(CN) – Saying that his jurisdiction is in question, a federal judge in Denver has stayed 35 copyright infringement cases filed there by Righthaven over the use of a photo of a Transportation Security Administration officer performing an enhanced pat-down of a passenger at the Denver International Airport.
The photo, which originally ran in, and was copyrighted by, The Denver Post shows a TSA officer crouched before a male passenger, one hand on the passenger’s waist, while the other hand appears to be between the passenger’s legs at crotch level.
“Because there are serious questions as to whether my exercise of subject matter jurisdiction over Righthaven’s claim of copyright infringement is proper, I think it most prudent to stay the proceedings in all pending cases in this District in which Righthaven is the named Plaintiff,” U.S. Circuit Court Judge John L. Kane wrote in an order announcing the stay.
Kane went on to say that if he determines he does not have subject-matter jurisdiction, he would likely have to dismiss all of the cases before him.
Righthaven had filed a total of 57 suits in the district, though 21 were voluntarily dismissed and one has been settled. The remaining 35 are in various stages of litigation.
Nevada-based Righthaven has been labeled a “copyright troll” and a “litigation factory” by the Electronic Frontier Foundation for its practice of looking for potentially infringing material and then acquiring some controlling interest as an excuse to file lawsuits. Any settlements or awards it obtains are split with the original copyright holder.
Last month, a Las Vegas federal judge blasted Righthaven’s interest in one copyright as “nothing more than litigation driven.”
In the underlying Colorado suit, Righthaven asks both for statutory damages and control of the domain where the alleged copyright infringement occurred. The Electronic Frontier Foundation says this is a standard clause in all Righthaven suits.