Monday, August 23, 2010

Will the R-J Sue Sharron Angle?

Now the fun starts.

As you may know, the Review-Journal has turned over copyrights on its articles to Righthaven LLC to sue dozens of websites and organizations for damages for reposting entire or large swaths of R-J stories. I have supported this effort as an innovative approach to protecting media copyrights, writing a Las Vegas Weekly column and appearing on KNPR to defend the practice.

That doesn't mean I mind watching publisher Sherm Frederick and editor Thomas Mitchell -- both full-throated Sharron Angle supporters and Ahab-like Harry Reid haters on an order unbecoming people who wish their newspaper's coverage to be respected -- wander into a political pickle.

Y'see, based on their own statements and those of Righthaven chief Steven Gibson, they now have absolutely no choice. They must sue Sharron Angle. For damages.

Check this out.

The Angle campaign today posted 845 of the 1,651 words in Laura Myers' Sunday story. That's more than half of it. It would be fun to see how many readers on SharronAngle.Com were so compelled by this brilliant piece to hop over to the full article; I'm betting not many.

But wait, there's more!

The campaign posted the entirety of an August 13 piece in the R-J about new poll results...

...and an Aug. 9 Glenn Cook column on the campaign...

...and an Aug. 6 editorial about the race...

...and on and on. There are several more examples, dating all the way back to a June 9 story about her primary win, see?

I post all these screenshots to help the Righthaven folks in their litigation, seeing how the Angle folks may soon pull all of this down after this post appears. That really doesn't matter to Righthaven's stated modus operandi, though; thousands of readers have seen these stories on SharronAngle.Com and not ReviewJournal.Com; that's a clear loss of the eyeballs that translate into advertising revenue.

The Righthaven approach is to sue first, ask questions later and Gibson has been proud of not taking an ideological slant in which sites they attack. This means even if Angle takes these down, they still must sue her and pursue damages. And the lawsuit has fascinating potential: They could subpoena the web traffic data for a major political candidate's site, something I don't believe journalists have ever been privy to. C'mon, Thomas "Open Records" Mitchell! You can get that for us!

What Righthaven cannot do is send a friendly, "Hey, that ain't cool, take it down" note because they've established that they don't do that. And, again, I'm OK with that. Scare the crap out of 'em, even the cat blogger. You're hard-core badass. Don't soften up now!

By the way, when I first inquired about the R-J's policy earlier this year as the lawsuits began landing, I was told I would remain in bounds with the R-J policy if I used the material under "fair use" -- that is, I was excerpting pieces for legitimate commentary -- or if I provided a headline and the first paragraph or two of a story, with a link.

You know, like this:

Angle's campaign has done neither and has been flouting the R-J's copyrights for more than two months now.

Righthaven must sue. It took effort to find the cat blogger, but this one was on a major candidate's site, there in plain sight. If they don't sue Angle, they provide dozens of infringers with a clear example of the company's inconsistency in defending its copyright. And there goes the whole enterprise, right there.


Vegas Tea Room said...

Sharon Angle is nothing but a Republican cash cow. When she loses in November, THEN Righthaven will pursue wringing every bloody nickle out of her Republican cash soaked corpse.