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  "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing"
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Cyber Cops
Hall Of Shame Members
Added September 1, 2010

September 2, 2011

Why be mediocre? Like the US Army commercial, why not be all you can be? Go for the gold. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. And so forth. Perhaps Righthaven should use, "Watch where you are stepping"?

We did not think it was possible for a company to compete with, or to surpass, Continental Enterprises for being the biggest scum-bag cyber cop on the planet, but Righthaven is trying very hard for that Number 1 spot. Incredible. And, they admit what they are doing. But, for the most part, they are nothing more than copycats. Others have blazed the trail before them but these internet trolls are taking copyright extortion to a new level. Righthaven is what we call a copyright extortionist.

Sherman Frederick
Internet Troll
Righthaven is a company established by Stephens Media LLC. Stephens Media is also the owner of numerous newspapers including the Las Vegas Review-Journal (also called the "RJ", "LVRJ" and "R-J"). Stephens Media claims Righthaven was started in order to go after any and all third party websites that improperly excerpt all or part of the copyrighted articles from the Review-Journal. Stephens Media runs over 70 other newspapers in nine states, and Righthaven claims it already has an agreement to expand operations to cover those properties

Sherman Frederick is the publisher of the LVRJ and the Daddy Troll. Doesn't he look the part? Would you buy a used car from this man? We would certainly not. And we suggest you count your fingers after you shake hands with him. And make sure your vaccinations are current.

Sherman Frederick

According to Sherm Frederick, in his May 28th editorial, "Copyright theft: We're not taking it anymore", copyright infringement compares to grand theft auto but without the prison sentence. It seems Shermy wants to return to public floggings, town square stocks and the scarlet letter for the dastardly infringers. Followed by burning at the stake as an after thought. Since the resurrection of these punishments are no longer possible then let us all go after anyone who quotes from newspaper articles owned by The Sherm. Look out Sherm-Boy, here we go: quotes from your magic lips. Sue us.

1. A good newspaper maintains a good local sales force which calls on every business in a given market, forming a relationship that bonds the newspaper to the business community. Few organizations, if any, have that kind of sales muscle. A well-managed newspaper sales force is truly a beautiful thing to behold.

Wow! Wave that flag and puff out your sunken chest. What Good Ol Sherm did not mention is the left-wing political bias of most of the American press. But he is not talking politics here; he is talking dollars. So sit up and listen to the one who knows all, Good Ol' Sherm. After some more chest-thumping (Yes, Virginia, Trolls do have chests, sunken as they may be), Good Ol' Sherm gets down to his real motive for this editorial: the perceived copyright infringement of his beloved on-line edition of the LVRJ.

Yet, when it comes to copyrighted material -- news that my company spends money to gather and constitutes the essence of what we are as a business -- some people think they can not only look at it, but also steal it. And they do. They essentially step into the front yard and drive that content away.

Sherm, theft usually involves taking something that is not being given away, does it not? Theft usually involves denying another the possession and/or use of the object in question. Theft usually involves denying the owner of the item the opportunity to make money from the item. But "fair use" of a copyrighted work can include use involving monetary gain. The Supreme Court has stated in Campbell v Acuff that the fact the use of the copyrighted work may be commercial in nature (a web site having some advertising for example), does not bar "a finding of fairness". As far as the "potential market for or value of the copyrighted work", the LVRJ is giving away the articles and actively promoting internet users to copy and distribute the articles. And then, Good Ol' Sherm complains that others are doing the same thing as he is doing? What? Is this insanity? See below for the reason we say the LVRJ is giving the articles away.

Well, we at Stephens Media have decided to do something about it. And, I hope other publishers will join me.

We grubstaked and contracted with a company called Righthaven. It's a local technology company whose only job is to protect copyrighted content. It is our primary hope that Righthaven will stop people from stealing our stuff. It is our secondary hope, if Righthaven shows continued success, that it will find other clients looking for a solution to the theft of copyrighted material.

Righthaven hardly qualifies as a "technology company" and its primary job is copyright extortion. This article attempts to paint Sherm as a victim but the minimal use of the articles hardly qualifies as a financial drain to LVRJ and Sherm will still be able to purchase petrol for his lovely 67 Corvette.

If you operate a website (liberal or otherwise) and don't know what "fair use" is in the context of American copyright and Constitutional law, then I suggest you talk to your copyright lawyer and find out.

Sherm, we hate to destroy your little bubble but "fair use" is not mentioned in the US Constitution. But then, neither is apple pie, baseball or 67 Corvettes. And why would these people have to see a copyright lawyer? The real purpose of copyright law is to prevent others from profiting from copying the work of others. But, as a publisher, you would never let the facts get in the way of a good gripe or editorial, now would you? While some of the web sites being sued do have some advertising, for the most part they appear to be using the material for educational and commentary purposes, which is perfectly lawful. But Good Ol' Sherm is such an asshole that he believes he walks on water and that his shit does not stink. Surprise, Sherm - you do not walk on water, and yes, your shit does stink. A lot like your flawed reasoning.

As of August 4, 2010, Righthaven had filed approximately 86 lawsuits against various website operators claiming copyright infringement. Righthaven appears to never contact any of these websites to order them to take down the infringing content nor does Righthaven send any kind of cease and desist letter or takedown request against the website. Copyright law does not require a cease and desist be sent or that the alleged infringer be contacted before filing a federal lawsuit. One reason not to contact the alleged infringers first is because most website operators will quickly comply and take down the offending articles without Righthaven getting any "compensation" or extortion money. And since that is their announced policy, financial compensation, why warn their victims? Does a lion warn the antelope before it attacks? Of course not.

Righthaven's procedure has been to troll the internet to find what it perceives to be an infringement of a Review-Journal copyright to a specific story. It then buys the copyright for that story from the Review-Journal owner, Stephens Media LLC, and then sues the infringer while continuing to troll for additional violations. Righthaven is using a batch of newspaper copyrights to target, among others, political discussion boards, a major political party, and several of the newspaper's own sources. Hello, Righthaven? Does your mama know what you do for a living?

Righthaven is so intent on its extortion demand that in at least two cases, Righthaven has sued Review-Journal sources. Righthaven does not know friend from foe. Righthaven sued Anthony Curtis, a Las Vegas gaming promoter whose website bills him as offering "the best information about Las Vegas and gambling". It seems Curtis posted a column by R-J staffer Mike Weatherford online. (Weatherford had interviewed Curtis and wrote the column at issue based entirely on a survey conducted by Curtis's company.) Ouch. Are the inmates running this asylum?

In another lawsuit, Righthaven filed a copyright claim against Steve Stern, a former reporter who runs his own Las Vegas public relations firm and has served as a source for Review-Journal reporters.

Also targeted were the Nevada Democratic Party, which Righthaven sued for posting a Review-Journal story on its website.

And City Felines Blog. A few months back, the cat people posted a story about the suffering of a bunch of birds that died in a fire at a wildlife sanctuary.

Righthaven and its CEO and lead attorney, Steven Gibson, deny the lawsuits are frivolous. Gibson has done work for the R-J for years and with his law firm Gibson Lowry Burris LLP last year represented the R-J in trademark litigation unrelated to the current copyright lawsuits. Right, and we believe him. Like hell we believe him. Corporate lawyers lie for a living. Mark Hinueber, general counsel of Review-Journal parent company Stephens Media, insists that the prospect of making money is not what motivated the company to do business with Gibson. "My hope," says Hinueber, "is we will raise awareness of copyright laws, and have more links back to our site, and have less of our material infringed on the Internet." Right. A public-spirited corporate lawyer? Sure. He is laughing all the way to the bank.
Steve Gibson

Of the suits he's already filed, Gibson says about 30 percent have settled. While the settlements are all confidential, Las Vegas Sun reporter Steve Green has reported that the settlement amounts range from $2,185 to $5,000. "People are settling with us," says Thomas Dunlap, the head lawyer of the Copyright Group's litigation. The out-of-court settlements, the number of which he declined to divulge, are ranging in value from $1,500 to $3,500. The only publicly-reported settlement amounts for two cases were $2,185 and $5,000, respectively. In these settlements, the defendants have been able to keep their domain names

But in some cases, defendants and attorneys are fighting back. The Las Vegas law firm Lewis and Roca LLP is focusing on the lawsuits and is making money off the grief of the defendants. Even copyright extortion begets new enterprises. To their credit, Lewis and Roca called the lawsuits "arguably frivolous" and "nothing more than a thinly disguised shakedown."

"This strongly suggests that these suits were filed, not for the legitimate purpose of enforcing copyrights, but rather, to coerce several settlements as part of a massive cash grab facilitated by judicial process,"

Consider the following defenses:
  • The LVRJ has given internet users an implicit license by putting the newspaper's content up for free on the internet for the entire world.
  • The LVRJ has encouraged people to save links to the works and to send links to the work to others anywhere in the world at no cost and without restriction.
  • The LVRJ still does this including quick links to share it with some 19 different services. On September 1, 2010, LVRJ had direct links to:
    Newsvine, Digg, Fark, Technotati, reddit, StumbleUpon,, Slashdot, Propeller (AOL News), Mixx, Furl, Twitter (twice), MySpace, Facebook (twice), Google Bookmarks, Yahoo Bookmarks, Windows Live Favorites, Ask MyStuff, myAOL Favorites.
  • It also had direct links for SAVE THIS (reprint), EMAIL THIS, PRINT THIS, MOST POPULAR, RSS FEEDS (twice) and "E-mail / mobile alerts".
  • The LVRJ still encourages web site visitors to download or distribute the articles electronically via email.
  • The Las Vegas Review-Journal web site also enables third parties to 'right click' and copy the text of articles on the site.

We have collected a number of articles about Righthaven. There are a lot more out there but these will give you the essence of what is being said and what you can do if you are attacked by Righthaven. Listed by date.

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