Drudge Report Sued By Copyright Enforcer Righthaven

Copyright enforcement company Righthaven is going after its biggest target yet-widely read news aggregator The Drudge Report. Righthaven is suing over a photograph The Drudge Report posted that originally was published in the Denver Post. That newspaper is owned by the MediaNews Group, which Righthaven started working with earlier this month.

Righthaven has become controversial for its sue-first style of copyright enforcement. The company is owned by Stephens Media, which owns the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and Las Vegas lawyer Steve Gibson. It has filed close to 200 lawsuits since March, aimed at websites that have copied the contents of its newspaper industry clients without permission. While the first batch of suits was almost entirely based on content from the Review-Journal, Righthaven filed its first lawsuit based on a MediaNews article last week, when it sued over an unauthorized reproduction of a Denver Post column.

The photo in question is a picture of a TSA agent frisking a person going through airport security, and was published Nov. 18 together with a headline reading: TSA XXX: AIRPORT WANTS ‘OPT OUT’. Matt Drudge is named personally in the lawsuit, along with DrudgeReportArchives.com, which has been making copies of Drudge Report’s front page numerous times during the day since 2001.

In the lawsuit against The Drudge Report, Righthaven is asking for damages for willful copyright infringement, which can range up to $150,000. It’s also asking for The Drudge Report‘s domain name to be handed over to it, a standard demand in Righthaven lawsuits but one that has been challenged by the Electronic Frontier Foundation in another case. The request for domain transfer in this case is particularly striking because of the value of the high-traffic Drudge Report site.