Angle faces copyright lawsuit over R-J articles


A Las Vegas-based company filed a federal lawsuit Friday that accuses U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle of reprinting two Review-Journal articles on her campaign website without permission.

The limited liability company, Righthaven, has filed dozens of similar copyright infringement cases since it was established earlier this year.

"Righthaven LLC vigorously enforces the copyrighted work of Review-Journal reporters, columnists and editors," said Mark Hinueber, the newspaper's vice president and general counsel. "We expect everyone to comply with the copyright laws of the United States. It is never appropriate to utilize entire Review-Journal articles or columns without prior, express written permission of the newspaper."

Jerrod Agen, communications director for Angle, said he would not comment on the lawsuit until the campaign's lawyers have reviewed it.

Righthaven has sparked controversy in recent months with its aggressive approach to filing complaints; the defendants typically receive no warning before facing a lawsuit.

Las Vegas attorney Steve Gibson, Righthaven's chief executive officer, addressed that criticism during a telephone interview Friday. He also responded to comments made by freelance writer Steve Friess, who recently questioned the company's failure to take legal action against Angle.

Gibson said Righthaven deals with a large number of possible infringements, and its lawyers do not file any lawsuits without first conducting a proper analysis.

"Hopefully, Mr. Friess will understand that our present action against Ms. Angle demonstrates that we don't follow a political agenda," Gibson said.

Righthaven has sued the Nevada Democratic Party and the Progressive Leadership Alliance, among others.

The executive also argued, in response to criticism about Righthaven's methods, that sending letters asking potential defendants to remove content "doesn't deter behavior."

In addition, he disputed the suggestion that some copyright infringers help newspapers by sending traffic to their websites. Gibson noted that the number of newspapers that are struggling financially has increased since the advent of the Internet.

Righthaven has filed more than 100 cases in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas since mid-March. Gibson said most have involved Review-Journal content. And in most cases, he said, the defendants have reproduced copyrighted work in its entirety.

Gibson said giving credit to the original source is not enough.

"Most of this is common sense," he said. "If you didn't write it, if it wasn't your work ... and you just take someone else's work and re-post it, you should understand that's just not right."

In the Angle lawsuit, Righthaven requests unspecified statutory damages.

"We're certainly entitled to up to $150,000 of statutory damages, based on the court's discretion," Gibson said.

According to the lawsuit against Angle, Righthaven owns copyrights for an editorial that the Republican candidate displayed on her website in July and for a news article that she displayed on her website in August.

The lawsuit alleges that Angle neither sought nor received permission "to reproduce, display, or otherwise exploit" the two pieces, which originally were published in the Review-Journal.

Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at cgeer@reviewjournal.com or 702-384-8710.

 

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