Former R-J publisher’s blog post being used against Righthaven in copyright lawsuit

A blog post this week by former Las Vegas Review-Journal Publisher Sherman Frederick is now being used against Righthaven LLC in one of its copyright lawsuits.

Frederick appeared to comment Thursday that he was responsible for Righthaven suing then-U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle last year over allegations she infringed on copyrights by posting R-J material on her campaign website without authorization.

“I even sued her for lifting our material,” a comment on Thursday’s post on the R-J website by “Sherm” said.

The significance of that comment, defense attorneys say, is that it undermines claims by Stephens Media LLC, owner of the Review-Journal, that Stephens Media does not control Righthaven.

Counterclaims and existing and threatened lawsuits against Stephens Media, Frederick and others involved in the Righthaven litigation could result in financial damages and attorney’s fee awards against Stephens Media.

Besides being publisher of the Review-Journal, Frederick was CEO of Stephens Media until November.

Frederick’s blog post Thursday “constitutes a public admission by Stephens Media’s then-CEO that he — and by extension, Stephens Media — was truly in control of the Righthaven litigation,” said a court filing Thursday by attorneys for Righthaven defendant Dana Eiser in South Carolina.

Earlier, Righthaven defendant the Democratic Underground charged in a counterclaim against Righthaven and Stephens Media that “Stephens Media is an alter ego of Righthaven for the purposes of this case and that any separation between them for the purposes of this lawsuit is a sham.”

Righthaven is half owned by the same investors who own Stephens Media. The other half of Righthaven is owned by Las Vegas attorney Steven Gibson.

Righthaven since March 2010 has filed 275 lawsuits over alleged infringements of Review-Journal and Denver Post material. Its litigation campaign slowed down this summer after three judges dismissed suits over Righthaven’s lack of standing, and since last year the firm has been hit with three fair use losses.

Also on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt in Las Vegas fined Righthaven $5,000 as a sanction for deliberately hiding the role of Stephens Media in the Righthaven lawsuits over R-J material.

Hunt earlier rejected arguments by Stephens Media that its only role in the Righthaven cases was to assign copyrights to Righthaven. Stephens Media made that argument without disclosing it receives half of Righthaven’s lawsuit revenue over R-J stories, after costs.

“Contrary to its assertions in its moving papers, Stephens Media has threatened Democratic Underground with litigation because, according to the SAA (lawsuit contract between Stephens Media and Righthaven), Stephens Media approved or consented to suit against Democratic Underground,” Hunt wrote last month in a ruling in the Democratic Underground case.

That was the ruling in which Righthaven was removed from the case for lack of standing, while Hunt ordered that Stephens Media remain in the case as a defendant in the Democratic Underground’s counterclaim.

“Additionally, Stephens Media’s then CEO, Sherman Frederick, generally threatened potential defendants that he would send his ‘little friend called Righthaven’ after them. Here, Stephens Media actually did send Righthaven after Democratic Underground,” Hunt wrote in that order.

Separately, a spokesman for the State Bar of Nevada said Friday that its investigation of grievances filed against Righthaven and one or more of its attorneys remains active.

The State Bar plans to obtain a transcript of Thursday’s hearing in which Hunt suggested Righthaven operates as an unlicensed law firm while masquerading as a company.

While the State Bar hasn’t commented on the specifics of its investigation, it’s believed to be looking into the unlicensed practice of law allegation as well as the allegation that Righthaven has been involved in barratry and champerty.

These concepts are generally defined as a form of ambulance chasing in which a party with no real interest in a dispute tries to make money by inciting and prosecuting litigation over that dispute.

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  1. The LVRJ is the Faux News of Las Vegas media. We distort - We decide should be their motto. And this entire monstrosity called Righthaven is so very typical of right wing thugs. Nobody should be surprised that this is devolving into a big scandal. Look at the players.

  2. Open mouth...
    Insert large, stinky foot.

    When this paper supplied a link to this article's subject matter a couple of days back, I reluctantly clicked, and read the associated "blog" by Uncle Shermie...
    It was a startlingly poor assemblage of words from the English language, but I got the point; Shermie's GINORMOUS EGO was going to rear up & bite him like a Rattler.
    Guys like that just cannot help themselves...
    "LOOK WHAT I DID!"

    Shermie has supplied opposing counsel with a railroad spike-sized nail with which to close the coffin on his "little friend".

    Might this also be a gateway to the purse-strings of Stephens Media???

    Hey, SHERMIE!!!
    TICK...TICK...TICK...

  3. to my pal Shermie ---- your silencing me on the RJ boards says more about the weakness of your case than me. I wear your snub as a badge of honor --- and points out the hypocrisy of a man who says he can handle all comers.

    now --- can anyone tell me how Shermie keeps his "job"? picture of Warren Stephens doing something he shouldn't? that's about the only explanation that comes to mind since the damage Shermie's done to that paper in the past 18 months is simply over the top.

    lol.

  4. Sherm: "And just to prove I'm a nonpartisan idiot ... I even sued her for lifting our material."

    Gosh Sherm, I thought you were a rightwing newspaper hack, not a really bad wannabe lawyer who makes self-incriminating public statements.

    You can't make this stuff up!

  5. Scott

    Contrary to some of Sherman Frederick's supposedly conservative pronouncements his actions show any conservatism he espouses is simply lip service when in fact his actions betray any kind of conservative principles. It is not conservative to create and participate in a corrupt organization, it is not conservative to lie to a federal court, and it is especially not conservative to go crying to the government for "protection" when you can no longer compete in the marketplace.

    No Sherman Frederick is not a conservative. He is as phony as the sham agreement between SM and Righthaven.

  6. re: conservatives....

    If you look at Kincannon's site and his bio you'll see a REAL conservative. I will be there the day Sherm hits the stand. I'll be the one who is giggling. Or one of the ones. lol

  7. I have written a blog post on Oneutah challenging Sherman Frederick and LVRJ's conservative credentials.

    http://oneutah.org/2011/07/16/sherman-fr...

  8. So if I understand your point Ken you're saying this right winger at LVRJ isn't right wing enough for you? Who cares? He represents the right's point of view and if you want to talk about TRUE conservatives, none of the politicians in the GOP who want to legislate morality are true conservatives. They are all for big government and they regularly prove it.

  9. Yes, Sherm seems to be a primary "culprit." However, Stephens Media (or Investments) certainly approved it all. But leaving that out: Why does the newspaper industry, aside from the Sun, not cover this story? More importantly, why hasn't the RJ taken any steps to warn people that the organization is litigious? And finally, even given the awful economy, why hasn't a single reporter at the RJ resigned and made public statement regarding Frederick?

    The answer, I think, is that the news business just ain't what it once was. There was a time when reporterorial integrity ruled. Sure, the economy was better, and the industry was stronger. But the fact that I haven't read a single piece quoting objections from RJ reporters leaves me to doubt the journalistic integrity of the editorial staff. Yes, I know there are reporters who have families (and themselves) to support. However, it remains a disappointment that can roll out through the industry.

  10. I wouldn't read too much into Sherm's comment. A more fundamental problem for Righthaven is that even with the restated SAA they *still* have to show that they have a market for the works outside of litigation. They *might* be able to show standing now, at least on new cases, but the market question is going to haunt them unless they actually license the works out to someone other than the originator.

    As always, the key question remains: why does Gibson think that a copyright transfer is needed? What rule(s) is he trying to skirt by this?