back to article Copyright troll sues for ownership of Drudge Report domain

A copyright enforcer that's filed more than 180 complaints against websites for quoting all or parts of newspaper articles is suing for ownership of the Drudge Report's domain. In a federal lawsuit filed on Wednesday, Righthaven sued the venerable gossip website for posting a picture originally published by The Denver Post. In …


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  1. Tasogare

    Strange means.

    I find it interesting that they're suing for control of the domain rather than some unspecified and undoubtedly extortionate amount of money.

    Or are they actually going after both?

    1. Daniel Evans


      At a guess, their logic assumes one of the following:

      a) They get the domain name, and going by the fact that Drudge is meant to be a "popular website" (no, I'd never heard of it either), either the owners will pay $Extortionate to get it back, or someone else will.

      b) They win, but the actual sentence handed down specifies they are owed $Extortionate by Drudge.

      c) Drudge settle out of court for $Extortionate.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ Daniel Evans

        Cast your mind back a couple of US governments: the story about Clinton's lack of sexual relations with that Lewinsky woman was first broken by Drudge.

        He's also best buddies with noted right-wing whackjobs Anne Coulter and Rush Limbaugh.

    2. Ian Michael Gumby

      It means the lawyers are getting smart.

      The lawyers realize that the domain name is in fact an asset of the company. So when a US corporation gets sued, if the domain name is controlled by a non-us registrar, the non-us registrar doesn't have to abide by a US court ruling and it forces the person suing the company to then file another lawsuit in a different country to get the domain name back under their control.

      Sort of hiding an asset in plain sight.

  2. Yes Me Silver badge


    > I find it interesting that they're suing for control of the domain

    I find it disgusting. What is wrong with US laws that they can actually find a lawyer who can twist reality and ethics enough to draft such a suit? seems to be available. I suppose the Archtroll is waiting for someone to start using it, so that they can sue them.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Domain Name: RIGHTHAVEN.COM

      Registrar: GODADDY.COM, INC.

      Whois Server:

      Referral URL:

      Name Server: NS39.DOMAINCONTROL.COM

      Name Server: NS40.DOMAINCONTROL.COM

      Status: clientDeleteProhibited

      Status: clientRenewProhibited

      Status: clientTransferProhibited

      Status: clientUpdateProhibited

      Updated Date: 26-oct-2009

      Creation Date: 26-oct-2009

      Expiration Date: 26-oct-2011

    2. Geoff Campbell

      " find a lawyer who can twist reality and ethics enough to draft such a suit?"

      That's what lawyers *do*. And has been since the first lawyer crawled out of the slime.

      Consider, if court cases were about ultimate truth and fairness, why would we need lawyers at all?


    3. Tom 13

      It's Harry Reid's backyard. What the hell did you expect?

      Honesty and fair play? Please buy a clue.

  3. Goat Jam


    Have these arseholes actually won in any of their previous trolling attempts?

    1. Tom 13

      @Goat Jam

      I don't think so but it wouldn't surprise me if they had.

      The expense of hiring a lawyer to defend yourself is almost as onerous as losing the case itself. Fire a letter at a barely surviving company and you might get instant cash. Figure $20,000 to defend yourself if you can get it dismissed before you get to court and that's for a simple case. If you can settle for $10,000 without admitting fault you save yourself $10,000. If it goes to court the sky's the limit on fees.

      Copyrights and Trademarks fall under IP laws, and IP lawyers are expensive. Dollar figures are rough numbers from a few years back when I sat on a non-profit board that had to hire lawyers to sue for actual trademark infringement, but the costs are the same on the defense side.

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Oninoshiko


      This is a copyright troll, no patents are involved.

  5. Lance 3


    I'm sure Viacom is looking at this closely in regards to YouTube.

    A court won't go along with what he is asking for. They have no right to the domain and I can't see ICAAN agreeing to it either.

    1. blackworx


      Is that James Caan's private Bulletproof DNS service?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hey Judges...

    This would be a good time to set some nice precedents!

  7. ratfox Silver badge


    I hope they are finally made to pay the fees of the other party. They obviously will not stop until then.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    but it's December 10th, not April 1st?

    are they seriously taking the p*ss? Suing for control of something they have no rights to, over the re-publication of an image to which they have no moral rights (did a Righthaven employee take the pic?): alternatively, is it possible the legal system in question is so fubar'd that this is even to be given a hearing? I'd also just like to point out: just went to a page full of ads for InjuryLawyers4U,, and assorted other ambulance chasing shysters. Notable for it's absence was any link to a page warning about trolls.

    On the other hand:

    Wikileaks, meet Righthaven. Righthaven, this is Wikileaks.

    Now THAT could be fun to watch ;-)

  9. Arctic fox

    Patent Law....... the US is patently broken. I am not suggesting BTW that it is perfect in Europe (that would be a ridiculous assertion) however, the American system in this area appears to fail to protect genuine intellectual property rights whilst at the same time provides a huge number of opportunities for legalised bullying and trolling that contribute nothing to the US economy. On the contrary the system as practiced "over there" is actually damaging to America's interests as a nation. This kind of vexatious litigation ought to be thrown out by the judge of the first instance as a matter of course with full legal costs being awarded to the defendant, only then would Trollcorp think again.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      @Artic fox...

      ...please point out the patents they are suing over, I'm struggling.

      Oh you mean copyright infringement.

      1. David 105

        Seriously, you want a title EVERY time?

        I may have misread the article, but I find it amazing that they can sue for copyright infringement of copyright they didn't actually own at the time it was reposted. How can THAT be allowed?

        1. Tom 13

          Technically the damage travels with the intellectual property.

          If there was actual damage to the property and you purchase the property, you should be able to collect on the damages. The catch is whether or not there were actual damages BEFORE the property was transferred.

          That being said, even with the fucked up laws we have here in the US, I don't think the courts are going to abide claims that damages are incurred when the new owner has changed the rules on reprint permissions. It smacks too much of ex post facto. What bothers me is that they didn't throw the book at the bad faith lawyers the first time around.

      2. Arctic fox

        @Lost all faith You are quite right.....

        ................I wrote my post a little too fast being on my way out the door at the time. What I meant was the protection of intellectual property rights in general - which I am sure you would agree covers both copyright _and_ patent rights.

  10. DrXym Silver badge

    Much as I hate Drudge

    I hope they these trolls exactly where they can stick their stupid lawsuit.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Read between the lines...

    I would postulate that it's an attack on Drudge since the site has been rather instrumental in the fight against TSA tyranny, i.e. naked body scanners and the infamous gropedown. That's probably why they want the domain.

  12. ShaggyDoggy

    Re: Read between the lines

    Ah, so Righthaven is actually a CIA / NSA thing. Figures.

    1. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

      CIA Money probably involved

      They, the NWO are determined to get their shit to stick. The use of the body scanners is a farce if it's about stopping terrorists but makes perfect sense if it's about persecuting ordinary people and beating any fight out of them.

  13. Ian Michael Gumby

    Does anyone actually read the article?

    The basis for the lawsuit is the following...

    A newspaper prints a story and photo in the paper and online.

    Drudge prints their article and includes the photo... taken from the Reg's article:

    -=- and included the picture of a Transportation Security Administration official administering an enhanced pat down under headlines that included “TSA XXX: Airport wants 'opt out.'” The photo originally ran that same day in The Denver Post.


    So this company buys the rights to the photo and sues Drudge for copyright infringement.

    Its a slam dunk lawsuit because they used the photo without permission. Its the same thing as if you took a photo, published it on your website and you didn't state that it was published under collective commons. Someone grabs your photo like Levis and uses it in a public ad campaign without compensating you for its use. (My example is based on a real life example btw).

    Putting politics aside, its a money maker for lawyers. You find a national media outlet. You see some online site using the same photos. You call up to see if the site got permission to reprint the copywritten photo. They didn't? You buy the rights to the photo and sue the carp out of the site.

    The reason they lock down the registrar is that if the site, in this case Drudge decides to let the plaintiff win by default, the domain name is an asset and can be transferred to the plaintiff. So either Drudge settles, or they risk losing their domain name.

    Now being trolls that they are, they sometimes go too far. Quoting a portion of an article and citing reference to the article is protected. And this is not what Drudge is being accused of doing. So like it or not... Drudge is on the short end of the stick.

    1. Steven Knox

      Close but no cigar

      You say they used the photo without permission, but nothing in the article explicitly states that. Given Righthaven's previous behavior, it's possible (although by no means given) that Drudge did get permission to use the photo. All I'm saying is that that fact has not been established.

      Furthermore, in general when you buy rights, your rights are effective the day you bought them, and you can't sue for prior infringements. (Otherwise, you could technically buy the rights to a photo and then sue the person who originally took it!) It's different if you're contracting to represent the original rightsholders or those who held the rights at the time of infringement.

      So it's nowehere near as simple as you make it out to be.

      1. Battsman

        RE: Close but no cigar

        Hmmm, I went and read the referenced article and you are right that the article doesn't explicitly say that drudge used the photo without permission, but I think it would be a reasonable assumption based on all other quotations of statements made by Righthaven.

        With regard to your statement that one's rights to a picture are effective only the day you bought it - I'm not 100% certain that is actually all true - if a business acquires another business they can sue for rights infringements that occured to the purchased business prior to the purchase. I have a feeling that the terms of the agreement between the Denver papers owning company and Righthaven including ALL rights to the images with a right of use granted indefinitely back to the Denver paper - thus they likely do have retroactive rights.

        However, let's assume Righthaven didn't get retroactive rights... Since Druge and/or DrudgeArchives were displaying the image at the time of purchase (and assuming no form of usage license had been granted by Denver previously) then Drudge, et. al. were immediately in violation of RightHaven's copyright at that moment.

        To be clear, if they didn't have permission to reprint, they were in violation of the copyright from the moment of first publishing - it is just that the original copyright holder didn't file suit. That doens't make it non violation of copyright - rather just uninforced violation Also, i'm pretty sure that copyright law does not require the provision of a take-down notice - many rights holders chose to notify violators without filing suit, but that isn't a requirement.

        (I'm not defending RightHaven here - I think they are more than likely schmucks. However, it isn't illegal to be a schmuck and it doesn't mean they wouldn't win in court).

      2. Ian Michael Gumby

        @Steven Knox


        Unlike print media, Online the Infringement continues past the initial infringement.

        So today, if you can still access the article and the photo, the infringement exists.

        IANAL, and I don't know what the courts will do, however, the basic gist of the complaint holds enough merit that the case can and will go forward.

        In addition, Drudge's act was in fact an intentional breach of copyright violation.

        As I said, Drudge is definitely in the wrong,

        1. Goat Jam

          As I said, Drudge is definitely in the wrong,

          Well, that is debatable, but let's just say for the sake of the argument that you are right and they did use the picture without permission.

          Is that a significant enough copyright infringement to justify demanding ownership of Drudges entire business, which is effectively what these tossers are demanding?

  14. copsewood

    extreme copyright enforcement

    Excessive enforcement brings excessive copyright into greater public disrepute and this outcome is welcome.

    I suspect this bunch of lawyers are likely to get some comeuppance in any sane court because they are doing nothing to try to mitigate the claimed damages prior to going to court i.e. sending takedown notices, or attempting to settle for reasonable damages out of court. Sane judges are likely to take into account that they only bought the rights because they found these being technically abused.

    But not all courts are sane, and copyright law, the excessive duration of copyrights and repressive laws concerning copyright protection measures (search term: DMCA) all need to be exposed for the failure of a generation of politicians to ensure that copyrights are limited to a level that benefits everyone, rather than the current system which sacrifices everyone's interests for the benefit of a few :

  15. D. M

    lawyer wins

    Another example of why US legal system is broken beyond all hope. The only winner as always, is the lawyer.

  16. Hud Dunlap

    Drudge is not a gossip site

    It is an aggregator site. Rarely does it publish anything new on it's own. Conservative leaning yes, which seems to be a crime in the eyes of The Register and most of it's readers.

    Quit editorializing your stories.

    1. Ken 16 Silver badge

      Quit editorializing your stories

      You're just an aggregator site too, leave editorialising to real journalists!

  17. Rattus Rattus

    I don't care what the outcome is...

    No matter who wins, a complete bastard is going to lose.

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