Tuesday, March 8, 2011 | 5:06 p.m.
The owners of a Canadian newspaper website are among the latest to be sued by Las Vegas copyright enforcement company Righthaven LLC.
Righthaven is the copyright enforcement partner of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Denver Post.
Last week it filed five more lawsuits in federal court in Denver, all over a Denver Post TSA pat-down photo.
Among the latest defendants in one case are Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd., Metroland Media Group Ltd. and Torstar Corp.
That suit says the photo was posted without authorization on the thespec.com website, a website for the newspaper group's The Hamilton Spectator newspaper in Hamilton, Ontario.
Potentially complicating that case is that a court exhibit shows thespec.com credited the photo to The Associated Press, which has reported it distributed the photo to media outlets.
The photo ran alongside an AP story on the enhanced pat-downs of passengers, the exhibit shows.
(William Dean Singleton, chairman of the board of directors of The Associated Press, is also chairman and CEO of Denver Post owner MediaNews Group. The AP is a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members).
Messages for comment were left with The Hamilton Spectator and The Associated Press as to whether the newspaper’s website had authorization to post AP photos on the date of the alleged infringement — Nov. 21. That was two weeks before Righthaven’s copyright to the photo was registered by the U.S. Copyright Office on Dec. 8.
Brian Hill, a North Carolina blogger sued by Righthaven over the same photo, has told the Las Vegas Sun that he's also found the photo online credited to The Associated Press.
"I think this highlights the problem with Righthaven's overall strategy of sue first and ask questions later,'' said Hill's attorney, David Kerr in Fort Collins, Colo. "Many people may use the image in good faith and try to properly cite it back to the source, but that may not in fact be the true source. While they may be trying to follow the law as they understand it, the ability of a photo, for example, to `go viral' may make it impossible to know the work's original source. Righthaven is just the first to build a business model around this new digital reality.''
As usual, Righthaven demands in the Toronto Star Newspapers lawsuit $150,000 in damages and forfeiture of the thespec.com website domain name.
Also sued over the photo were:
— Skyword Inc., owner of the gather.com website; and Rose Castle, whom Righthaven says is a registered member of the website posting under the name "Bella Rose.'' Righthaven charges she "contributed an unauthorized copy of the photograph'' to the website.
``Skyword’s failure to institute any proactive policies intended to address the contributions by others of copyright-infringing content to the website constituted and constitutes Skyword’s willful blindness to the copyright infringements occurring on the website,'' the suit charges.
— Recommended Reading Inc.; officials there Christopher McGill and Nathaniel Collinsworth; and website poster David Sullivan. The suit says Sullivan, known as "gbudavid,'' posted the photo on Recommended Reading's site, mixx.com.
— Internet Business Center LLC, an official there, Clifford Hoelz; and Timothy Alexander. The suit says Alexander is listed as an author on the site island-adv.com and is known as "Lord Stirling'' there. The suit says Alexander posted the photo there.
— Pantheon Promotions Inc., registrant of the website domain name newsnet14.com; and a contributor to that site, Nathaniel Bacon, whom Righthaven claims posted the photo there.
A spokeswoman for gather.com said the company doesn't comment on lawsuits pending or filed. Messages for comment were left with the other website operators named in the lawsuits.
These five lawsuits lift to at least 42 the number of lawsuits Righthaven has filed over the photo — with 39 of the suits filed in Denver and three in Las Vegas.
Since March 2010, Righthaven has now filed at least 246 lawsuits over Review-Journal and Denver Post material.
Separately, a Righthaven lawsuit against Michael Nystrom was dismissed. Nystrom has a website about politician Ron Paul called www.dailypaul.com and was sued over a Review-Journal column. A federal judge dismissed the case last week after Righthaven failed to show Nystrom had been served with the Aug. 31 lawsuit.
Four more Righthaven suits were settled or closed under undisclosed terms. They were against defendants James Higgins, Richard Kwei, Odds On Recording Studios and Mt Rock Church.