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More suits over alleged R-J copyrights bring number to 13

Updated Friday, May 14, 2010 | 1:41 p.m.

Two more website operators were sued Thursday over allegations they posted copyrighted Las Vegas Review-Journal stories without authorization.

Righthaven LLC, a company that has been obtaining copyrights to R-J stories, has now sued 13 companies, organizations and individuals since March claiming that by running R-J stories on their Internet sites they have violated copyrights held by Righthaven.

One suit filed in federal court in Las Vegas on Thursday was against Jack D. Wooden, whom Righthaven says owns the Internet domain madjacksports.com, a sports betting website that says it is "the number one handicapping forum on the web."

The suit claims the madjacksports.com copied and displayed without authorization "literary works" -- including R-J stories involving UNLV sports and hunting and fishing.

Also sued was Ecological Internet Inc. of Green Bay, Wisc., a nonprofit group that runs the websites forests.org and ecoearth.info. The lawsuit claims a Feb. 17 story by the R-J involving a proposed national monument was displayed on these websites as recently as Wednesday, allegedly violating a copyright obtained by Righthaven on April 21.

"Ecological Internet did not seek permission, in any manner, to reproduce, display, or otherwise exploit the work," the lawsuit charges.

Glen Barry, president of Ecological Internet, said Friday that an inquiry from the Las Vegas Sun was the first he had heard of the lawsuit.

"Perhaps they (Righthaven) should talk with us first. We have resolved similar concerns with half a dozen media outlets," Barry said. "We run the pre-eminent environmental portals, and as a nonprofit we believe archiving (of news stories) is a legitimate activity. We do this to solve these terrible ecological crises."

Barry added that in the group’s database of 120,000 articles going back two decades, there were just four archived stories from the Review-Journal.

"All had been accessed zero times. I have (now) removed them," he said.

Asked about the lawsuit against Wooden, the madjack administrator said in an e-mail Friday: "We ... are not responsible for what members post on the message forum. If someone actually did post their material, show us where it was posted and we will remove it."

In the meantime, a group called Media Matters for America has posted a story suggesting the Review-Journal could be violating campaign finance law by having Righthaven selectively sue certain groups while allowing conservative U.S. Senate candidate Danny Tarkanian to post R-J stories on his website. Righthaven and the R-J declined to comment to Media Matters for that story.

"Several campaign finance attorneys said the practice of allowing one political group to use copyrighted information, but blocking others could be considered making an in-kind contribution to one political group or candidate and not others. They based this on the fact that the copyrighted material is a valuable entity," said the story by Media Matters, described as a nonprofit "progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media."

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