Another company fights back against copyright lawsuit

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Another company facing a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by Righthaven LLC is fighting back, this time calling the Las Vegas company’s litigation campaign “a parasitical abuse” of judicial resources.

Righthaven is a company that detects online infringements of Las Vegas Review-Journal stories, obtains copyrights for those stories and then sues the alleged infringers.

The owner of the Review-Journal, Stephens Media LLC, has participated in the lawsuits by investing in Righthaven and providing the copyrights at issue in the suits.

The “parasitical abuse” charge was leveled in a court filing this week by Silver Matrix LLC.

Silver Matrix and an official there, Justin Beech, have a telecommunications industry website, They were sued because a June 16 Review-Journal story about the CommPartners companies’ bankruptcies in Las Vegas was posted on the website.

In responding to the lawsuit and seeking its dismissal, attorney Hector Carbajal II of the Las Vegas law firm Carbajal & McNutt LLP wrote in court papers:

• Silver Matrix was not aware that a third party had posted the story to the website until it learned of the lawsuit, at which time the story was removed, “which is consistent with the website’s longstanding policy.”

• Nevada is an inappropriate venue to litigate the case because the defendant’s staff and operations are in the New York area and the third party who allegedly posted the story to the website appears to be based in New Jersey. In addition, eight replies to the post were from states other than Nevada or from another country.

• The alleged use of the story, “to the extent it was used, constitutes fair use.”

• The lawsuit claims are barred based on an “implied license,” a defense asserted in previous Righthaven cases by defendants who say the Review-Journal encourages the online sharing of its stories.

• The lawsuit claims are barred based on “waiver and estoppel,” arguments similar to those in other cases in which defendants say the Review-Journal for years apparently didn’t object to online postings of its stories but is now participating in lawsuits over such postings.

• Righthaven failed to mitigate its damages, if any, “and delayed bringing the claim to defendant’s attention when, among other things, it knew that defendant and other like defendants would have likely promptly removed the (story) without the need of litigation and upon the receipt of a simple and less costly inquiry or cease and desist letter. Plaintiff’s costs and fees in initiating the action were needless and unreasonable.”

• The lawsuit claims are barred because of copyright misuse. “Plaintiff is not seeking to protect its copyright or to stop infringing activity. It (sued) to obtain money in excess of the fair and reasonable value of the claimed infringement and to get compensation for its needless and punitive expenditure of legal and filing fees.”

Carbajal also wrote:

“Plaintiff’s business model appears to consist of filing high volumes of small claims copyright actions against numerous out-of-state defendants who must retain counsel to defend them at costs that far exceed the value of the claims at issue. Plaintiff does not appear to seek or even ask for the take-down of their works, but sues without advance notice in order to impose high transaction costs on anyone who would seek to defend themselves.

“Plaintiff seems to rely on the cost of defense to extract settlements that exceed the fair or reasonable value of the claim. The practice is abusive and the Nevada District Court should not take jurisdiction of such massive and parasitical abuse of its judicial resources,” he wrote.

Righthaven has not yet responded to the Silver Matrix filing.

Separately, Righthaven on Friday filed at least its 124th lawsuit since March, this time suing the Hawaii Tourism Association Inc. and an official there, Juergen Thomas Steinmetz.

The tourism association and Steinmetz have a website called eTurboNews that says it offers global travel industry news to 235,000 travel industry professionals in 226 countries and 17,000 journalists interested in travel news.

The Hawaii Tourism Association notes on its website it’s not affiliated with the Hawaii Tourism Authority, which is the lead state agency promoting tourism in the state.

The Righthaven lawsuit says a July 29 Review-Journal story about the History Channel show “Pawn Stars” and an Aug. 30 Review-Journal story about a poll on legalizing marijuana and prostitution were displayed without authorization on the eTurboNews website.

Court records indicate the Review-Journal stories on the website were credited to “” and the Review-Journal reporters who wrote the stories. One story was posted in full; the other seemed to be missing the first paragraph.

As in other recent lawsuits, Righthaven seeks damages of $150,000 and forfeiture of the eTurboNews website.

Steinmetz said he had not been contacted by the Review-Journal about the stories and that he’d never heard of Righthaven or the lawsuit until he was asked to comment on the suit by the Las Vegas Sun.

Steinmetz said he was unaware the Review-Journal stories were on the website and couldn’t say how they ended up there, but he would be looking into it and would remove them.

“This (the lawsuit) seems unethical. It seems like some kind of a scam,” he said.