Paper sues candidate over reprint

By Cristina Silva
Associated Press Writer

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada’s largest and most influential newspaper is involved in an unusual legal battle with a high-profile U.S. Senate candidate widely praised in its editorial pages.
Republican Sharron Angle has been sued by Righthaven LLC, a Las Vegas-based copyright firm that protects stories published by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The suit claims Angle reprinted two Review-Journal articles on her campaign website without permission.
Media companies don’t usually launch legal fights against people they write about, especially during a closely watched election with national implications.
Angle is challenging Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in a tied race.
Angle spokesman Jarrod Agen said he would not comment until the campaign’s lawyers have thoroughly reviewed the lawsuit.
Thomas Mitchell, editor of the Review-Journal, said the lawsuit was a corporate decision in which he did not have a say.
“We are not part of the story,” he said of the newspaper’s editorial staff.
Stephens Media LLC, the Review-Journal’s parent company, said Righthaven was helping it deter future copyright violators and protect its writers’ work.
But Stephen Bates, a University of Nevada, Las Vegas, journalism professor, said the lawsuit could lead to strained communication between the newspaper staff and Angle’s campaign, which could hamper the paper’s coverage.
“To be suing a candidate during a major election, I’ve never seen anything like this,” Bates said. “It just makes things incredibly awkward.”
Righthaven has filed 127 similar suits since March, including ones against the Nevada Democratic Party and the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada.
But not all the suits involve the Review-Journal.
The 9-month-old firm tracks Internet traffic for copyright infringements of its clients’ original content.
It then buys the copyright from the client and sues the alleged infringer.
Steven Gibson, Righthaven’s chief executive officer, said he did not single out Angle to send a message to copyright offenders.