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August 21, 2014

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3 more copyright lawsuits filed over R-J ‘death ray’ illustration

Three more website operators were sued for alleged copyright infringement this week over the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Sept. 25 Vdara hotel “death ray” illustration.

Lawsuits were filed in U.S. District Court for Nevada against the websites by the Review-Journal’s copyright enforcement partner, Righthaven LLC.

The latest suits bring to at least 184 the number of copyright infringement suits Righthaven has filed since March, initially over Review-Journal material and lately over material from the Denver Post.

At least seven suits over the Vdara death ray illustration have been filed by Righthaven, which detects online copyright infringements, obtains copyrights to the allegedly infringed material and then sues the alleged infringers.

The Vdara illustration at issue in the copyright infringement lawsuits shows how the sun’s rays are focused by the hotel building on the swimming pool area.

The latest death ray defendants, all accused of posting the illustration on their websites without authorization, are:

• Carl Burrell and an entity called Flick & Tea, both associated with the website flickandtea.com.

• Daniel Barham and an entity called Urban Neighbourhood, both associated with the website urbanneighbourhood.com.

• Keith Combs, alleged owner of the website blog.technet.com/b/keithcombs, which is called “Keith Comb’s Blahg.”

The defendants “did not seek permission, in any manner, to reproduce, display, or otherwise exploit the work (illustration),” Righthaven charges in the lawsuits.

As usual, Righthaven in each of the lawsuits demands $150,000 in damages and forfeiture of the defendants’ website domain names to Righthaven.

Messages for comment were left with the latest defendants.

Earlier lawsuits over the death ray illustration were filed against Associated Newspapers Ltd. in London, owner of the website dailymail.co.uk; Threeall Inc., Yen Lee and P. Ling, allegedly associated with the website simplegreenchoices.com; Leighton Law P.A., a law firm with offices in Miami and Orlando, and managing partner John Leighton; and Carbon Athletics LLC and Cody Faeth, allegedly associated with the website themorningwoodnews.com.

Righthaven, in the meantime, was the source of national news coverage Thursday and Friday after word surfaced that it had sued Drudge Report operator Matt Drudge, alleging copyright infringement over a Denver Post photo.

Stories appeared on the websites of Editor & Publisher, Techdirt, Wired, Politico and Forbes, as well as regional publications.

Politico’s Ben Smith found it “remarkable” that Righthaven would demand $150,000 in damages and forfeiture of the drudgereport.com website domain name.

According to published estimates, the Drudge Report could be worth $10 million or more.

“As the Wild West of online copyright enforcement very, very slowly sorts itself out, a group that seems to be trying to enforce — or, depending on your point of view, abuse — the rights of the Denver Post to a photo has filed suit against the Drudge Report,” Smith wrote.

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  1. Someone needs to stop this Righthaven stuff. It's nice right what they do.

  2. The high profile cases are always fascinating to watch unfold. One can only hope the Matt Drudge case does not end in the same way as the Alex Jones case did -- a nonstarter -- just a quiet and confidential settlement agreement.

    What about Dana Eiser and the growing list of other bloggers and advocacy groups who do not operate multimillion dollar companies and who RJ columnist Vin Suprymowicz said, "should have their godd**ned hands cut off and nailed to the wall of City Hall." This is the real opinion of the Review-Journal and the Denver Post.

    Dana and those like her committed nothing more than a parking infraction (if that) and should be subjected to similar fines of no more than $30 dollars. While Righthaven sees dollars and assets with every new victim, the Review-Journal and Denver Post are differently troubling. They'd like to see a very minor infraction violently penalized, such as Suprymowicz expressed.

    If lock 'em up in jail and throw away the key were actually part of U.S. copyright law, you better believe the Review-Journal and Denver Post would be crusading for it. After all, it is "criminals" like Dana Eiser and Allegra Wong who are killing the bottom lines of U.S. newspapers (who Suprymowicz refers to as "small merchants on the verge of bankruptcy") through thievery and other unscrupulous acts.

  3. The RJ should go back to making money the old fashioned way: quality journalism. Ugh, yeah, raight, it's the RJ, that went out the window in 2000.

  4. As extreme as it may look or sound, the lawsuits are intended to protect the property of the rightful owner. I know many will not agree, but if the story is your story, then anyone using your story should follow the rules required to use your story. So far every court has agreed with Righthaven.

    On the larger picture this protected the small bloggers and news websites. Your property must be protected and the rules must be followed. The internet is far reaching with the majority of the users unidentified. It's good the courts are honoring basic copyright law.