Nevada Democratic Party hit with R-J copyright lawsuit

The Democratic Party of Nevada was sued for copyright infringement Friday after Las Vegas Review-Journal stories allegedly were posted on its website without authorization this spring.

The party was sued in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas by Righthaven LLC, a company that has partnered with the R-J to sue website owners over what the R-J calls copyright theft.

The suit against the party was one of at least three suits filed Friday by Righthaven, which since March has sued at least 64 website operators.

A request for comment was placed with the Democrats, who have been busy the past two days with President Barack Obama in town.

Friday’s lawsuit cited five R-J stories and columns that allegedly were posted on the party website since April covering February’s Nevada gaming revenue numbers, Nevada U.S. Senate candidates touting their support for gun rights, a federal program to help residents keep their homes, a federal financial overhaul bill and the opening of a mortgage modification center.

The R-J was credited as the source for these stories on the party website, court records show.

The lawsuit charges: "Righthaven is the owner of the copyright in and to the literary work entitled: 'Statewide numbers: Gaming revenues jump 13.9 percent.' The defendant willfully copied, on an unauthorized basis, the work."

"Democratic Party of Nevada did not seek permission, in any manner, to reproduce, display or otherwise exploit the work," charged the suit, which seeks $75,000 in damages and an order requiring the Democrats to stop infringing on Righthaven’s copyright.

The lawsuit focuses on the gaming win story because that’s the story, in this case, that Righthaven obtained a copyright for.

The story was published by the R-J on April 8 and was posted on the party website the same day, the suit charges.

Righthaven obtained the copyright to the story on June 23, the lawsuit says.

While everything a newspaper publishes is subject to copyright protection, attorneys say that by copyrighting individual stories, the copyright owner can then sue for statutory damages and attorneys fees.

Also sued Friday by Righthaven were:

--Pennwell Corp., an Oklahoma company that runs an energy industry news site called A May 18 R-J story involving plans by NV Energy to install electronic meters was posted on the pennenergy site, with the story credited to the R-J, court records show.

--A Las Vegas-area company called CollegeStarters, which offers academic and career advising services for students. The company website posted a May 3 R-J story involving a shortfall in the state's Millennium Scholarship fund, with the R-J credited for the story, court records show. Also sued in that case was David Williams-Pinkney, whom Righthaven says is the registrant of the Internet domain name.

Messages for comment were left with those defendants as well.