Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011 | 2:05 a.m.
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 katypundit.com.
• Shaquan Shamar Brown, whom Righthaven says is a Phoenix rapper known as Yung Face and has a website called ILiveHipHop.com, 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 urban-lifestyle.mattters.com
• Bear Den Holdings Inc. and Mike and Betsy Siino, associated with the website grizzlymom.com.
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.