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Senate Candidate Sued By Copyright Troll 253

Posted by samzenpus
from the lesson-in-the-law dept.
The Iso writes "Las Vegas based company Righthaven found two articles from the Las Vegas Review-Journal about Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle reprinted on her web site without permission, so it did what it always does: bought the rights to the articles from the Review-Journal and sued the alleged infringer, seeking unspecified damages."
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Senate Candidate Sued By Copyright Troll

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  • Next (Score:5, Insightful)

    by broKenfoLd (755627) on Monday September 06, 2010 @02:58AM (#33486498)
    Now we just need a Paul Allen to step up and sue a senator for patent infringement, and maybe we'll get an ear in the Senate to put a stop to this craziness.
  • by PerformanceDude (1798324) on Monday September 06, 2010 @03:00AM (#33486514)
    Hopefully Righthaven finds more politicians to sue. Lots more. Then maybe - just maybe - will we get some consumer friendly copyright laws. In this case it would appear that Sharron Angle is indeed guilty of willful infringement, but if more politicians get hurt in their own pocket by copyright suits then the chance of them creating laws that states that damages must fit the crime may actually come into effect. That would kill the business model behind the *IAA cartel suits.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 06, 2010 @03:05AM (#33486528)

      Hopefully Righthaven finds more politicians to sue. Lots more. Then maybe - just maybe - will we get some consumer friendly copyright laws.

      pft! Those case will just have "undisclosed settlements" -- and Righthaven will have more politician owing them when it comes time to vote on legislation.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Haedrian (1676506)

      Kind of "Biting the hand that feeds you" isn't it?

      I wonder what their plan is - they're irritating a politician, who actually has enough contacts and power to damage the whole enterprise of suing people for large sums of money.

    • by khchung (462899) on Monday September 06, 2010 @03:39AM (#33486674) Journal

      Hopefully Righthaven finds more politicians to sue. Lots more. Then maybe - just maybe - will we get some consumer friendly copyright laws.

      No, you will get safehaven laws to shield politicians from these suits instead. Just like the Do-not-call-list specifically contained exemptions to let politicians call you.

      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday September 06, 2010 @04:36AM (#33486936) Journal
        A better example is the recent case against RIM. When the court was about to issue an injunction that would cause Blackberry service to be blocked in the USA, you might have thought that this would make Congress consider reviewing whether the current patent system was really in the public interest. Instead, they indicated that, if this were to be the case, then they'd make an exemption to the injunction for politicians in the name of national security.
  • by jmerlin (1010641) on Monday September 06, 2010 @03:05AM (#33486536)
    It'd be nice to see what content was allegedly copied. If that material is freely available on the LV RJ website, I don't think there's much of a case here, it's just trolls grasping at straws again. But we don't know, because that's how trolls work: stay hidden, be vague, try to steal as much money as possible via government enforced monopolies.

    In reality, how much would this possibly have cost? A print copy (if the articles are in print only) sitting in a doctors' office might get what.. 50.. 100 reads for the single copy? People get paper copies then give them away because they're just trash.. are they going to claim 100x the cost of the print times some "assumed number of page hits" as damages? I don't see that any reasonable estimate would be worth the time nor effort of buying a copyright then suing. They must be going for millions, when actual damages may be under $5000. Mmm.. gotta love them trolls.

    I'm also curious why, when the articles were discovered and there was no permission given to copy them, why the owner of the site wasn't asked to take them down? Usually this is the first course, and if they don't, then you sue for damages. Do trolls not even have 1 shred of decency?
  • by RocketRabbit (830691) on Monday September 06, 2010 @03:07AM (#33486538)

    What's the name of the person in charge of Righthaven? Seems to me that there is an evil, profiteering son of a bitch in charge of this hot mess of a company.

    We need to start suing his ass.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I like to imagine it's someone called Baron Righthaven - at least with such an evil sounding charicature I can try and maintain my naive childhood view of good and evil in the world (and hope that a hero in shining armour will get around to slaying him when he's done rescuing princesses and such).
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Sygnus (83325)

      Darl? Just sayin...

  • by wvmarle (1070040) on Monday September 06, 2010 @03:07AM (#33486544)

    Let's call this a very interesting business model. Or should I say bizarre business model. Maybe one should start making a list of companies with bizarre business models, this should be on the top.

    Also the Review-Journal publication should be careful to keep track of which articles they have sold off the rights, otherwise they may end up on the receiving end of a law suit.

    Otoh as this troll appears to only handle Review-Journal articles, and obviously can easily buy copyrights from this journal (I can't think of many papers that are so happy to sell the copyrights on their articles - this must be a complete transfer of copyright, not just a license), it sounds like they are a related company one way or another, and basically suing on behalf of Review-Journal just under a different name.

    At first I misread the headline as "patent troll". This is not too different. But at least these copyright trolls sue people that really should know better - it is after all much easier to unknowingly infringe on patents than copyrights. Copying stuff verbatim without asking permission is silly, especially when done by a public figure.

    • by jmerlin (1010641) on Monday September 06, 2010 @03:34AM (#33486658)
      This really just should be made illegal. Both for copyrights and patents. Purchasing an intellectual monopoly with intent to cause fiscal harm to another party is profiteering and should be made illegal. The punishment? No less than jailtime for the trolls involved, and it should pierce the corporate veil to nab the CEOs that permit this kind of scheme to happen. Intellectual monopoly have been under scrutiny for a very long time as "not working" and inhibiting intellectual progress, but permitting this kind of action most definitely is a direct inhibition of progress and a blatant abuse of the system. Sure, abolishing both would be best, but for now, hopefully criminalizing profiteering with copyrights and patents should stop at least some of the abuse.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by micheas (231635)

        Although, if someone is infringing on your copyright and you cannot afford to take legal action, shouldn't you be able to sell the work including all legal claims/liabilities?

        Personally I would rather get rid of the doctrine of "holder in due course". Which seems to incite fraud, this just seems to incite vigilantism against those that thought that the victim was to inconsequential to worry about.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by advocate_one (662832)

          "Although, if someone is infringing on your copyright and you cannot afford to take legal action, shouldn't you be able to sell the work including all legal claims/liabilities?"

          it wasn't your copyright when they infringed it though... this is what the Judges should be throwing these cases out for, lack of standing at the time the alleged infringement took place.

          • please ignore the above, I replied to the wrong post... arghh!!! damn this stupid posting timer...
          • by shentino (1139071)

            It's sorta like how SCO's legal claims would be inherited by the highest bidder if it were ever liquidated.

            I think it's called a successor in interest.

          • by xigxag (167441) on Monday September 06, 2010 @12:06PM (#33489102)

            I disagree. It's not that laws don't need to be reformed. It's that these kind of kneejerk, ahistorical, situationally expedient solutions usually have unintended results that are worse than the problem they are attempting to mitigate.

            Consider: Your dad passes away suddenly, and you're going through his old effects and papers and realize that his partner's been ripping him off for years to the tune of millions of dollars. What can you do about it? Nothing, in your world, because you had "lack of standing at the time the alleged infringement took place."

            Or you buy a house next to a scenic lake. After you've been living there a couple of months you start to feel sick. It turns out that the old Duponsanto plant for years had been dumping toxic waste into the lake and polluting the land. They cleared out about a year before you moved in, so you have no recourse because of "lack of standing at the time the alleged infringement took place."

            But, on top of that, although the wording in the article is ambiguous, it seems likely to me that Righthaven purchased the rights to the work while the alleged infringement was still ongoing. So even going by your litmus test they would still have standing to bring suit.

      • Sure, abolishing both would be best, but for now, hopefully criminalizing profiteering with copyrights and patents should stop at least some of the abuse.

        I say let all the absurdities play out until things us so untenable that both patent and copyright get repealed.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Solandri (704621)

        This really just should be made illegal. Both for copyrights and patents. Purchasing an intellectual monopoly with intent to cause fiscal harm to another party is profiteering and should be made illegal.

        There's nothing wrong with suing for copyright/patent violation per se. You're forgetting that while yes, it causes fiscal harm to another, the "another" has already caused fiscal harm to the copyright/patent holder. In effect the lawsuit is just squaring the books and thus discouraging copyright/patent v

  • Well, Yeah (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BenJCarter (902199) on Monday September 06, 2010 @03:10AM (#33486558)
    The party of trial lawyers isn't going to change without some feedback.
  • by fredmosby (545378) on Monday September 06, 2010 @03:12AM (#33486574)
    I like to think that what I do at my job benefits other people. How can someone work a job where they harass people into giving them money, and nothing they do could possibly help anyone but themselves. Lawyers who file suits like these have the same effect on society as people who steal for a living. The only difference is they can't get arrested.
    • by mukund (163654)

      The bad sleep well [wikipedia.org] indeed.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      nothing they do could possibly help anyone but themselves

      That is a bit of an overstatement. Didn't you even read the summary? This suit will very likely benefit society as a whole; this is a REPUBLICAN candidate they are suing.
    • They are sociopaths (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday September 06, 2010 @03:33AM (#33486652)

      They cannot empathize with others, they cannot feel the emotions of another. They are totally and completely self centered. So long as something is good for them, they do it.

      Most people associate the term with serial killers and it is true, all serial killers I'm aware of are sociopaths, but there are actually a surprising amount of them. Nearly 10% of the population is like that. Most are just inconsiderate assholes, the sort of people that just don't seem to care when they cause problems for others.

      That's what happens with people like this. They seem to have no morals because they don't. They'll act perfectly justified in their actions, After all, it is all within the law, why shouldn't they do this? You are stupid for not doing it! Etc, etc.

      You will also find, that when someone does something to them the same as they do to others, they get PISSED. It is COMPLETELY different when done to them and they can't see the irony in that.

      Happened to a spammer some years ago. He got interviewed by a local paper. He justified his spamming as being no big deal, people could just delete it, didn't cost them anything, etc, etc. What he did was 100% fine according to him. He also bragged on his new $800,000 house. Enterprising Slashdotters figured there couldn't have been many houses sold in that area at that price in the timescale talked about. They were right: There was one. As a result he was signed up for more or less every mailing list there was. A postal truck full of mail would show up every day.

      He was livid, threatened to sue any and everyone, hissed, spitted and screamed about how big a problem this was. No recognition, at all, that this was just like what he did to others. In his mind inconveniencing other people was fine, but him being inconvenienced was a crime of epic proportions. Reason is he can only understand his own emotions and needs. Other people are just objects to him.

      • by thijsh (910751)
        Excellent example. The question that now remains is: How do you deal with sociopaths? Is the only solution to force them to feel exactly like their victims? Your example seems to indicate there is no 'hey, maybe I did unto others...' moment for sociopaths, so will they ever truly learn from their mistakes? Hmmm, the cynic in me knows the answer is probably 'They will learn not to get caught next time'.
        • by Aeternitas827 (1256210) on Monday September 06, 2010 @04:52AM (#33486992)

          Is the only solution to force them to feel exactly like their victims?

          This would generally make them feel like a victim, and tend to escalation of their attacks; because to a degree, they will see it as being retaliation; for example, the person who runs around mugging people for months ends up mugged himself; from there on, he'll continue mugging people, but he'll debiliate them in one way or another--knocking them out from behind, breaking a few bones, possibly killing them (though this would require a quite robust catalyst)--to prevent retaliation.

          • by shentino (1139071)

            Kinda like how spammers started harassing Blue Security users after getting a taste of their own medicine.

        • The only real thing you can do is punish them for their actions. As I said, most of them aren't serial killers (obviously), they are just assholes. While they don't care about others, they are about themselves and most critters, including humans, are reasonably good at learning "If I do X, then Y happens."

          So when they do things they shouldn't you punish them. This can mean legal punishment in the case they are breaking laws, or societal punishment in other cases. If you have a sociopath at work you may just

          • by thijsh (910751)
            You make a good point, but the problem is some holes cannot be fixed (inherently)...

            So that leaves conditioning as the only working treatment. But some things can't be punished by law currently (and neither should there be a law against anything and everthing).

            But it's also possible to condition without punishment, but what kind of conditioning would work well on a sociopath?
            • Depends on the sociopath. As I said, all people are different. Might be giving them what they want when they behave.

              At work we've got a couple professors that I strongly suspect are sociopaths. They are just assholes and don't seem to care about anyone else. However they are generally nice and civil to us (computer support). Reason is they've found out being nice to us means that we fix your problems faster, and will help you more. If you are jerks to us you can find yourself rather low on the priority list

              • by thijsh (910751)

                There is no "one-size-fits-all, completely permanent" solution to assholes.

                Some extreme solutions prove the contrary. ;)

                But yeah, I see your point. Different people, different solutions. But for a disorder to have truly different levels of effect you would expect there to be some kind of spectrum... In that case the asshole who doesn't realize he's a jerk could very well be a very mild case sociopath. It's about lack of empathy right? And there is of course a spectrum of empathy ranging from absolutely none (sociopath) to a huge fucking lot, with neither end allowing people to f

                • by Krahar (1655029)
                  It becomes especially hard to distinguish the actual sociopaths because empathy is not automatic - if you want to, you can turn it off. If you don't at some point turn your empathy for starving people in the third world off, you won't be able to to function normally because obviously their issues are more grave than anything going on around you. So you turn it off. Soldiers aren't all sociopaths, yet they will seek opportunities to kill their enemies - they turn their empathy for their enemy off. What disti
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by tepples (727027)

            Change it so that purchasing copyright with the intent to sue is illegal

            Would it also be a violation for a law firm to take an infringement case on a no win, no fee basis [wikipedia.org]? Because in effect, there isn't much difference.

      • by xded (1046894) on Monday September 06, 2010 @06:11AM (#33487276)
        Original slashdot story [slashdot.org] where the address was tracked down, archive copy of original article [archive.org] and follow-up slashdot story [slashdot.org].
    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Monday September 06, 2010 @04:05AM (#33486790)

      Maybe they're scared that Sharon Angle will actually get elected. I mean, a look at her positions [wikipedia.org] SHOULD scare even copyright trolls.

      Lets see... Thinks rape and incest should not be an exception for abortion? Check. Thinks global warming is a conspiracy? Check. Eliminating the IRS (like, actually eliminating it, not just grumbling at tax time)? Check. Wants to continue the failed prohibition of marijuana? Check, and possibly wants to restart the prohibition on alcohol. Etc..

      Sure, she's a republican, and so I'm going to disagree with her on a lot of things (like eliminating all federal influence over education and letting half the states teach that evolution is a lie made up by the devil), but I think her platform goes beyond reasonable. Is copyright trolling against dangerously out-of-touch politicians justified? Probably not, and it's not going to stop her, but this is really more funny in my book for now than an outrage.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by fredmosby (545378)
        In this case they're suing someone you don't like, but that's just a happy coincidence. From the article is sounds like the just go to work and sue random people to extort money from them all day. The people who originally wrote the articles don't even benefit from it.
      • by Black Parrot (19622) on Monday September 06, 2010 @04:21AM (#33486876)

        Maybe they're scared that Sharon Angle will actually get elected. I mean, a look at her positions SHOULD scare even copyright trolls.

        Lets see... Thinks rape and incest should not be an exception for abortion? Check. Thinks global warming is a conspiracy? Check. Eliminating the IRS (like, actually eliminating it, not just grumbling at tax time)? Check. Wants to continue the failed prohibition of marijuana? Check, and possibly wants to restart the prohibition on alcohol. Etc..

        Her hard-line views are what got her nominated.

        What's funny is seeing all the "Tea Party" politicians running from the cameras, now that they've gotten nominated and don't want the broader public to know what their views are. Back in the regular world, politicians don't miss a chance to get in front of a camera and brag about their grand accomplishments and the more to come.

        When a politician doesn't want media attention, you know something is *seriously* wrong.

      • by roman_mir (125474)

        Sharon Angle is something, ain't she? She's crazy.

        However this here:

        Eliminating the IRS (like, actually eliminating it, not just grumbling at tax time)

        - everybody should want that.

        AFAIC the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan started to steal money and redistribute that money to contractors - military and civilian alike. Politicians saw the SS money and needed to take it.

        Why pay income taxes at all, if you against wars? That's first.

        Then there is the entire issue of Freedom. The gov't is telling you: we own you. We own your wages and we'll give you what we decide out of the money you earn. T

    • by vadim_t (324782) on Monday September 06, 2010 @05:49AM (#33487178) Homepage

      On top of a pile of money with many beautiful ladies

    • by roman_mir (125474)

      ha ha ha, it's the quickest and the easiest and the best way of making the most money (or taking the most resources), and it stays the best, the easiest and the quickest way forever.

      A virus or a bacteria uses your body to survive, if they are not deadly, you survive and let them survive in you, that's one way to use you. Beating people up and taking their stuff is the quickest way of becoming much richer than the rest, around you, that's what governments are based on - they take your stuff that they didn't

    • by Wildclaw (15718)

      * You are a sociopath/psychopath.
      * You do it because "you have no other choice".
      * You redefine worthwhile being to not include your victims. (usually via some kind of ideology/religion)
      * You manage cognitive dissonance by using mental compartments. (and humans are very good at that)

    • I like to think that what I do at my job benefits other people. How can someone work a job where they harass people into giving them money, and nothing they do could possibly help anyone but themselves.

      It makes more sense if you approach it from the (legally justified) point of view that the Las Vegas Review-Journal is entitled to some compensation for the infringement of their copyright. Then it just becomes an outsourcing service. Righthaven is suing Angle in lieu of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and has

  • That's it... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aeternitas827 (1256210) on Monday September 06, 2010 @03:18AM (#33486598)
    This whole goddam thing has gotten out of hand. The U.S. has become far too litigious--it's not even a matter of suing for stuff you made anymore; suing for something that someone else made (wrote, in this case), and being able to do so simply because you gave them a few bucks for the rights to it...just ridiculous.

    Honestly, if there's anyone who really, truly believes--on their own, not because a few pushy groups with money to finance campaigns--that the current system is the way things should be, then this country has really gone tits-up. Are there ways that some of these abuses could be curbed? Sure, there are; but it should not be, by any stretch of the imagination, be necessary. There is no way anyone with a hand in copyright law before this generation would have wanted this type of bullshit.

    To summarize, the extent of copyright should be to protect your work from other people making a profit off of it; if no one else is making money (DIRECTLY) off of it, then STFU, you're not losing anything you wouldn't have already not gotten already; if they are, then you get a) a nice injuction, and b) the sum total of what they made off of it (that you should have)...and maybe attorney's fees. And if you didn't make it, but you acquired the rights to it later, then STFU about anyone having used it before you had the rights; if the original owners didn't care, then you shouldn't either.
    • suing for something that someone else made (wrote, in this case), and being able to do so simply because you gave them a few bucks for the rights to it...just ridiculous.

      Can she force them to disclose how much they paid for it, then limit damages to how much it was worth when they paid for it. Surely, if complete rights to something are worth $X, the danmage caused by an unauthorized copy cannot possibly be greater than $X; in the same way that if you have 3 cars I can't steal 4 from you.

  • On the one hand why is the senator infringing copyright?
    On the other hand why is anyone allowed to buy a copyright then sue without giving the infringer an opportunity to simply take down the infringing work?

    Two wrongs make a right, dumb and dumber, disappearing up one's own back passage. Take your pick.

    Copyright law is irreparably broken.

  • by thephydes (727739) on Monday September 06, 2010 @06:31AM (#33487366)
    I use an article, you buy it, then you sue me for using it before you owned it? Sorry I do not understand - the system that allows this is seriously fucked!
  • Blame...?! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Type44Q (1233630)
    I have to question how the plaintiff can show they received damages in good faith when they willfully purchased a copyright because it was being violated (i.e. isn't there a basic requirement or presumption of "innocence" or lack of participation on the part of the plaintiff?

    An image comes to mind of an old lady erratically weaving down the road at 7mph in her Buick Roadmaster and I deliberately run out in front of her (I know, inaccurate analogy)...

  • According to http://www.righthavenlawsuits.com/ [righthavenlawsuits.com] - they have filed 117 similiar suits in the past, recovering a total of $104,000. Doing some hardcore math, it comes out to being awarded about $888 in damages per suit.

    Is this really what this is about? Going to court so you can pay off 2 months worth of cellphone and ISP bills? ...pathetic.
  • There's some deep irony here. After the Nevada primary Angle changed her website to make her seem more consistent with the mainstream values of the Republican party. The Reid campaign, sensing an opportunity, archived her old website and put it online at http://www.therealsharronangle.com/ [therealsharronangle.com] This, of course, really irked the Angle campaign who attempted to use copyright law against the Nevada state Democratic party to squash the publication of the site.

  • by brianerst (549609) on Monday September 06, 2010 @11:53AM (#33488960) Homepage

    The Righthaven/Stephens Media copyright trolling was covered [pajamasmedia.com] by a lot of the conservative blogosphere a few weeks ago. Righthaven (the trolls) has a deal for all of Stephen Media's 70-odd newpaper properties (including the Las Vegas Review-Journal). Wired had a story [wired.com] about their business plan.

    A trademark lawyer blogged [likelihood...fusion.com] about why their business plan isn't a good one (hint: most bloggers don't have deep pockets).

    Finally, Clayton Cramer posted a blacklist [blogspot.com] plus some links to BlockSite [mozilla.org] and SiteBlock [google.com] to block all Stephens Media properties from Firefox/Chrome.

    It was a bit of a cause célèbre for about a week, but I'm sure this will kick it up again...

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