Copyright lawyers hit the bulletin boards

US Legal copyright outfit Righthaven acting on behalf of the US newspaper industry is trying to stop people talking about the news on bulletin boards.

Lawyers acting on behalf of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Denver Post, filed seven infringement lawsuits against message board posters James Higgins and Wayne Hoehn.

According to the Las Vegas Sun  Higgins apparently made the grave error of posting a Review-Journal column about Transportation Security Administration pat downs of the elderly and disabled at Reno-Tahoe International Airport.

While Higgins credited the writer, John Smith, he didn’t credit the Review-Journal.

Righthaven claims that Hoehn posted as “Dogs that Bark” on the website madjacksports.com. It said that since 1999 Hoehn has posted about 18,000 items. Among those was an unauthorised copy of a Review-Journal column called “Public employee pensions” although that was credited to the Review-Journal and columnist Sherman Frederick.

Righthaven previously sued and settled with the owner of the madjacksports site.

Righthaven wants $150,000 in damages from both Higgins and Hoehn.

Meanwhile Righthaven has sued Business Insider, Inform Technologies, Bob G. Bell; Peter Ashton, five website operators, along with two website users, claiming material from the Review-Journal was posted on those sites without permission. Again it wants $150,000 apiece and forfeiture of the defendants’ domain names.

But Righthaven lawsuits have been dubbed frivolous and in some cases those sued are fighting back, hitting Stephens Media and Righthaven with counterclaims charging abuse of the court system and the copyright law.

But it seems that the outfit has had some success. most of the lawsuits are settled, apparently for under five figures. This is mostly people fearing what will happen if they lose in court.

So far, the only case that has got to court went against Righthaven when a judge found a Las Vegas real estate agent was protected by the “fair use” laws.