Righthaven sues D.C.-based group over R-J editorial posting

Sun archives

A Washington, D.C., group advocating against taxes on food is among the latest to be sued for copyright infringement after a Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial was posted on its website.

Righthaven LLC, the Review-Journal's partner in a copyright infringement lawsuit campaign launched in March, filed suit in federal court in Las Vegas on Wednesday against Americans Against Food Taxes, Goddard Clausen Public Affairs Inc. and Ben Goddard.

The suit, like most Righthaven complaints, seeks $75,000 in damages and forfeiture of the defendant's website domain name. Righthaven, however, usually demands $7,500 or less to settle and allows infringers to keep their website name.

At least 115 lawsuits have now been filed by Righthaven.

Officials at Americans Against Food Taxes couldn't immediately be reached for comment on the lawsuit, which complains a Feb. 15 Review-Journal editorial about a proposed soda pop tax was posted on the group's website, www.nofoodtaxes.com, without authorization.

Court records indicate the entire editorial was displayed on the anti-food tax group's website, with the Review-Journal receiving full credit for the post and a link to the Review-Journal website.

"Americans Against Food Taxes has willfully engaged in the copyright infringement of the work (the editorial)," the lawsuit charged.

Two other website operators sued by Righthaven this week, in the meantime, have posted notices on their websites defending their actions and said they may need to seek funds from supporters to help cover their legal costs.

"The complaint against us involves three Las Vegas Review-Journal articles that we posted on S&L for analysis and discussion under the ‘fair use’ protection of U.S. copyright laws," Steven Gilbert in New York wrote on his Sweetness & Light website, which was sued over stories on Nevada's U.S. Senate race and a Tea Party rally in Searchlight attended by Sarah Palin.

"All three of the articles were excerpted, and all three cited and linked back to the original source. Despite the claim in the complaint, none of the three articles were still available on S&L at the time the lawsuit was filed.

"We have published S&L for more than five years, and have posted over 10,000 articles. We have never had a single copyright complaint from any media outlet. On the contrary, we are regularly sent articles by news organizations for us to post for analysis and discussion.

"Of course if we had been requested by Righthaven to remove any of their material, we would have done so immediately. But as far as we know, they have not requested anyone to remove their material before suing them for infringement," Gilbert wrote.

And Michael Nystrom, who has a blog about politician Ron Paul called the Daily Paul, said Righthaven has been engaging in a "shakedown" against bloggers and website owners.

"While it sucks for me personally to be sued, I intend to fight this battle to the end, resources permitting," Nystrom wrote.

"I want to thank the members of the 'Liberty community' who gave me great support today as I digested this news ... Based on what I have heard so far from my fellow patriots, and what other defendants are planning, I believe that Righthaven picked the wrong community to mess with!

"In the mean time, I suggest that fellow bloggers and webmasters scour your sites for any links back to lvrj.com. Righthaven has sued websites that published just four paragraphs of a 36-paragraph story, including a link. To be safe, I wouldn't even link back to (lvrj.com) at all. Who knows -- they might even sue you for that," Nystrom wrote.

Also, Review-Journal Publisher Sherman Frederick on Wednesday discussed the lawsuits in a blog, telling readers: "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."