Matt Drudge settles Righthaven copyright lawsuit

Matt Drudge of the Drudge Report will likely keep his valuable website domain name after settling a newspaper copyright infringement lawsuit filed by Righthaven LLC of Las Vegas.

Righthaven, which sues over allegedly unauthorized posts of Las Vegas Review-Journal and Denver Post material, sued Drudge Dec. 8 in U.S. District Court for Nevada, charging a Denver Post “enhanced TSA pat-down photo” was displayed on the Drudge Report website without authorization.

Righthaven later sued 33 more website operators over the same photo in federal courts in Nevada and Colorado.

As in most of its recent lawsuits, Righthaven sought in its complaint against Drudge damages of $150,000 and forfeiture to Righthaven of the and website domain names.

Drudge has not responded to requests for comment on the lawsuit, and documents filed in court by Righthaven on Tuesday show the case has been settled. Neither Drudge nor his attorneys ever filed papers in court answering the complaint.

“Righthaven and defendants have agreed to settle the matter by a written agreement,” Righthaven said in a court filing closing the case.

Righthaven typically settles its lawsuits for less than five figures and allows defendants to keep their domain names.

Defense attorneys and critics say Righthaven's standard lawsuit demand for forfeiture of domain names has no basis in U.S. copyright law and is included in the lawsuits to pressure defendants to settle.

Righthaven, however, says these demands are appropriate as a matter of equity.

Observers noted the Drudge Report domain name is worth $10 million or more — many multiples of the maximum damages Righthaven sought, $150,000.

Drudge is probably the highest-profile defendant sued by Righthaven, which has sued defendants ranging from unknown Boston cat blogger Allegra Wong to well-known individuals and groups such as former Nevada U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle, white supremacist David Duke and the Democratic Party of Nevada.

In all, Righthaven has filed at least 238 lawsuits since March.