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July 23, 2014

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Suits accuse 2 groups of posting copyrighted R-J stories online

Copyright infringement lawsuits have been filed against two organizations, claiming they posted unauthorized stories from the Las Vegas Review-Journal on their Web sites.

Attorneys for Righthaven LLC, a Las Vegas company associated with Review-Journal owner Stephens Media LLC, filed suit Saturday against MoneyReign Inc., a New Jersey company running a Web site called www.casinoreign.com.

On Monday, Righthaven also sued NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, in Washington, D.C., which runs the Web site www.norml.com.

In the complaint against MoneyReign, Righthaven said the casinoreign Web site has published numerous copyrighted Review-Journal stories, many involving gaming companies and sports betting.

The suit says that MoneyReign, for instance, "copied, on an unauthorized basis, the literary work entitled 'MGM Mirage, chamber reconcile to battle budget'" -- a story initially published in the Review-Journal on Feb. 24.

Court records show rights to the copyrights of some of the works have been transferred from Stephens Media to Righthaven.

"MoneyReign distributes unauthorized reproductions of the work via MoneyReign's Web site," the lawsuit complains.

Righthaven charges in the suit, filed in federal court in Las Vegas, that the casinoreign Web site targets Nevada users with "search tags" including "Las Vegas," "Nevada," "gambling," "sports book," "Las Vegas news," "Las Vegas Review-Journal" and "Las Vegas Sun."

The lawsuit seeks financial damages, an order blocking MoneyReign from infringing on Righthaven's copyrights and that an Internet domain registrar for the casinoreign Web site be ordered to "lock" the name and that control of it be transferred to Righthaven.

In the federal lawsuit against NORML, Righthaven complained that "NORML copied, on an unauthorized basis, the literary work entitled 'Dr. Reefer’s business goes to pot"' and the "literary work entitled 'Marijuana activists take stand against bill.'"

"Righthaven did not grant NORML permission, in any manner, to reproduce, display, or otherwise exploit the works," charges the lawsuit, which also seeks financial damages, an order barring NORML from infringing on the copyrights and that the NORML Web site domain name be locked and transferred to the control of Righthaven.

A request for comment was placed with MoneyReign.

At NORML, spokesman Allen St. Pierre on Wednesday said Righthaven seems to have sued the wrong entity since NORML receives its news feed from a company called MAP Inc., which is the Media Awareness Project and calls itself a worldwide network dedicated to drug policy reform. MAP says it promotes balanced media coverage.

"It seems bizarre," St. Pierre said. "NORML is a nonprofit. It seems like a misplaced lawsuit."

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