Sunday, September 5, 2010

Righthaven: Equal Opportunity Copyright Troll

Steve Gibson's Righthaven LLC is proving itself to be an equal opportunity copyright troll. Earlier it had sued the Democratic Pary of Nevada and progressive website Democratic Underground. On Friday, it filed suit against Sharron Angle, Harry Reid's Republican opponent in Nevada.

According to the complaint filed Friday, Angle is being sued for reprinting two Las Vegas Review-Journal articles on her campaign website. The first was a July 21st article entitled "Its the Jobs, Stupid" and the second was a August 3rd article entitled "Angle: Reid's Clout Misguided. Challenger Describes What Junior Senators Can Do." As of this morning, abridged versions both articles are still up on Angle's website with a link to the LVRJ for the rest of the article. They can be seen here and here.

The delicious irony in this lawsuit is that Sherman Frederick, publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is known to be a big backer of Sharron Angle. Though denied by Steve Gibson, it has been speculated that Righthaven LLC was goaded into filing this lawsuit by liberal blogger Steve Friess. In his blog,, he published a post on August 23rd asking "Will the R-J Sue Sharron Angle". The post detailed instances including those cited above where the Angle campaign website had copied full articles from the Review-Journal. Friess gives his reaction to the lawsuits in posts here and here. It remains to be seen how quickly this case will either come to court or be settled. One commenter on Friess' blog speculated that it would be quickly settled for a nominal sum at "undisclosed terms."

In other Righthaven news, Adam Hochberg, longtime NPR contributor, had an excellent article in The Poynter Institute's PoynterOnline journal. He makes note of the claims of Stephens Media and Righthaven that they are only trying to stop copyright infringement as well as the overwhelming negative response it has gotten from many in the legal community and in the blogosphere. He posits that Stephens and Righthaven may get legal victories but lose the PR war. Other newspaper executives note:
take-down notices can easily resolve most copyright conflicts without litigation. "Generally we don't even do it through lawyers," said Seattle Times Executive Editor David Boardman, who is an officer of the American Society of News Editors. "Normally all it takes is a call or note or e-mail or letter to somebody just saying, 'Hey, you're in violation of our copyright. Please take it down.' More often than not, they do."
 However, as Steve Gibson has made clear, enforcing copyrights by surprise lawsuits is the vehicle he plans to ride to untold riches.

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