So far, Righthaven has been known more for the novelty of its business plan than the size of its client roster. In fact, nearly all the lawsuits it has filed were based on copyrights acquired from one paper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Now, Righthaven has added a bit more heft to its customer list. MediaNews Group, which owns The Denver Post and 53 other newspapers, has partnered with the copyright-enforcement company to sue unauthorized users of its content.
Righthaven filed a lawsuit [PDF] on Nov. 2 against Dana Eiser, a South Carolina political blogger, accusing her of posting a column by a Denver Post columnist entitled “A Letter To The Tea Partyers,” without permission.
The financial arrangements between Righthaven and MediaNews weren’t immediately clear. It’s also not clear how far across the chain the partnership extends — that is, whether it’s just with the Denver Post or multiple papers. Executives at MediaNews and The Denver Post didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment, and Righthaven hasn’t disclosed the nature of its financial relationship with its main partner, Stephens Media. owner of the Review-Journal.
Righthaven began filing suits earlier this year and has become controversial due to its “sue first, ask questions later” style of copyright enforcement. The company has filed more than 180 lawsuits since it was founded earlier this year by Las Vegas attorney Steve Gibson.
The lawsuit against Eiser, which was filed in federal court in South Carolina, is the first one Righthaven has filed outside of Nevada. According to Las Vegas Sun reporter Steve Green, who has closely tracked Righthaven suits, it’s also the first one filed that is based on content owned by MediaNews Group.
MediaNews Group claims to be the second-largest newspaper chain in the nation, and as such, it could be an important partner for Righthaven. The new partnership isn’t a complete surprise, as Righthaven has been saying for months that it was going to add partners beyond Stevens Media. Last month, the Denver Post issued a “notice to readers” warning online commenters not to re-publish more than a headline and “a couple of paragraphs” of the Denver Post’s content without permission.
The lawsuit against Eiser’s blog asks for damages for willful copyright infringement, which can range up to $150,000. It also asks for the court to hand over Eiser’s domain name to Righthaven, a remedy that Righthaven asks for in all of its lawsuits but that has been challenged in Nevada. The Las Vegas Sun has reported that Righthaven typically reaches settlements of $5,000 or less.