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Righthaven Sues For Control of Drudge Report Domain 161

Hugh Pickens writes "The Las Vegas Review Journal reports that in its latest case, Righthaven is seeking relief from copyright infringement by the Drudge Report website and by the Drudge Archives website, and is asking for a preliminary and permanent injunction against infringement on a photo copyright, control of the Drudge Report website and statutory damages up to $150,000. In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, Righthaven complains about the use of a Denver Post photograph of a Transportation Security Administration agent patting down an airline passenger. Drudge displayed an unauthorized reproduction of the photo on the Drudge Report website on Nov. 18, according to the civil complaint. Shawn Mangano, the attorney who filed the lawsuit on Righthaven's behalf, says it is the first time Righthaven has sued over use of a copyrighted illustration. Righthaven also takes issue with the fact that the Drudge Report has no DMCA takedown regime to respond to those who allege violations of copyright. 'I assume it's going to be very seriously litigated,' says Mangano, noting that Drudge has substantial financial resources." We've discussed previous attempts by Righthaven to turn a quick buck on news-related copyright.
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Righthaven Sues For Control of Drudge Report Domain

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  • Domain seizure? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Monday December 13, 2010 @02:18PM (#34536324)

    Do they really think transferring the domain into their control is even remotely likely? It's one thing when you're talking about a torrent tracker where an injunction alone is unlikely to prevent future infringement. But if the court tells Matt Drudge to take down that photo, I'm pretty sure he'll take it down (once his appeals are exhausted).

  • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Monday December 13, 2010 @02:24PM (#34536392)
    Lawyers love to make idle threats and request compensation that they know they have a snowball's chance in hell of actually collecting. It's a bargaining tactic. I'm sure nobody actually expects to have Druge's domain handed over to them, as much as some of us would like to see that happen.
  • by clone52431 ( 1805862 ) on Monday December 13, 2010 @02:27PM (#34536422)

    That’s their MO.

    Another recent case by them asked for the same thing: []

    Nelson put eight sentences of a 30-sentence Review Journal article in one of his posts, along with a link back to the paper; for this he was sued in federal court.

    Righthaven demanded that his domain name should be locked and transferred to Righthaven. In addition, the company demanded "willful" statutory damages for copyright infringement, which can be as high as $150,000.

    Also, what I don’t understand is this:

    Righthaven sends no cease-and-desist letters before suing.

    The DMCA is clear-cut about how to handle infringement. A company that side-steps the normal DMCA takedown process (which might have to be snail-mailed – that’s not quick enough for them though!) should have no right to straight away sue the infringing party. None whatsoever. But apparently they can, legally, get away with it.

  • Re:Holy Shit! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by skids ( 119237 ) on Monday December 13, 2010 @02:32PM (#34536492) Homepage

    IMO it was stupid to pick on Drudge. If they had brains, they would have picked on some anti-establishment podunk site, one whose rights a properly shopped judge would have no qualms about riding roughshod over, and kept doing it to build up layers of precedent, then tackled something bigger. Drudge may be unpopular among many but it still has a huge following and can draw on support from the right-wing astroturfing machine.

    However, from my perspective I get to watch two organizations I despise hurt each other, so life is grand. Sure in the end it just means more lawyers get to buy outside decks for their fourth homes, but hey, it beats watching high frequency traders cruise around in yachts.

  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Monday December 13, 2010 @02:36PM (#34536524)

    In most statutes, it's legally dangerous to even point a gun at a team of thieves who've parked a van in front of your house and who are systematically robbing you. Someone "steals" a picture that is probably worth a few hundred dollars and has no real value apart from the original story... $150k in possible statutory damages.

    This isn't a sign that we're sophisticated or advanced as a society. It says we're a bloody banana republic where the common man has no legally sure way to defend what is his, but some photographer or corporation can try to ruin your business over what should be a minor infraction (that they too often commit, just look at how often major bloggers are copied by big media outlets).

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday December 13, 2010 @02:38PM (#34536554) Homepage

    Drudge's page is mostly a directory of links with the occasional thumbnail picture. Google already won a case in which it was decided that thumbnail images in connection with a directory of links was a transformative use, and thus was considered fair use. Drudge is driving traffic to the newspaper that published the image, just as Google does.

    Drudge is going to win this, if Righthaven even litigates it, which is unlikely.

  • Re:Holy Shit! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 13, 2010 @02:38PM (#34536558)

    Why despise Drudge Report? All it does is post links to articles. Slashdot summaries are more biased than Drudge Report posts.

    And BTW, I knew I would see a lot of people on /. waiver in their anti copyright stance on this one.

  • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Monday December 13, 2010 @03:02PM (#34536806)

    Lawyers love to make idle threats and request compensation that they know they have a snowball's chance in hell of actually collecting.

    It's too bad there's no penalty for doing this.

    There no penalties for doing it, but there are penalties for not doing it. I was sued, and decided to fight it pro per (without a lawyer). I did some research while preparing my response to the complaint, and found out it is standard practice to list every possible defense, even when they don't apply, because if some other evidence some to light, you cannot add another defense later. So everyone includes pages and pages of standardized superfluous boilerplate. Lawyers recognize this stuff and just skim over it.

    Seems to me the court system would function better if there were less frivolous garbage clogging things up.

    Both lawyers and judges benefit from a clogged, inefficient system. Since 85% of politicians are also lawyers, there is little chance things will change.

  • Re:Domain seizure? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bhtooefr ( 649901 ) <> on Monday December 13, 2010 @03:27PM (#34537220) Homepage Journal

    There is actually a difference, though.

    This government, in theory, is of, by, and for the people. (Yes, I know, it's not a democracy, it's a republic.) Because the people pay taxes to the government, and vote politicians into office, and the government exists solely to serve the people, the people have a right to know how their taxes are being spent, what their politicians are doing, and what the government is doing for or against them.

    On the other hand, the people do not exist for the government. It's not the government's business what the people do, except when the people are employed by the government (and then only what they do on the clock,) when the people are using government services (in which case, the government has an obligation to make sure that the minimum of their services are required, to save the taxpayer money,) or when other people are being wronged, and the people have decided that that particular wrong should be addressed by the government.

    In summary: People have a right to know what their government is doing, government has no right to know what its people are doing other than what affects other people under the government. So, no, it's not hypocritical to say that the government shouldn't hide anything, yet the people can hide.

  • Re:Domain seizure? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chyeld ( 713439 ) <> on Monday December 13, 2010 @03:27PM (#34537222)

    MY business is not the government's business.

    However, the government's business is most definitely my business.

    That isn't hypocrisy, that's the realization that this isn't a symmetrical relationship.

  • by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <> on Monday December 13, 2010 @03:31PM (#34537314) Homepage Journal

    It's time for LVRJ to get what they've asked for: to be left alone. Completely. Utterly. Don't mention them, don't link to them, don't discuss them, don't acknowledge that they exist. Let that be the last $150,000 of income they ever collect. If they don't want publicity, respect their wishes and let them die off in a corner by themselves.

  • Re:Domain seizure? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Haeleth ( 414428 ) on Monday December 13, 2010 @06:51PM (#34540432) Journal

    And what natural law implies this? How about religious law? How about, oh, say, appealing to history and demonstrating that this is the norm for government/electorate relations?

    If you appeal to history, you will quickly conclude that the normal state of humanity is barbarism, with petty crimes punished by gruesome public execution, no freedom of speech, no freedom of religion, slavery commonplace, and the majority of people barely allowed to own property.

    If you want to base your dream society on historical observations, go right ahead. The rest of us will carry on believing in silly fantasies like "universal human rights" and the concept that the authority of government derives from the consent of the governed.

  • Re:Domain seizure? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Capsaicin ( 412918 ) * on Monday December 13, 2010 @11:10PM (#34542568)

    I predict once again that the prevailing opinion of /. will turn on a dime when the target is someone they don't like. wikileaks to politicians - "if you aren't dishonest you have nothing to worry about" = good government to citizens - "if you aren't dishonest you have nothing to worry about" = bad

    I know you are trying to argue the patriotic-statist line here, but in this case "the slashdot" (or the libertarian component thereof) is sagacious!"

    As a matter of observation, despite your abstract notions of fairness as reciprocity, there exist two extremes of relationships between states and their citizens in terms of privacy/openness. On the one hand you have authoritarian states in which government enjoys a great deal if secrecy (privacy) and the citizens have very little privacy to speak of. On the other hand where the citizens enjoy a measure of privacy, officials, in exercising the duties of government have hardly any privacy at all. Of course there exists neither a govt. that has a camera in every citizen's bedroom, nor one so transparent as to have no official secrets at all, and on this continuum there is a constant struggle by officials who having tasted power want to pry and to conceal, and citizens who wish to increase individual liberty at the expense of state power. And didn't Obama get elected, at least in part, on a promise of greater openness and transparency in government?

    Now you may be patriot who would sacrifice your liberty for the benefit of the state, that's your choice. But you have to understand that the desire for greater individual privacy and greater government transparency is neither hypocritical, nor contradictory. Quite the opposite, they are corollaries.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell