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Review Journal Sues 'What Brian Thinks'

By Chuckmonster on Thursday, 10th June 2010 2:18pm
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 6


The Las Vegas Sun is reporting that a company acting on behalf of the Las Vegas Review Journal has sued WhatBrianThinksAboutLasVegas.com for copyright violations. Specifically, the website is charged of copy/posting an article about Sarah Palin, presumably posted by a reader somewhere in their truly excellent forum.

This is the 37th time that the Review Journal has sued website operators for copyright violations in the last few months. Other sites sued include a personal blog about cats, the NORML: National Reform Of Marijuana Laws website, and the MadJack sports website.

About two weeks after the RJ posts an article, they transfer the copyright to Righthaven LLC (a lawfirm) who Googles the article titles and content, looking for exact duplicates posted on the internet. When they find them, they sue... sometimes for $75,000 but settling for a fee of $2.95 x # of times the article has been viewed on the offending website. The RJ charges $2.95 to order reprints of their articles.

Now you know why I get all crankypants on folks who copy/paste full articles from other websites to The Board.


Comments & Discussion:

sounds like subscriptions are way down at the LVRJ...

The R-J is trying to kill a fly with a nuclear bomb. Having said that: I'm someone who has to PAY writers to produce certain content. We gladly let other sites use that content under certain permission and conditions. But when that content is reprinted without permission, they are stealing from me. Even if someone links back to the article but publishes the entire article on their site, they have just taken away the page view and potential advertising revenue I would have if someone read the article on my site.

It is no secret that subscriber numbers are down for most newspapers across the country. Papers are having to rely on web revenue more and more. They need those eyeballs on their sites. They are paying writers to write that content. They are doing so knowing (hoping) that they will recoup the money when the content is published.

Reprinting an entire newspaper article is theft of copyrighted material. I hate to sound like Metallica in the Napster case, but the newspaper business isn't Metallica. Newspaper business is on the rocks financially.

We've never completely reprinted a newspaper article precisely because I saw this coming years ago (and even warned hobby Vegas sites who were doing it that they were at risk of a lawsuit). Placing an original comment and a link, or at most 1-2 paragraphs with a link encouraging people to go read it is something that you can do all day long. Racking up page views using lifted material (especially for those sites that are running ads and profiting from it) isn't in the scope of what is lawful.

They "hey, I'm just trying to promote Vegas" excuse does not fly. The R-J does not exist to promote Vegas. They exist to make a buck. (One could argue that the Sun exists to promote Vegas given that they subsidize the entire paper and make money from the Vegas.com side, but that is a rare case).

The day this stopped being a full time job for me is that day I'd vanish. Don't get me wrong: I truly love Las Vegas and couldn't imagine living anywhere else. But the LVCVA isn't paying me to "promote Vegas" (nor are they paying me at all). I don't put out content to promote Vegas. I put it out to pay my bills. Just like the R-J. And lifting someone's content hurts them financially.

I don't get why so many people -- especially those in the MEDIA -- are upset that a content company has decided to aggressively defend their material from theft. It's really pretty simple. It's their property. I don't care if you're a grizzled vagrant or an upstanding citizen, if you take stuff from Walmart they're going to prosecute you. They don't (usually) let you off with a warning when you walk out of the store with a crotchful of merchandise. And if they do, they sure don't do so before they scare the living shit out of you. Journalists or media professionals of any sort who attack this effort are enabling their industry's demise and hastening their eventual own unemployment.

Two weeks ago, someone used a web scraping tool to steal about 1000 pages of VegasTripping's content and posted on a domain that included the words "VegasTripping" in it. I opted to protect our content and brand not by suing for monetary value, but by filing a DMCA take down request with the domains hosting provider as is the web standard process.

Do you think I sue the Las Vegas Sands Corp for using my photograph of Venetian Macao as the background of their Twitter page for two plus years?

This is not going to end well for the LVRJ and for Righthaven. Acting like schoolyard bully is a sure way to have hits to the LVRJ site to plummet. When I get back from Vegas, I'm removing the bookmark I have for the LVRJ website.

There's at least one page/group on Facebook againt the LVRJ and Righthaven:

To add some further comment, some say that even a brief excerpt can be seen as a violation of copyright and is not considered "fair use". I feel that a brief excerpt is a teaser that typically gets someone to read the entire article on the source site.

It's definitely a murky swamp when it comes to copyright and this move by the LVRJ and Righthaven makes it even more murky and let's hope that other media outlets do not follow their lead and start doing the same even with those who post excerpts. If this trend grows, you might as well shut down all internet forums, as folks will be too afraid to post news items, even if it is a link and they summarize the article.

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