilant from Day 1 to maintain its integrity and honor the image by carefully managing its use as much as possible," Borg explained.

Borg added, "In addition to commercial licenses, we have granted hundreds of requests by firefighters, other rescue personnel, nonprofit organizations, survivors, and families of the victims who want the photo for personal and/or their own fund-raising purposes. Fulfilling these requests continues to be our top priority, and we clearly grant them free of charge."

"Despite our relentless efforts, there are still thousands of illegal products out there that remain an affront to the image and to those it honors," said Borg. "Clearly, its use on promotional material for a strip club or cigarette lighter, for example, is not in keeping with its inherent dignity."

"We've received calls from all over the world reporting illegal knock offs of the image," stated Kelly. "I doubt if there has ever been an infringement of a copyright to this magnitude, which makes it very difficult to police. You can be sure that the street vendors out there selling this image are neither licensed nor donating a penny to charity. These are among the most difficult infringers to pursue. We urge people to not buy anything with the image from street vendors."

About GroundZeroSpirit.org charities

www.GroundZeroSpirit.org is a centralized site for information about the photo and the charitable funds supported by both The Record and the three firefighters featured in the photo.

The North Jersey Media Group Disaster Relief Fund was established on Sept. 11, 2001 to assist the more than 400 grieving families from northern New Jersey affected by the tragedy. The goal of the fund is to meet these families longer-term needs, including individual counseling and mental health support services for survivors, health insurance supplementation, day care support, educational assistance, and other critical needs. To make a tax-deductible donation, send checks payable to "North Jersey Media Group Disaster Relief Fund" to the attention of Jennifer Borg c/o The Record, 150 River Street, Hackensack, NJ 07601-7155. Tel: 201/646-4490.

The Bravest Fund is dedicated to benefiting firefighters, police officers, emergency service personnel, and their families. Founded by the three FDNY firefighters seen in the photo, the fund is dedicated to serving firefighters and police officers who suffered career-ending injuries or death and are not covered by existing benefit programs. Donations can be made to The Bravest Fund by credit card through www.TheBravestFund.com, or by check or money order to "The Bravest Fund" c/o William P. Kelly, Esq., McCarthy & Kelly LLP, Federal Plaza, 52 Duane Street, New York, N.Y. 10007. Tel: 212/732-6000.

All donations to North Jersey Media Group Disaster Relief Fund and The Bravest Fund are fully tax deductible.

About The Record

The Record, headquartered in Hackensack, NJ, is an award-winning daily newspaper serving northern New Jersey. It is New Jersey's largest family-owned newspaper and the flagship publication of North Jersey Media Group, a media company that includes the Herald News in Passaic County, 29 weekly newspapers, Internet services, monthly special-interest publications, and a commercial printing business.

 

Editor's Note: For more information about the charitable funds, Thomas Franklin, the photograph, licensing, or the list of licensed products, visit www.GroundZeroSpirit.org. Requests for licensing should be e-mailed to GroundZeroSpirit@northjersey.com.