That lawsuit, one of several filed on Friday, alleges that Curtis infringed copyright by reposting an article from the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Problem is, that article was itself based on an annual survey conducted by Curtis of ticket prices for entertainment shows.
Yes, Curtis went to the trouble of fielding a survey and then shared his findings with the newspaper, only to find himself sued for posting portions of the ensuing article on his own blog.
Just for added irony, the original Las Vegas Review-Journal piece about the survey described Curtis's annual undertaking as a "thankless task." "Once a year, Curtis delves into the thankless task of trying to pull an average ticket price," the April 22 article stated.
Now, Righthaven's overall strategy is problematic for many reasons: The company targets small publishers and bloggers who don't compete with the newspaper, or even monetize their sites with ads. Additionally, in some cases, the allegedly infringing posts hadn't received a single click before the lawsuit was filed.
Leaving aside the wisdom of the lawsuits, Righthaven might be able to argue in many cases that it has technically made out a valid claim of copyright infringement. Though some bloggers have said they thought their reposting of the articles was a "fair use," publishing a piece in its entirety can cross the line into infringement.
But if there's ever a situation where publishing an entire article (or the bulk of one) is fair use, Curtis's post of an article based on his own research should be it.
For his part, Curtis says he expects this "patently absurd" lawsuit will quickly disappear. "Hopefully this will be averted before I even make a call to my attorneys," he tells MediaPost.
Curtis shouldn't hold his breath. Righthaven CEO Steven Gibson tells MediaPost he's sticking to his guns. "We believe that the claim is rightfully made," he says.