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August 1, 2014

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5 more websites sued over R-J story copyrights

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Las Vegas Review-Journal Publisher Sherman Frederick likens copyright infringement of his newspaper's online content to the hypothetical theft of a classic Corvette from his front yard.

But in the real world, Frederick and his copyright enforcement partner don't appear to be making many friends among Corvette enthusiasts.

On Monday, the R-J's copyright enforcement partner, Righthaven LLC, filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the owner of the www.corvetteforum.com website.

That suit, one of five federal cases filed by Righthaven on Monday in Las Vegas, listed as defendants Internet Brands Inc. of Los Angeles and Internet Brands Chief Marketing Officer Chuck Hoover.

The suit says an R-J story from June 20 called "Reid machine dwarfs Angle" was posted on the Corvette website without authorization.

The story on Nevada's U.S. Senate race appears to have been posted by a website user named "71stang99." Full credit was given to the R-J in the post, which included a link to the story on the R-J's website.

A message for comment on the lawsuit was left with Internet Brands, a publicly-traded company that posted $28.1 million in second-quarter revenue and that runs more than 100 websites.

Another Corvette website operator, Ashur Conrad, editor of the Corvette Mafia News Blog, told the Las Vegas Sun last week that he was upset about Frederick comparing copyright infringement to the theft of 1967 Corvette.

"It runs much deeper than Corvettes," said Conrad, who has not been sued by Righthaven. "As a blogger I will blackball them. We (bloggers) generate a ton of back links to sites and generate traffic to their websites that normally would not happen. I have a great big sticky on my computer screen to remind me not to go anywhere near the Las Vegas Review-Journal website. Frankly, we don't need them. There are plenty of news sites that understand the reciprocal relationship that benefits both parties. We as bloggers can cause someone from New Jersey to go to the Las Vegas Review-Journal website to see about a story that they otherwise would not have (seen). Obviously the Las Vegas Review-Journal just doesn't get it in their shortsightedness. Hopefully dwindling traffic to the Las Vegas Review-Journal website will in turn reduce their ad revenue and maybe they will abandon this course of action."

Righthaven, which has now filed 96 copyright infringement lawsuits since March, also sued on Monday:

--Fred Pruitt, who has a website called www.rantburg.com. That site allegedly displayed a July 9 R-J editorial about President Obama visiting Las Vegas called "Welcome back, Mr. President. Your economic policies suck."

Court records show a website user, "Beavis," posted the editorial at www.rantburg.com.

--Dan Cirucci, a Pennsylvania and New Jersey public relations executive, was sued for posting the same "Welcome back, Mr. President" editorial. Cirucci on his website says he's the former president of the Philadelphia Public Relations Association.

Court records indicate that in posting the editorial to his website, Cirucci commended the Review-Journal, writing: "If only newspapers in places like Philadelphia and Boston would have the good, decent, common sense to run an editorial like this. Still, it's nice to discover that newspapers in some big cities know how to hit the mark, editorially speaking."

--Stephen Meenehan, whom Righthaven says is the registrant of the Internet domain name www.informationliberation.com. That website allegedly displayed under its "tyranny/police state" category a June 14 R-J story and an R-J photo about a man who was shot and killed by a Las Vegas police detective serving a drug warrant. The R-J was credited as the source of the story and photo, court records show.

--Thomas DiBiase, whom Righthaven says is the owner of the www.nobodycases.com website. That site allegedly displayed a June 11 R-J story about a retired teacher receiving the death penalty for killing his wife. The victim's body was never recovered, but her DNA was found in a Las Vegas hotel room, the story says. Records indicate the story posted on DiBiase's website credited the R-J.

DiBiase, on his website, says he prosecuted homicide cases for more than 12 years as an assistant U.S. attorney in the District of Columbia and that in 2006 he prosecuted a "no body" murder case and has been interested in "no body" cases ever since.

Messages for comment were left with those four defendants as well.

In some of the lawsuits alleging third-party message board users posted R-J stories to the websites, Righthaven says the defendants: "Knew, or reasonably should have known, that the websites ... are ... the habitual subject of postings by others of copyright-infringing content."

Righthaven says such websites " did not institute any proactive policy of precluding or attempting to preclude the posting by others of copyright-infringing content" and "did not institute any proactive policy of monitoring or attempting to monitor the posting by others of copyright-infringing content" and "did not institute any proactive policy of deleting or attempting to delete the posting by others of copyright-infringing content."

All of the new lawsuits, like most Righthaven lawsuits, demand damages of $75,000 apiece and forfeiture of the defendants' website domain names to Righthaven.

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