State Democratic Party fighting R-J copyright lawsuit

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The Democratic Party of Nevada is fighting back against a copyright infringement lawsuit over Las Vegas Review-Journal stories posted on its website, enlisting Washington, D.C., attorneys experienced in representing public officials, candidates and political parties.

The party’s attorneys with the law firm Perkins Coie LLP on Tuesday filed the party’s response to a federal lawsuit filed in Las Vegas on July 9 by Righthaven LLC, a company that has purchased R-J copyrights and since March has sued at least 86 website owners over R-J stories that were posted on those websites.

In the response, the party admitted three R-J stories and portions of two more R-J stories at issue were displayed on its website.

As for one story for which Righthaven obtained a copyright and is seeking $75,000 in damages for — involving February gaming win numbers — the party admitted it did not seek permission to display the story.

The party response said: “The party denies that its display of the work (story) is properly characterized as ‘infringement.’”

“The parties’ activities complained of in the complaint constitute fair use of any copyrighted works pursuant to (the Copyright Law),” the party response said.

The party response didn’t include any of the harsh language seen in some other defendants’ responses to Righthaven.

Attorneys at the Las Vegas office of the law firm of Lewis and Roca said in a case involving the website “While this case masquerades as a legitimate copyright dispute, in reality, it is arguably frivolous and nothing more than a thinly disguised shakedown.”

“Plaintiff Righthaven LLC knows that the costs of defending this action will far outweigh the value of this case, and is seeking to extract a settlement under the threat of protracted litigation and expense,” a Lewis and Roca filing in the MajorWager case said. “Neither the federal courts nor the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure were established for this purpose.”

Righthaven has denied the shakedown allegation.

The Democratic Party response asked that the lawsuit against it be dismissed, a routine request Righthaven is likely to contest.

Unless a settlement is reached in the case, it’s likely attorneys for Righthaven and the party will continue trading legal briefs and motions for months until there’s a ruling on a motion for summary judgment or a motion for dismissal or there’s a trial.

The party response was filed by Perkins Coie LLP attorneys Marc Elias and Ezra Reese, as well as Las Vegas attorney Bradley Schrager with the Las Vegas law firm of Jones Vargas.

Elias’s bio says his clients include the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, numerous U.S. senators and representatives, and governors and their campaigns.

The bio says Elias recently served as lead counsel for Sen. Al Franken in the 2008 Minnesota Senate election recount and contest and that he successfully argued the case before the Minnesota Supreme Court that resulted in a unanimous decision affirming that Franken had received the largest number of votes legally cast in the 2008 general election for U. S. senator.

In 2004, he served as general counsel to the Kerry-Edwards presidential campaign and was general counsel for Chris Dodd for President during the 2008 primary campaign.

Reese’s bio says he focuses his practice on political law and nonprofit tax law.