The Review-Journal's copyright-enforcing arm, Righthaven LLC, has sued their own darling candidate for Senate, Sharron Angle, just as I said they would have to on Aug 23.
The Las Vegas Sun's Steve Green reported a half-hour ago that Righthaven, on behalf of the R-J, is seeking $150,000 in damages from Angle personally and the forfeiture of her domain name, SharronAngle.Com.
What did I tell you? The fun, indeed, starts now. The campaign will have to defend itself against stealing content, which they really cannot do because contrary to what one diligent commenter on this blog suggested the last time we had this conversation, it is NOT "fair use" to say, "Here's this neat story about me!" and post the whole thing.
What's even more engrossing here is that Angle and her partisans can't complain that the R-J is biased against her, seeing how both its editor and publisher are on record as rooting really, really hard for her to take down Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. In fact, this ties lefties in knots, too, as how will Erin Neff and her phony "journalism accountability project" -- the words of gay activist Rob Schlegel today at a Reid event I was covering -- fit this into their inflexible world view that the R-J is working in insidious ways to bring down the Democratic incumbent?
To be honest, I actually am shocked. When Righthaven CEO Steve Gibson talked to me that day, he refused to let me send him links of the offending material and rejected my suggestion that not suing Angle would weaken the other 100+ cases.
Jon Ralston's TV producer, Dana Gentry, called me after the post to ask if I'd asked Gibson or Angle's folks whether the R-J had provided Angle with permission to post the stories. I hadn't asked and Gentry said she'd find out, but I got off the phone realizing that that was, indeed, a serious loophole.
Well, loophole filled in! According to the Sun's story, the lawsuit against Angle states:
Then again, one of my wise commenters here, on Facebook or on Twitter -- so hard to keep track these days -- noted that for the R-J to let her use the stories gratis would be akin to a campaign donation now that they've affixed prices to it and have become so aggressive in addressing it. There could be messy FEC issues therein for everyone involved, including the undeclared, de facto donor.
So here we are, with the only reasonable outcome given Righthaven and the R-J's posture of suing the pants off all sorts of copyright infringers. Their lawsuits are now about to get the notice not just of the journalism and technology media but also political pundits. Don't be surprised to see this image...
...in a pro-Harry Reid TV ad or mailer soon.
This situation has fascinating implications. Sure, they could settle, but the settlement money would probably have to come from campaign coffers, so we'll see it someday. If they don't settle and this goes to trial -- perhaps after Angle wins and becomes a senator -- we will be privy to the web traffic of a major-party Senate candidate's site as a matter of the public record, data that has always rightly been seen as proprietary.
Separate and apart from the question of whether the R-J, via Righthaven, can sue for damages, can they actually seize SharronAngle.Com? I mean, that's her name, her property. There's actually lots of case law -- including a successful suit by Hillary Clinton to wrest her domain name from a cybersquatter -- to show that Angle has pretty strong rights to it. It's a baffling piece of this.
Oh! And while I have your attention, the R-J also now must sue a major potential advertiser, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. I just noticed today, while researching the property for an upcoming update to the VegasMate iPhone app, this:
Click on any of those -- although we only care about the R-J items -- from this site and you DOWNLOAD A PDF OF THE ENTIRE STORY. Fair use? Not even arguable.
The Cosmo is a $4 billion resort due to open in December. That's some deep pockets there, unlike so many that the R-J has already sued! How fun it will be to see the R-J sue a company that could then choose not to dump thousands of dollars into their ad revenues this fall! But they have no choice, do they?
Any which way, grab a bowl of popcorn, dear readers. It's going to be riveting one way or the other. Yes, I support the R-J's efforts. But does that mean I can't get a kick out of how many headaches it actually causes the folks on Bonanza Road?