Saturday, April 9, 2011 | 2:05 a.m.
Righthaven LLC of Las Vegas has expanded into a new line of copyright enforcement: the protection of online sports-betting content.
Righthaven is best known for suing websites, bloggers and message board posters over material it obtains from the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Denver Post.
On Friday, it filed its first lawsuit that doesn’t involve material from a newspaper.
Instead, the lawsuit accused the owner of Las Vegas-based sports handicapping website therxforum.com of copyright infringement after material from a competing company allegedly was posted on therxforum.com.
Similar to its newspaper lawsuits, Righthaven said in the lawsuit it has acquired copyrights to sports handicapping posts from Florida-based Stevo Design Inc.
Stevo Design, headed by CEO Steven Budin, sells sports handicapping information and analysis by various author handicappers through scores of websites ranging from ATSadvice.com to Gametimereport.com to Vegasadvisors.com.
Typical of the material Righthaven claims was infringed on by therxforum.com was a “literary work,” actually a post called “Rockets 11-10-10” that Righthaven says was originally published on Nov. 10 and was displayed without authorization by therxforum.com on the same day.
“Don’t be fooled by Houston’s 1-5 record. This is a playoff-caliber basketball team that will be proven over the course of the season,” the post begins.
Righthaven’s copyright registration application was received for the post by the U.S. Copyright Office on Feb. 7.
This indicates Righthaven’s lawsuit over the Stevo Design material is similar to its newspaper lawsuits — it likely first finds infringements then obtains copyrights and sues without warning or a takedown request.
Officials at therxforum.com have not yet responded to the lawsuit, which seeks damages of $150,000 and asserts 50 counts of copyright infringement including “vicarious copyright infringement” in which Righthaven claims therxforum.com is responsible for the posts by its users.
The website and its content are owned by Rick Allec and RX Advertising Inc. LLC, the lawsuit says. The advertiser-supported therxforum.com calls itself “The World’s Leading Sportsbetting Forum.”
The copyright transfer arrangement with Stevo Design isn’t the only relationship Righthaven CEO Steven Gibson has with Stevo Design.
Gibson and other attorneys at law firm Dickinson Wright PLLC represent Stevo Design in two lawsuits filed in February on behalf of Stevo Design against competitors alleging misappropriation of Stevo Design content.
Both defendants, SBR Marketing Ltd. and Eddie Roman Consulting Inc., were accused in separate lawsuits of trademark and copyright infringement. Neither defendant has responded to the lawsuits, records showed Friday.
And this is not the first time RX Advertising has been sued by Righthaven. A suit filed in June named The Prescription LLC and RX Advertising Inc. as defendants.
The suit alleged multiple Review-Journal stories were posted on the therxforum.com site, but the case was closed last month after Righthaven voluntarily dismissed it without prejudice.
The dismissal was made for undisclosed reasons. Righthaven showed RX Advertising had been served and RX Advertising did not answer the lawsuit. Yet for undisclosed reasons Righthaven did not pursue a default judgment against RX Advertising.