Posts Tagged ‘las vegas’

16 Months of Righthaven in VEGAS INC’s New Cover Story

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Cover of VEGAS INC with copyright symbol in flamesLas Vegas business magazine VEGAS INC’s new cover story is Righthaven. This is your chance to catch up in a couple of minutes on the last 16 months of sordid lawsuits against random bloggers, some of them retired or unemployed, for $150,000 plus seizure of their domain names. It’s the most important story in blog law going. The author is, of course, Steve Green, who has been reporting on the Righthaven litigation mill from the beginning. With this recap, he brings you right up to today, where we find the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s “little friend” on the ropes but frantically trying to reinvent its legal strategy in order to stay alive and keep pulling in cash.

Righthaven Now Suing Bloggers Over Graphics

Friday, January 7th, 2011

From Steve Green in the Las Vegas Sun:

We should all be grateful to the Las Vegas Sun for devoting so much coverage to the Righthaven lawsuits, and to Steve Green for doing such a good job with it.

Righthaven Loses Early on Fair Use

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Thugster slayer Michael Nelson

Righthaven has lost a copyright infringement case because of a successful fair-use defense raised at the earliest procedural opportunity. The case is Righthaven LLC v. Realty One Group, Inc., 2:10-cv-1036-LRH-PAL.

In May 2010, Michael J. Nelson, a Las Vegas realtor, posted a portion of a Las Vegas Review Journal news story about a federal housing program on his blog, www.michaeljnelson.featuredblog.com. Righthaven took a copyright assignment from the Review Journal and pounced with a federal lawsuit. Happily for bloggers everywhere, instead of caving and forking over a low-dollar-value nuisance settlement, Nelson fought back and claimed that what he did was legally protected fair use.

The court agreed.

Of key importance for the court was that Nelson copied only eight sentences of a 30-sentence story, and the portion he copied was of a factual nature, as opposed to the portion which contained the reporter’s commentary.

U.S. District Judge Larry R. Hicks made short work of the case in a four-page order.

The court found that the first fair-use factor – purpose and character of the use – weighed against Nelson because he used his blog to promote his realty business. The second factor – nature of the work – weighed in Nelson’s favor because the portion of the news article copied was factual in nature. The third factor – amount and substantiality of the portion of the copyrighted work used – weighed in favor of Nelson, the court held, since he only copied eight sentences from a total of 30 in the news story. The fourth factor – effect on the potential market – weighed in Nelson’s favor as well. Regarding this factor, the court said:

The court finds that Nelson’s use of the copyrighted material is likely to have little to no effect on the market for the copyrighted news article. Nelson’s copied portion of the Work did not contain the author’s commentary. As such, his use does not satisfy a reader’s desire to view and read the article in its entirety the author’s original commentary and thereby does not dilute the market for the copyrighted work. Additionally, Nelson directed readers of his blog to the full text of the Work. Therefore, Nelson’s use supports a finding of fair use.

That line of analysis portends very well for other bloggers sued by Righthaven.

Now I’d like to see Nelson file a motion to get attorneys’ fees.

Nelson’s case seems like a great victory for free speech and fair use, but there’s a sad postscript: As of the time I am writing this post, Nelson has removed all the content from his blog.

So Righthaven has lost, but free expression has lost too.

AP Coverage of EFF’s Involvement in Righthaven v. Democratic Underground

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Associated Press logoIt’s nice to see that another newspaper reporter in Las Vegas is writing about Righthaven, that is, unaffiliated with the Las Vegas Review-Journal and in addition to Steve Green with the Las Vegas Sun.

Cristina Silva of the Associated Press is following the story now, and yesterday she reported (Forbes, BusinessWeek.com) on the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s involvement in one of the Righthaven suits, an action against Democratic Underground. (Complaint [pdf]; answer and counterclaim [pdf].)

I am quoted in the story:

“The news media has just not done stuff like this before,” said Eric E. Johnson, a University of North Dakota law professor who focuses on copyright infringement and intellectual property issues. “The news media has this sense of public responsibility and a deep sense of ethics and the public trust … this seems like a straightforward effort to make money. It’s mean.”

Techdirt Digs Up Cache Problem for Cash-for-Nuisance Suer Righthaven

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Ooooh. Very interesting. Techdirt asks:

Could The Legality Of Google’s Cache Kill Righthaven’s Copyright Claims?

Two things I would add:

1. This is especially interesting since the Field v. Google case came out of the District of Nevada. That means it’s real precedent in federal court in Las Vegas.

2. The Field v. Google case was in my view wrongly decided. But not real surprising. Bad facts + silly plaintiff => bad reasoning + silly precedent. The Righthaven case may force the issue.

The Sun Says Some Righthaven Defendants are Fighting Back

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Today, from the Las Vegas Sun:

Some targets of Righthaven lawsuits fighting back, by Steve Green

Righthaven’s claims don’t appear to be so cut and dried. The defense attorneys and some defendants without attorneys are making complex legal arguments about whether the Nevada court has jurisdiction over the out-of-state defendants, whether Righthaven itself has standing to sue and whether Righthaven failed to follow the law in filing no-warning lawsuits rather than first sending requests or takedown orders …

Say Hello to My Little Friend: A Federal Complaint for Copyright Infringement

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

The latest Righthaven / Review Journal copyfighting news dispatch out of Glitter Gulch: Las Vegas Sun – “R-J mob source hit with copyright suit.”

This time the Las Vegas Review-Journal, through their copyright enforcer Righthaven, is taking on mob-enforcer-turned-federal-witness Anthony Fiato.

The allegation is that Fiato reposted Review-Journal reports about Las Vegas organized crime on his personal blog. The complaint against Fiato was filed yesterday in Nevada federal court.

All this despite the fact that Fiato was a source for LVRJ columnist John L. Smith. Fiato was even the subject of a book by Smith.

Righthaven is demanding $75,000 from Fiato. But maybe Fiato will make Righthaven an offer they can’t refuse …

Such as a lowball nuisance-value settlement.

The Las Vegas Sun reports in the same story that Righthaven accepted a $5,000 settlement offer from Odds on Racing, a horse racing news website sued previously over an allegedly reposted Review-Journal column.

Here’s my question: How do you serve a summons on someone in the witness protection program?

Righthaven “Really Outdid Itself” Suing Blogger Over Article That Contains His Material

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Wendy Davis on MediaPost’s Daily Online Examiner has slammed copyright thugster Righthaven for filing a copyright infringement suit against Anthony Curtis, the publisher of The Las Vegas Advisor blog.

The allegedly reposted article in this suit was written about the defendant, and used his data and contained quotes from him. 

Davis says that Righthaven, who is the outsource copyright plaintiff for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “has filed some questionable lawsuits in the past, but really outdid itself” this time.

According to Davis, the article involved Curtis’s annual survey results on ticket prices for Las Vegas shows. She writes:

… 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. … 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.

Righthaven’s at it Again, Syringe-Safety Group Gets Stuck, Along with Others

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

The Las Vegas Sun reported yesterday that cross-town rival newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, has six new copyright lawsuits in the courts, bringing the total to at least 56, for reposted news stories.

Individuals bloggers and a nonprofit organization that advocates for needle safety in healthcare settings are among the defendants. The suits are filed by Righthaven, who takes assignment of the LVRJ copyrights before filing suit.

According to the court filings, many of the defendants credited the Review-Journal when they reposted the story. What do we make of that? It’s pretty obvious that these people thought they were doing nothing wrong. Should copyright law make unlawful something that so many people seem to think is both legal and wholesome?

The Righthaven Review-Journal lawsuits may tell us a lot about the future of copyright and news stories online.

WIll other newspapers follow the LVRJ’s lead? Or will they decide they don’t care to pursue copyright entitlements in this way? If the industry as a whole shrugs its shoulders, it may establish a custom and practice that eventually cements into a judicial view of fair use highly permissive of reposting.

James Rainey from the LA Times on Artiegate

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

James Rainey has written a column in the Los Angeles Times on the Las Vegas Review Journal’s federal court fight against a Boston-based blogging cat and the humans who apparently lent the cat a computer. The copyright suit ensued after the blog reposted an LVRJ story about a fire at a bird sanctuary. (My original post on Artiegate is here.)

“The newspaper people had me pretty much in their corner until they went after the cat people,” Rainey writes.

For the column, Rainey spoke with the Review Journal’s in-house lawyer, and Rainey hints that the LVRJ’s lawyer, who apparently is not involved in the litigation, may have found the lawsuit against Artie’s humans a bit uncomfortable:

The paper’s in-house counsel, Hinueber, seemed to have a sense that his paper effectively had blasted a small tabby with a howitzer. He didn’t promise to drop the suit, but offered: “I just learned about the filing on the cat thing. I’m going to talk to [Righthaven] about that.”

Righthaven is the plaintiff in the lawsuit. Righthaven acquires copyrights to articles from the Review Journal before filing suit against the alleged infringers.

Purr-loined Story Gets Cat Blog Sued

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

ALLEGED COPYCAT: Artie, a cat living in Boston, Mass., is the supposed author of a blog that has been sued for reposting a newspaper story about a bird sanctuary.

The Las Vegas Sun reports that its rival newspaper, the Las Vegas Review Journal, has partnered with a company called Righthaven LLC to sue bloggers and others for copyright infringement for reposting Review Journal stories, or portions of stories, on the web.

A total of 34 defendants have been sued in such suits, according to the Sun, the latest group of which includes Allegra and Emerson Wong of Boston, Mass., who have a noncommercial blog about cats: City Feline Blog, written from the perspective of a cat.

Righthaven, the plaintiff in the suits, apparently finds Review Journal stories reposted elsewhere on the web, acquires the copyrights from the Review Journal, and then files suit against the reposters.

The Sun reports that the complaints, filed in federal court in Las Vegas, have generally sought $75,000 in damages, and at least four of the lawsuits have been settled. The amount of the settlement for one of the lawsuits is known: NORML – the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws – agreed to pay $2,185 to have their action dismissed.

According to the Sun’s review of the court filing, the amount of $2,185  was arrived at by NORML by calculating the maximum amount of the Review Journal’s lost revenue – based on the reposted story’s visitors and the Review Journal’s news archive access fee, and then tripling that amount. The Sun pointed out that NORML’s attorneys’ fees to that point must have easily exceeded the settlement amount. I agree that seems likely.

The NORML filing included this observation: “If Righthaven does not accept this offer, Righthaven may become obligated to pay NORML’s costs incurred after the making of this offer[.]”

I’ll note that with statutory damages, it may well have been possible for the court to award a recovery for Righthaven far in excess of $2,185. Though such a sum might well have been highly unlikely. NORML’s tactic appears then to have been to offer a high nuisance value settlement and then transfer the risk for litigation costs to Righthaven for rejecting the offer and rolling the dice to try to obtain a higher dollar amount.

The Review Journal commented on the lawsuits in their own blog post from the publisher: “Copyright theft: We’re not taking it anymore.”

In a twist, the Las Vegas Sun has, themselves, reposted the bird sanctuary story by hosting a pdf of Exhibit 1 to the complaint against the Wongs.

We’ll be waiting to see if Righthaven takes the bait and sues the Sun.