3 copyright suits filed over R-J stories on Web sites

Fri, Apr 16, 2010 (11:01 a.m.)

A company associated with the Las Vegas Review-Journal has sued two more businesses and an organization, claiming they have infringed on copyrights by posting Review-Journal stories on their Web sites without authorization.

In a suit filed this month in federal court in Las Vegas against MajorWager.com Inc. of Ontario, Canada, Righthaven LLC of Las Vegas charged MajorWager has been posting Review-Journal stories involving sports and sports betting on its Web site without authorization.

A look at the MajorWager Web site on Friday showed it posts link to stories involving sports and gambling from numerous sources including the Las Vegas Sun and the Review-Journal.

A request for comment was placed Friday with MajorWager.

Another suit was filed this month in the same court against Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington Inc. (CREW), claiming it posted without authorization Review-Journal stories including stories about ethics and criminal investigations of Nevada Sen. John Ensign.

A CREW Web site, crewsmostcorrupt.org, includes links to Ensign stories from numerous sources including the Las Vegas Sun, the Review-Journal and Las Vegas television station KLAS.

Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW, said Friday that CREW first learned there was an issue with it posting Review-Journal stories when CREW was sued.

"We were surprised that if the Review-Journal had a problem with us, they didn't contact us," Sloan said.

Sloan said CREW attorneys are looking into whether the online posts are allowed under the "fair use" doctrine involving published or broadcast material.

Sloan also said it was troubling that CREW was sued by Righthaven, as opposed to being sued by the Review-Journal, because she said it appears that Righthaven was assigned copyrights by the Review-Journal so Righthaven could operate as a money-making venture suing alleged copyright infringers.

Righthaven officials haven't responded to requests for comment on the company's relationship with the Review-Journal in which it has obtained Review-Journal copyrights and then filed infringement lawsuits based on those copyrights.

Also sued in the same court this month was Henderson real estate agent Matt Farnham, a Realtor with RE/MAX Associates.

A look at Farnham's Web site on Friday showed it includes stories on real estate by publications including the Las Vegas Sun, the Review-Journal, the Orlando Sentinel and CNNMoney.com.

"Omnia publicly displays an unauthorized reproduction of a substantial portion of the work (copyrighted story) at the Web site, in derogation of Righthaven’s exclusive rights. Mr. Farnham has willfully engaged in the copyright infringement of the work," Righthaven charged in the lawsuit against Farnham and his company Omnia Alliance LLC.

Farnham said that until he was contacted by the Sun on Friday, he was unaware there was a concern with his posting Review-Journal stories.

Farnham said he had felt that posting such stories, while crediting the source, was appropriate and that he didn't intend to plagiarize any information.

"Every time I've done it I've cited the source and complimented the source and said 'this is a good story by the Sun or the Review-Journal,'" he said. "It's good information I wanted to put out there."

Two other copyright suits filed by Righthaven in March involving Review-Journal stories are pending. They were filed against MoneyReign Inc. and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

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