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September 6, 2006 – As the five year anniversary of September 11th approaches, the City of New York is considering filing a lawsuit against former NYC police detective John Botte for photos in his book, "Aftermath: Unseen 9/11 Photos by a New York City Cop."
According to NYC law department counsel Gerald Singleton in a Reuters story, the photo copyrights belong to the city because police officer Botte was an employee of the city at the time. Singleton plans on filing suit this month.
Published by ReganBooks, the 200-page book contains hundreds of photos from Ground Zero after 9/11. Botte, using his Leica Rangefinder, photographed the ruins of the World Trade Center. According to city officials, Botte was on duty when the photos were taken. "It was done on government time. It’s the property of the government," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg according to ABC News.
Botte originally collaborated with former city police commissioner Bernard Kerik to take photos for Kerik’s autobiography, "The Lost Son: A Life in Pursuit of Justice," according to ABC News. Botte told ABC that he only used his own personal equipment to take the photos.
"The City is not trying to stop publication of the book," Singleton said. "The City is just interested in seeing that Botte does not profit personally from the publication of this book," he told Reuters.
Botte, who retired after lung sickness associated with Ground Zero ash, said that the project had put him financially behind and does not expect to make money from the book.
The first edition of the book "Aftermath" has been put into 30,000 print copies.