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In lawsuit, Drudge accused of using illustration illegally

Righthaven LLC, the Las Vegas company that has been filing lawsuits over copyright infringement of articles on newspaper websites, is expanding into infringement of newspaper illustrations with a lawsuit against conservative news aggregator Matt Drudge and his business.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, Righthaven complains about the use of 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.

An exhibit to the lawsuit shows the photograph and a related story from a denverpost.com, the website of the similarly named Colorado newspaper. The Denver Post is owned by William Dean Singleton’s MediaNews Group.

Shawn Mangano, the attorney who filed the lawsuit on Righthaven’s behalf, said it is the first time Righthaven has sued over use of a copyrighted illustration.

Mangano compared the lawsuit to another “high-profile case” against Sharron Angle, the unsuccessful Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate. The lawsuit against Angle was dismissed in November after Righthaven and Angle reached an undisclosed settlement.

Drudge didn’t respond to an e-mail sent to the Drudge Report website Thursday afternoon.

“I assume it’s going to be very seriously litigated,” Mangano said, noting that Drudge has substantial financial resources.

Drudge and drudgereportarchives.com are the defendants.

Mangano said case shows that Righthaven is pursuing defendants in copyright infringement cases based on merit, rather than the defendant’s political views.

“If a right-wing or left-wing organization were to go infringe on a copyright owned by Righthaven, they are going to get probably sued,” Mangano said.

Other defendants in Righthaven cases include the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, Democratic Underground, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, a union and the Hawaiian Tourism Association.

In March, Righthaven began suing individuals, companies and organizations over use of copyrighted newspaper articles that Righthaven purchased from the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Mangano said he didn’t know how many lawsuits Righthaven has filed over alleged copyright infringement since last spring, but the Las Vegas Sun has reported the total is 181.

Many of the lawsuits stemmed from allegations of copyright infringement of articles that the Las Vegas Review-Journal posted on its website and that Righthaven purchased.

In the latest case, Righthaven seeks relief from copyright infringement by the Drudge Report website and by the Drudge Archives website. The plaintiff asked for a preliminary and permanent injunction against infringement on the photo copyright, control of the Drudge Report website and statutory damages up to $150,000.

Contact reporter John G. Edwards at
jedwards@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0420.

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