Saturday, July 24, 2010

Stephens Media LLC, RightHaven LLC, and Bloggers

On Thursday of this week, Clayton Cramer, blogger, historian, software engineer, and gun rights activist,  announced that one of his blogs, The Armed Citizen, was being sued by RightHaven LLC for copyright infringement. In response, he closed down that blog and his personal blog.

Sebastian at Snowflakes in Hell has covered this quite extensively. He has stories here, here, here,and here. Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit, has put up stories about it as well. Copyright lawyer Ron Coleman has an interesting analysis on his blog Likelihood of Confusion. In the comments section are a few comments from Clayton Cramer with more details on the case.

Wired Magazine has an extensive story about RightHaven LLC and their "business" plan. In an interview with RightHaven's CEO, Steve Gibson, his business plan is to buy the copyrights to newspaper content and then turn around and sue bloggers for copyright infringement. The article says that,
Gibson’s vision is to monetize news content on the backend, by scouring the internet for infringing copies of his client’s articles, then suing and relying on the harsh penalties in the Copyright Act — up to $150,000 for a single infringement — to compel quick settlements. Since Righthaven’s formation in March, the company has filed at least 80 federal lawsuits against website operators and individual bloggers who’ve re-posted articles from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, his first client.

Now he’s talking expansion. The Review-Journal’s publisher, Stephens Media in Las Vegas, runs over 70 other newspapers in nine states, and Gibson says he already has an agreement to expand his practice to cover those properties. (Stephens Media declined comment, and referred inquiries to Gibson.) Hundreds of lawsuits, he says, are already in the works by year’s end. “We perceive there to be millions, if not billions, of infringements out there,” he says.
There were many interesting comments to this article in Wired. One was from a former employee who said, "I used to work for this guy. In my opinion he is a legal opportunist and a sociopath. And also in my opinion all the comments prior to mine are accurate descriptions of his moral character, or lack thereof." Another comment was from an attorney which I found very interesting.
Steve Gibson, according to another Las Vegas attorney, has been “working on” developing Righthaven for years. Why? As I understand it from those who practice in intellectual property because there’s an automatic attorney’s fee provision in the copyright statutes. So, Steve Gibson has become a “douchebag” and a pariah and a bottom feeder and a stain on the profession, but he will also become very wealthy for doing very little. There’s lots of other professions that should be culled because their members take care of themselves and their pocket books at the expense of the greater community. For what it’s worth, I also understand from intellectual property attorneys in Las Vegas that Steve Gibson was a total “douchebag” well before he concocted Righthaven. So, if you want to stop these “nuisance” law suits (and that is truly what they are), and keep the likes of Steve Gibson from lining their wallets, petition your federal delegation to update the copyright statutes to: 1) mandate a “take down” letter before any lawsuit can be filed, with penalties attached to plaintiffs who file before doing so; and 2) delete the automatic entitlement to attorney’s fees. In the meantime, quit cutting and pasting and you will prevent Steve Gibson from earning additional money to get rid of that second chin.
Now that we know who is RightHaven LLC and their business model, just who is Stephens Media LLC? According to Wikipedia, the company started in Ft. Smith, Arkansas as Donrey Media Group. Upon the death in 1993 of its founder Donald Reynolds, Donrey was sold to the Stephens family of Arkansas. The Stephens are best known for their privately held investment bank and wealth manager, Stephens, Inc. In terms of wealth, the Stephens family is ranked second in Arkansas only to the Walton clan. Not only are the Stephens wealthy, they are well connected to both Democrats and Republicans. They had connections to both Bill Clinton and the Bush family. Now that is connected.

The newspapers owned by Stephens Media LLC are listed below by state. As the Wired article notes, many of these papers will be using the "services" of RightHaven LLC. As for me, I plan to never link to any of these papers. The only paper they own in North Carolina just happens to be the newspaper from the town where I was born. The only regret that I have is that I will be missing out on some of the columns by Vin Suprynowicz. Oh, well, 

  •      Booneville Democrat - Booneville, AR
  •      Cabot Star-Herald - Cabot, AR
    •            Cabot Weekly
  •      Carlisle Independent - Carlisle, AR
  •      Charleston Express - Charleston, AR
  •      Fayetteville Free Weekly - Fayetteville, AR
  •      Greenwood Democrat - Greenwood, AR
  •      Hot Springs Village Voice - Hot Springs Village, AR
  •      Jacksonville Patriot - Jacksonville, AR
  •      Lonoke Democrat - Lonoke, AR
  •      Morning News of Northwest Arkansas - Springdale, AR
  •      Paris Express - Paris, AR
  •      Pine Bluff Commercial - Pine Bluff, AR
    •           The Market Place
    •           The White Hall Progress
  •      Press Argus Courier - Van Buren, AR
    •            Alma Journal
  •      Sherwood Voice - Sherwood, AR
  •      Southwest Times Record - Fort Smith, AR
  •      The Maumelle Monitor - Maumelle, AR
  •      The Times - North Little Rock, AR
  •      Van Buren County Democrat - Clinton AR
  •      Washington County Newspapers
    •            The Lincoln Leader
    •           The Prairie Grove Enterprise
    •            The Farmington Post
  •      808 Classifieds - Hilo, HI
  •      Big Island Weekly - Hilo, HI
  •      Hawaii Tribune-Herald - Hilo, HI
  •      North Hawaii News - Waimea, HI
  •      West Hawaii Today - Kailua-Kona, HI
    •            North Hawaii News
    •            Big Island, HI
    •            Westside Weekly
  •      McDonald County Newspapers
    •            The Anderson Graphic The Goodman News-Dispatch
    •            The McDonald County News-Gazette
    •            The McDonald County Press
    •            The Southwest City Republic
    •            El Tiempo
  •      Ely Times - Ely, NV
  •      Eureka Sentinel - Eureka, NV
  •      Las Vegas Review-Journal - Las Vegas, NV
    •            View Neighborhood Newspapers
    •            El Tiempo
    •            Las Vegas CityLife
    •            Las Vegas Business Press
    •            Rebel Nation
    •            New Homes Guide
    •            Luxury Las Vegas
    •            Southern Nevada Home And Garden Magazine
    •            Nifty Nickel
    •            Neighborhood Shopper
    •            Jobs Today Weekly
  •      Pahrump Valley Times - Pahrump, NV
  •      Tonopah Times-Bonanza - Tonopah, NV
North Carolina
  •      Courier-Tribune - Asheboro, NC
  •      Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise - Bartlesville, OK
  •      Pawhuska Journal-Capital - Pawhuska, OK
  •      The Daily Herald - Columbia, TN
    •            The Advertiser News Of Spring Hill And Thompson's Station
    •            Franklin Life
    •            Brentwood Life
  •      Anna-Melissa Tribune - Anna, TX
  •      Herald Democrat - Sherman, TX
    •            Grayson County Shopper
  •      Lake Texoma Life - Van Alstyne, TX
  •      Prosper Press - Prosper, TX
  •      Van Alstyne Leader - Van Alstyne, TX
  •      The Daily World - Aberdeen, WA
    •            The North Coast News
    •            The South Beach Bulletin
    •            East County News
  •      The Montesano Vidette - Montesano, WA
UPDATE: I found this article today about RightHaven suing someone for using material from the Las Vegas Review-Journal in which the article was based on his own research. Jeez!
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.


  1. Vin Suprynowicz posts his columns on his own website and he owns the copyright. At the bottom of his page he notes his copyright and this "Links here appreciated." We can still read Vin and link to his columns without giving Righthaven a damn thing.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Thanks for the update on that. I'm glad I'll be able to read Vin and still tell RightHaven to stick it.

  4. Thanks for putting together the list.

  5. Thanks Clayton. All I did was go to the source - Stephens Media LLC themselves.

  6. "They had connections to ... Bill Clinton....

    You might say that; Clinton very possibly wouldn't have become President without a critical loan they made to his campaign. More searching will turn up all sorts of unsavory allegations about their dealings with the state of Arkansas, the sorts of things we learned were SOP there after Clinton was elected and the nation turned its eyes upon that once obscure state.

  7. Righthaven LLC v. The Second Amendment Foundation et al
    October 12, 2010

    Now if only my RECAP actually uploaded doc 1/attach 0...