Las Vegas Sun

March 30, 2015

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Four more copyright lawsuits filed over photo

Just as it’s a lightning rod for controversy, the Transportation Security Administration may turn into a litigation gold mine for Las Vegas newspaper copyright enforcement company Righthaven LLC.

Righthaven has been suing website operators and message-board posters over material allegedly posted online without authorization from the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Denver Post.

Four of its most recent copyright infringement lawsuits this week were over the same Nov. 18 Denver Post photo of a TSA officer patting down the inner thighs of a passenger at Denver International Airport.

This is the same photo Righthaven sued Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report over on Dec. 8.

Drudge has not yet answered that lawsuit and it’s unknown if he’s been served.

The latest to be sued this week over the photo allegedly showing up on their websites were:

• David Rozzell, allegedly the registrant of the site

• Shaquan Shamar Brown, whom Righthaven says is a Phoenix rapper known as Yung Face and has a website called, which calls itself the “#1 Online Hip Hop Magazine.”

• Michael L. Davis and Software Farm Inc., described as a Colorado company associated with the website

• Bear Den Holdings Inc. and Mike and Betsy Siino, associated with the website

The first three suits were filed in U.S. District Court in Colorado; the fourth case was filed in federal court in Las Vegas.

“Righthaven is the owner of the copyright in and to the photograph entitled: ‘TSA Agent performs enhanced pat-downs,’” Righthaven, in its boilerplate language, charges in these lawsuits.

Before suing over allegedly-infringed material, Righthaven obtains copyrights to that material from the Review-Journal and the Denver Post.

The new lawsuits alleged the defendants “willfully infringed upon Righthaven’s copyright, by copying the work (photo) on an unauthorized basis.”

Lawsuit exhibits show some of the websites sued by Righthaven are providing off-color commentary with the Denver Post photo, two for instance suggesting that passengers becoming sexually aroused during the patdowns face arrest by the TSA.

A third website included the large caption: “At least have the courtesy to buy me dinner and take me to a show first.”

As in all its recent lawsuits, Righthaven seeks damages of $150,000 apiece in these new suits as well as forfeiture of the defendants’ website domain names.

Davis and Software Farm Inc. could not be located for comment. Requests for comment were left with all the new defendants.

Mike Siino in Orchard Park, N.Y., said Friday that the first he had heard there was any concern about the photo on the grizzlymom website was when he was contacted by the Las Vegas Sun.

He said no one from Righthaven or the Denver Post had contacted him about the photo. He declined comment on the copyright infringement allegations.

Righthaven, which has filed at least 209 lawsuits since March, earlier sued a Google Groups message-board poster over an alleged infringement involving a Review-Journal column about TSA pat downs of the elderly and disabled at Reno-Tahoe International Airport.

Before that, Righthaven filed at least five lawsuits over a Review-Journal blog by then-Publisher Sherman Frederick.

Called “The TSA’s mini ‘Watch List,’” the blog complained about unionization by TSA workers and said the TSA was maintaining a list of “peeved travelers.”

Other recent items in the Review-Journal that resulted in multiple Righthaven lawsuits were the Vdara hotel “death ray” graphic and coverage of Las Vegas police shooting and killing an armed man at a Costco.

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  1. The only big paying jobs created in a Republican economy are for dung heap lawyers...get ready for more.

  2. Jon why don't you take a look at who is backing Harry Reid? Six of his top twenty campaign contributors are large out of state plaintiffs' law firms that specialize in just what you mention. Stop lying and do your research before you start typing.

    Lawyers/Law Firms $3,480,296 $3,146,097 $334,199
    Securities & Investment $1,168,508 $994,408 $174,100
    Real Estate $812,381 $706,905 $105,476
    Lobbyists $738,258 $715,574 $22,684
    Casinos/Gambling $706,450 $644,450 $62,000

  3. When Gibson started his lawsuitapalooza I warned Drudge. Just goes to show you that noone listens.

  4. Photos with humorous captions as a copyright violation? Did Righthaven never hear that parodies are within "fair use"? (Of course, if one's "business model" is to generate revenue by "settlements", then filing a lawsuit for almost anything will create nuisance enough to put money in the cash register.)

  5. You know what is so funny about the RJ I sent them a email two weeks ago asking about permission to use a picture on my blog even offered to buy a license for the picture and they have yet to get back to me.

    Here I am one person trying to do it right and they ignore me.

  6. el_diablo_loco...

    Sorry, man. That's NOT how this "business model" works!

    I wonder how Shermy is doing with his job search?
    Probably can't get anybody to write him a decent reference...
    His "body of work" will be a tough, tough sell, unless he wants to move to somwhere like Pocatello, Idaho.

  7. The LVRJ provides a link to share articles on Facebook, Google Buzz, AIM Share, Blogger Digg, My Space, MSN Messenger and Twitter. I have posted numerous thumbnail photos from their webiste along with a short comment to my Facebook page. I invite Righthaven to sue me.

  8. Wait until China takes over this country all of this sort of nonsense will cease.

  9. Acesbet...

    You're absolutely right about that. Moreover, it'll happen sooner rather than later.

  10. It's unlikely that Righthaven will have success with these lawsuits if they make it to court.

    Righthaven seems to be forgetting that photos used in news and editorial are not covered by copy-write. If the lawsuits go to court and win it would mean all the content that the media takes at will and all the images of other people's property, likenesses, and copy-write that they display and do not pay for claiming right of the free press would be null and void.

    In this lame effort to protect intellectual rights it is killing the golden goose that allows media to use whatever it wants in stories and editorial and not pay for it ever.

    I think the hope of Righthaven like that of many companies who make their money off of patent infringement is to scare the accused into paying up to avoid costly courts.

    Some people and companies will cave in and pay a settlement to avoid going to court. This is legal blackmail and strong-arming like a cheap street thug hitting up small businesses for protection money to the graft of Las Vegas and County officials who require "off the book fees" to ensure permits go through.

    It's just another way for the big guys to bully and steal from the small guys, the high profile attempts are just to get into the news so they get more bang out of the threats against little guys they hope will pay up.

    It's a shame and despicable. I suggest a boycott of the Sun and Denver Post until they stop this nonsense.

  11. The RJ published a photo of my daughter in a photo story last month. I emailed asking permission to use it and never heard one thing back.

    Needless to say I haven't saved it.

    On the other hand, the Sun photographer who came to take photos of me for a story was happy to send me copies of the photos he took of my dogs and which he later published.

    You can guess what I would like to say to the RJ.

  12. sun-jon,
    uh, this Righthaven / lawsuit thing has been going on before the Republicans got back in office this month. Maybe they can take a cue from the President and blame it on the "previous Congress"!
    (rightfully so).

  13. Gibson & Company are nothing more than Mafia Goons, "Frederick the Whack," "Single Arm Singleton" and "Garbage Dumper Gibson." It's a shame they were not picked up in the recent sweep by the feds. "Legal" blackmail is just as revolting as its illegal counterpart.