The Chronicle of Higher Education
Today's News
Friday, May 12, 2006

Original story at:

Stanford Professor Sues David Horowitz Over Use of His Photo


A professor of Middle Eastern history at Stanford University is suing David Horowitz for copyright infringement for publishing a pamphlet called "Campus Support for Terrorism" that featured the professor's photograph on its cover.

In the lawsuit, which was filed on April 3, the professor, Joel S. Beinin, says that he holds the copyright on the image, having secured it from the photographer after Mr. Horowitz's pamphlet went public in 2004. At no point, he says, did Mr. Horowitz ask permission to use the photograph.

Mr. Horowitz called the lawsuit "sheer harassment" and said that in using the photo, which he took from Mr. Beinin's Stanford Web page, he was exercising fair use.

The lawsuit is the latest development in a long-standing contentious relationship between the two men. Mr. Horowitz has long accused Mr. Beinin of being an apologist for terrorist groups in the Middle East. Mr. Beinin, a former president of the Middle East Studies Association of North America, denies this.

"I am not a supporter of terrorism," Mr. Beinin said. "I'm on the written record saying that attacks against civilians are indefensible."

The original cover of the pamphlet, which has been pulled from Mr. Horowitz's Web sites, placed Mr. Beinin's image alongside those of Rachel Corrie, a student activist who was killed in 2003 during an anti-Israel protest in Gaza; Sami Al-Arian, a former Florida computer-engineering professor who recently pleaded guilty to providing services to a terrorist group; and Lynne Stewart, a New York defense lawyer who was convicted of helping one of her clients transmit messages to terrorist cells in the Middle East.

Mr. Beinin and Mr. Horowitz each said he found the other's conduct ironic in light of his supposed political commitments.

Mr. Beinin said he thought it was strange "that a big supporter of property rights and the free market felt that it was OK to use my property."

Mr. Horowitz, meanwhile, said he thought Mr. Beinin's lawsuit undermined the arguments of liberal professors who argue that Mr. Horowitz's "academic bill of rights" is an attempt to chill free speech in the classroom.

"If you want to see a way to chill expression, this is it," Mr. Horowitz said. "Instead of an intellectual discussion, he's gone to court."

Though Mr. Beinin said that his lawsuit does fall into the "broader context" of Mr. Horowitz's "concerted effort to intimidate academics who criticize the Bush administration," he said the suit itself is a simple matter of private property.

"I don't see why asking him to desist from using my intellectual property is chilling his speech," said Mr. Beinin.

The professor said that he sent a fax to Mr. Horowitz two weeks before filing the lawsuit, asking him to stop using the photograph. Mr. Horowitz said he never received such a fax.