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Some targets of Righthaven lawsuits fighting back


The Righthaven lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas at first glance seem pretty simple: They show bloggers, nonprofits and generally small-time websites around North America for years have been cutting and pasting entire Las Vegas Review-Journal stories on to their websites without authorization.

That seems like obvious copyright infringement. But, as defendants with and without attorneys fight back in some of the cases, Righthaven’s claims don’t appear to be so cut and dried.

The defense attorneys and some defendants without attorneys are making complex legal arguments about whether the Nevada court has jurisdiction over the out-of-state defendants, whether Righthaven itself has standing to sue and whether Righthaven failed to follow the law in filing no-warning lawsuits rather than first sending requests or takedown orders to the infringing websites.

“What makes this action frivolous is the baseless allegations pertaining to the existence of personal jurisdiction over me, when it should have been crystal clear to Righthaven that I am not amenable to suit in Nevada. The complaint is replete with false averments in an attempt to mislead the court, which is a blatant abuse of process,” said Dean Mostofi, who was sued after an R-J story about a lawyer being reprimanded allegedly was posted on his website

“To fight this frivolous lawsuit I have filed, pro se (without an attorney), a well-researched motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, and I want to encourage all out-of-state defendants to file similar motions and to force Righthaven to litigate these actions in the proper venues,’’ said Mostofi, of Potomac, Md.

Righthaven, however, fills its lawsuits with paragraph after paragraph hoping to establish jurisdiction by showing the defendant websites aimed to reach Nevada residents — sometimes by merely posting a story of interest to Nevadans.

Complicating the issue is that some website owners are denying liability, saying the R-J stories were posted — without their knowledge or authorization — by message board users.

Most of the infringing stories credit the R-J for the information. When the infringement doesn’t credit the R-J, the posting amounts to plagiarism, one of the most serious offenses in the profession of journalism. Those cases, though, probably don’t qualify for extra damages and the lack of credit to the R-J could have been caused by negligence or ignorance rather than ill will, media attorney Marc Randazza said.

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