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Two more websites sued over posting of R-J stories

Updated Monday, May 3, 2010 | 2:08 p.m.

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Two more website operators have been sued over allegations they posted stories by the Las Vegas Review-Journal without authorization.

Lawsuits alleging copyright infringement were filed last week in federal court in Las Vegas against Vegas Marketing Group, a Nevada company; and Industrial Wind Action Corp., a New Hampshire company.

The plaintiff in the lawsuits is Righthaven LLC, which has been obtaining copyrights to R-J stories and suing alleged infringers of those copyrights. Eight such lawsuits have been filed this spring.

The suit against Vegas Marketing Group and several individuals associated with the company alleges it runs a website called www.vegastopdogs.com and that the website posted R-J stories for which Righthaven owned the copyrights. The vegastopdogs.com website focuses on sports and sports betting and includes links to online casino and poker sites.

The suit against Industrial Wind Action Corp. claims it operates a website, www.windaction.org, that posted R-J stories without authorization from Righthaven, the alleged copyright holder. That Web site says it provides facts, analysis and exposure of "wind energy's real impacts."

A request for comment was placed with Wind Action Corp.

Tony Karpinski of Scranton, Pa., who said he owns the vegastopdogs.com website, said Monday that prior to his company being sued, no one from the Review-Journal or Righthaven had contacted him and asked him not to post R-J stories.

He said his website earned no money from posting the stories and actually had provided a benefit to the Review-Journal by promoting its stories.

"I was surprised" to be sued, Karpinski said. "It (Righthaven) looks like it’s just a company with some online software looking to make a quick buck."

One of the groups sued earlier, in the meantime, has filed court papers seeking dismissal of Righthaven's lawsuit.

Attorneys for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), based in Washington, D.C., said Righthaven lacks standing to prosecute the alleged infringement and that the Nevada federal court lacks jurisdiction over NORML because NORML has no office or staff in Nevada and transacts very little business in the state.

Also sued in that case was the California-based Media Awareness Project, described as a network dedicated to drug policy reform that provides a daily news feed to the NORML website.

"Righthaven lacks standing to bring this action because it has failed to show that it was the owner of the copyrights in (news stories) 'Marijuana as Medicine,' 'Dr. Reefer’s business goes to pot' and 'Marijuana activists take stand against bill' at the time the alleged infringement of those rights occurred," attorneys for NORML said in their filing.

NORML added that in 2009, donations from Nevada accounted for just 0.01 percent of NORML's donations and that Nevada visitors to its website accounted for just 0.07 percent of the hits to its website.

Other website operators sued by Righthaven this spring were Mark Chavez, whom Righthaven says runs the website www.thelobolair.com, which covers University of New Mexico sports; MajorWager.com Inc. of Ontario, Canada; Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington Inc.; Henderson real estate agent Matt Farnham; and New Jersey firm MoneyReign Inc.

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