Third defendant countersues Righthaven, Stephens Media

A Massachusetts man sued for copyright infringement over a Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial is fighting back, hitting the Review-Journal's owner with a counterclaim charging copyright fraud.

Thomas Neveu of Dorchester, Mass., filed the counterclaim in U.S. District Court for Nevada on Tuesday against Review-Journal owner Stephens Media LLC and Stephens Media's copyright enforcement partner, Righthaven LLC.

Neveu becomes the third Righthaven defendant to sue Stephens Media and Righthaven and his complaint was patterned after the others filed by attorneys for the online freedom of speech and privacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

In September, Righthaven sued Neveu, Thomas Richard, an entity called Climate Change Fraud and the website; claiming material from the Review-Journal was posted on the Climate Change website without authorization.

Righthaven detects infringements to Review-Journal and Denver Post material, obtains copyrights to the allegedly infringed material and then sues the alleged infringers on a retroactive basis. An entity associated with Stephens Media has invested in Righthaven.

Neveu, who is representing himself in the litigation, charged in his 160-paragraph counterclaim that the Righthaven lawsuit against him was caused by a strategy by Stephens Media, "working in conjunction with Righthaven, which is a front and sham representative, to seek windfall recoveries of statutory damages and to exact nuisance settlements by challenging a fair use of an excerpt or an article that was owned by the Las Vegas Review-Journal and was made freely available by them on the Internet until the time Righthaven purchased this copyright, along with many others, for the express purpose to pursue concocted and frivolous copyright lawsuits."

Like other Righthaven defendants claiming the Review-Journal website provides an implied license to copy its material, Neveu argued: "The Las Vegas Review-Journal had made such work freely available and it encourages users to `Share and Save' at least 19 different ways."

Like other Righthaven defendants, Neveu charged that since Righthaven didn't own the copyright to the story when it was initially published, and Stephens Media maintains some copyright rights in the story, the lawsuit against him was filed "for the purposes of obtaining judgment and financial damages by means of a knowingly fraudulent act."

Stephens Media and Righthaven have not yet responded to the counterclaim.

Righthaven's lawsuit against Neveu and the codefendants was over an Aug. 27 Review-Journal editorial called "As the wind blows" concerning wind energy.

Records indicate the editorial was posted on the Climate Change website on Aug. 27 and full credit for it was given to the Review-Journal.

Righthaven said it applied with the U.S. Copyright Office to register its copyright to the story on Sept. 22. It then sued the defendants Sept. 27.