PR firm Kirvin Doak sued by Righthaven over Celine Dion story it promoted

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"Improving public relations" doesn't seem to be high on the to-do list at Las Vegas copyright enforcement company Righthaven LLC.

Righthaven, which has been suing website operators and bloggers for unauthorized online postings of Las Vegas Review-Journal material, on Tuesday sued Kirvin Doak Communications, a longtime source of news and advertising revenue for the Review-Journal.

Like a few other Righthaven defendants, Kirvin Doak was sued for posting a Review-Journal story on its website that appeared to include quotes and information Kirvin Doak made available to the Review-Journal and other news organizations.

According to research by In Business Las Vegas, a sister newspaper to the Las Vegas Sun, Kirvin Doak is the largest public relations firm in Las Vegas and is the city's sixth largest advertising agency.

The story at issue was announced by Kirvin Doak on Feb. 10: Celine Dion is returning to The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in March 2011 for a three-year residency.

A story by Review-Journal reporter Mike Weatherford published that day included quotes from Dion identical to quotes distributed nationwide by Kirvin Doak in a press release. The Review-Journal story was then posted on the Kirvin Doak website, with the Review-Journal and its writer receiving full credit for the information.

Kirvin Doak regularly directs readers to the websites of the Review-Journal, the Las Vegas Sun and other publications -- for instance using its Facebook page to promote stories involving its clients.

The Celine Dion story, in the meantime, is public knowledge after it was reported worldwide and can still be read for free on the Review-Journal website.

Nevertheless, Righthaven charged in its lawsuit that the posting of the story by Kirvin Doak has "caused and will continue to cause irreparable harm to Righthaven."

As it does in most of its lawsuits, Righthaven is demanding $75,000 in damages from Kirvin Doak and forfeiture of the company's website domain name.

Dave Kirvin, along with Bill Doak a partner at Kirvin Doak, said in a statement: "We have not seen the lawsuit, nor were we contacted by the Review-Journal in advance, but we have enjoyed a 20-year working relationship with the Review-Journal editorial and advertising staff without incident."

Another Righthaven copyright infringement suit is likely to be of interest to veterans and military service members and their families.

It was filed Tuesday against P.O.W. Network in Skidmore, Mo., the nonprofit operator of the website offering information on and serving the families of prisoners of war and U.S. military personnel missing in action.

Supported by veterans, service members and companies supportive of veterans and the military, the P.O.W. Network was sued because four Review-Journal stories about a Las Vegas man accused of falsely portraying himself as a military hero, David M. Perelman, were posted on the site. The Review-Journal was fully credited for these posts on the pownetwork website, court records show.

The pownetwork website shows dozens of such stories from all over the country are available on its website. The R-J stories at issue in the lawsuit can still be read for free on the Review-Journal website.

Righthaven, however, again charges in its boilerplate lawsuit language that the alleged infringements "have caused and will continue to cause irreparable harm to Righthaven."

A request for comment was placed with P.O.W. Network and its president, Charles Schantag.

These were among seven Righthaven lawsuits filed Tuesday in federal court in Las Vegas over allegedly unauthorized postings of Review-Journal stories, lifting the company's lawsuit total to at least 114 since March.

Also sued were:

--American Political Action Committee and Alan Gottlieb in Bellevue, Wash., who allegedly have a website called

--Brett Edmunds, whom Righthaven says is associated with a Nevada wrestling site called

--Michael Nystrom, who has a website about politician Ron Paul called

--Steven Gilbert, who has a website called

--Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee (ALIPAC) and William Gheen in Raleigh, N.C.

Gheen fired back Wednesday, saying in a press release that ALIPAC is the nation's third-largest "grassroots organization fighting for secure borders," calling the Righthaven legal complaint "an ambush lawsuit" and saying he was looking into taking legal action against the Review-Journal and Righthaven.

ALIPAC says it hosts the "largest archive of information in existence on the topics of border security and illegal immigration."

"We stand ready to defend our free political speech and the free speech of all Americans against predatory companies like Righthaven and biased newspapers that would use the courts to try to generate revenue and silence the free speech of Americans," Gheen, president of ALIPAC, said in a press release. "We intend to defend our organization, our rights, and our good name with every possible resource."

"Righthaven is suing ALIPAC over an article titled 'Latino Summit: (Sen. Harry) Reid addresses Hispanic issues,' which ran in the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Feb. 18, 2010. The article describes Reid's promises to a Latino group that he would support a form of amnesty for illegal aliens in America," the press release said.

"Righthaven is asking a judge to give it full control of ALIPAC's Internet domain, which would allow them to shut down the entire website over the article about Sen. Reid's support for amnesty.

"Righthaven LLC is a new company formed in March of 2010 that goes around filing lawsuits without warning against bloggers hoping for a quick settlement of $3,000-$5,000.

"ALIPAC archives articles from online publications as part of the group's rights under the Fair Use Act and as expressions of the group's members' freedoms of political speech. In the six years ALIPAC has been in operation, no other media outlet or company has chosen to challenge ALIPAC's rights in court, although materials from all major news publications are archived at

"In the few cases where source publications have requested the removal of materials, those requests have been granted by ALIPAC. ALIPAC received no request from Las Vegas Review-Journal or Righthaven, just an ambush lawsuit.

"ALIPAC's archives have revolutionized the Internet's long-term memory on subjects regarding illegal immigration. The archives are utilized without charge by American citizens, lawmakers, candidates, reporters, law enforcement agents, students and others seeking greater knowledge about this important national issue," the press release said.

"For American citizens to make proper choices and to be able to understand a complex political issue like illegal immigration, they need full access to articles and information across a period of many years," Gheen said in the news release. "Our non-profit political action committee will not stop providing this service to American citizens as our volunteer work is a critical element of a national political debate. We are seeking legal representation today to defend our rights and to look into filing lawsuits against Righthaven and the Las Vegas Review-Journal for attempting to violate our civil rights and trying to prevent our public participation.

"We will not allow ourselves or the online communities of America debating political issues to be intimidated or silenced by the aggressive legal ambush tactics of Righthaven and Las Vegas Review-Journal," Gheen said. "Americans for Legal Immigration PAC will be reaching out to supporters across America for financial and legal assistance in this matter."

Messages for comment were left with the other defendants.

Jeff Buckner, who was sued last week by Righthaven, in the meantime has responded to the allegations against him.

Righthaven says in its lawsuit that Buckner has a website called That site allegedly displayed without authorization a May 25 Review-Journal story about the Lady Luck property in downtown Las Vegas.

Court records show the only credit the Review-Journal received on Buckner’s website was the reporter’s tagline.

Buckner also has a website called, covering his hobby of collecting casino chips and gaming tokens.

"The blog entry has been deleted from the website," Buckner told the Las Vegas Sun.

"I certainly meant no harm in reproducing the article and I receive absolutely no monetary benefit from the posting of such items. I merely thought it was an interesting article about the resurrection of a piece of 'Old Vegas' history that could be shared," he said.

"I retain no hard copies or digital copies of the article. I am glad you contacted me about this, since this is the first communication I have received regarding this matter. I will not post any articles in the future, I will simply enjoy them as they are," Buckner added.

Separately on Wednesday, Review-Journal Publisher Sherman Frederick wrote in a blog that the company's copyright enforcement initiative has not resulted in a loss of traffic to the Review-Journal website.

Frederick compared his company's policy of suing copyright infringers to that of the Las Vegas Sun and other Greenspun Media Group publications, which upon finding infringements typically request that the material be taken down and be replaced with a link.

"Since we've gotten tough with content stealers by using a company called Righthaven, which has developed software to effectively identify and sue copyright infringers, we've seen no erosion in revenue or traffic to our website. And, even if we did, the loss of the Review-Journal's unique content, which drives our franchise in both print and the web, would far outweigh the benefit of rewarding a content thief with a link," Frederick wrote.

"So, I'm asking you nicely once again — don't steal our content. Or, I promise you, you will meet my little friend called Righthaven,'' Frederick concluded.