TSA pat-down’ photo draws more Righthaven copyright lawsuits

Operators of a website called thoushaltnotsteel.com are among the latest to be hit with a Righthaven LLC lawsuit alleging copyright infringement.

Las Vegas-based Righthaven LLC sues alleged copyright-infringing website operators and message-board posters in partnerships with the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Denver Post.

Since March, at least 229 lawsuits have been filed in a campaign the then-publisher of the Review-Journal said was targeting copyright thieves.

Jason Chrystal and Justus Steel, whom Righthaven says run the thoushaltnotsteel.com site, are defendants in one of four new Righthaven cases in U.S. District Court in Colorado.

In all four cases, the website operators are accused of displaying the same Denver Post "TSA enhanced pat-down" photo on their websites.

"The defendants did not seek permission, in any manner, to reproduce, display, or otherwise exploit the work (photo)," Righthaven says in the lawsuits. "The defendants were not granted permission, in any manner, to reproduce, display, or otherwise exploit the work."

Also sued over the photo were:

--Pajamas Media Inc., registrant of the website pajamasmedia.com; and Bryan Preston, identified as its Austin editor, a columnist and contributor.

--Green Celebrity Network and Kristi Davis, registrant of the website greencelebrity.net; and Doug Mead, a columnist and contributor.

--Eric Calouro and his Erictric Media Group, registrant of the website erictric.com.

Calouro on Monday said an inquiry from the Las Vegas Sun was the first he had heard about the lawsuit.

"It's ridiculous. We were never contacted about this," he said.

Messages for comment were left with the thoushaltnotsteel.com operators and Pajamas Media. Officials at the Green Celebrity Network could not be reached for comment.

Separately, Brian D. Hill of the North Carolina-based website uswgo.com., who was sued over the same photo last week by Righthaven, denied the copyright infringement allegations against him.

"This lawsuit is out of line. I did not blatantly commit a copyright infringement. If they would have sent me a request to take down the photo, I would have done that and I would apologize," Hill said.

"I am going to win this case. The Denver Post has all these things saying you can share their articles and you can print their articles and share their photo album. They encourage people to share and then they sue people over that," Hill said.

The Denver Post online copyright notice says, in part, "fair use of our content restricts those who want to reference it to reproduce no more than a headline and up to a couple of paragraphs or a summary of the story. (We also request users provide a link to the entire work on our website)."

"The fair use rule generally does not entitle users to display the whole story or photograph on their website. To do so is a violation of our copyright and we will use all legal remedies available to address these infringements," the notice says.

Righthaven lately has been demanding $150,000 in damages and forfeiture of the defendant website in each of its lawsuits.