Publisher Sued For Reposting Article Based On His Own Research

Copyright enforcement outfit Righthaven has filed some questionable lawsuits in the past, but really outdid itself in a case against Anthony Curtis, publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor.

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.

6 comments about "Publisher Sued For Reposting Article Based On His Own Research".
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  1. Jane Bowlin-burt from Port-A-Cool, LLC, June 28, 2010 at 5:33 p.m.

    Don't you think that re-posting on a social network or blog with a link back to the original article should be considered "viral" and not an infringement? As long as the source is quoted and acknowledged with a link and text, why would anyone in their right mind complain about assistance in bringing more readers into their site? I'm baffled!

  2. Dan Mckillen from HealthDay, June 28, 2010 at 5:55 p.m.

    Daily Online Examiner seems to always take the position that content should be free and bloggers should be able to violate everyone's copyright as long as they link back to the source. What nonsense.

    If 2,000 bloggers did this with one copyrighted article, and each blogger had a thousand loyal readers, you would have 2 million people reading this article, or significant portions of it, on blogs. Maybe 10% would actually follow the link and read the entire article on the site whose owners paid the writers and editors for the work. Where is the fairness here?

    Anthony Curtis should have made a deal with the Las Vegas Review Journal - "I'll share my research with you if you asllow me to post the article you write about it on my website." There's no evidence that Mr. Curtis (a publisher himself) made a deal like this. Is he now going to claim ignorance like the other blogger pirates do?

    Good for Righthaven. Someone has to stand up and say enough already!

  3. Chuck Lantz from, network, June 28, 2010 at 11:14 p.m.

    Dan McKillen's comment highlights the central problem with suits such as this. He guesses that "2,000 bloggers" might publish an article, leading to "2 million people reading the article". The facts in Curtis's case clearly show that NO ONE read his reprint of the article. Guessing does no one any good.

    Additionally, Mr. Curtis posted an article that was clearly written about his own work, ... work that had a de facto copyright.

    Maybe we can carry this absurd case one more step and suggest that Mr. Curtis sue Mr. McKillen for even mentioning Mr. Curtis's work in passing? I'll be more than glad to appear as a witness on the latter's behalf.

  4. Dan Mckillen from HealthDay, June 29, 2010 at 6:53 p.m.

    Note to Chuck Lance -

    You say "The facts in Curtis's case clearly show that NO ONE read his reprint of the article." I suggest you the article one more time. It says:
    "Additionally, in some cases, the allegedly infringing posts hadn't received a single click before the lawsuit was filed." This comment was not made specifically about Curtis case, just in general.

    With you as one of Curtis' witnesses, he will probably write his next blog from his prison cell.

  5. Rob N. from None, July 14, 2010 at 3:10 p.m.

    Worrying about how many people did or did not read the article on Mr. Curtis' site is a red-herring argument.

    The problem is this: Even if NO ONE reads the article, the duplication of text on another site can cause search engines like Google to devalue the Review Journal's content. Google, more often than not, will show the blog copy rather than the Review Journal's original article in its search results.

    Google might also decide that it will lower the ranking (or remove completely) other articles appearing on the Review Journal.

    Therefore, this is where the real issue lies. Since Google won't fix its problem in determining the original source of a document, then everyone should be concerned when their content is copied and posted somewhere else.

    Yes, it sucks that Mr. Curtis provided data to the paper, but that doesn't mean he has write to republish the article that the Review-Journal paid someone to write.

    He can link to the article. He can write his own article. But he can't just swipe the article from the Review Journal.

  6. John Adams from None, August 30, 2010 at 7:55 p.m.

    "Rob Nance from Righthaven"

    Don't even try to justify this. And do you really beleave your own BS you shovel?
    You and your Righthaven copy are nothing short of scammers.
    You have no interest in protecting Copyrights, and yet more importantly for what they stand for.

    Admit it, it's all for profit.
    You are abusing Copyright law to scam/extort money out of people.
    Plane and simple.

    f it looks like scam, smells like scam, and feels like scam.., it's scam.

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