If many an undertaking turns bad, it makes sense to be wary about doing anything at all. That's the genesis of the Party of No, which has now evolved on Capitol Hill to the Gang that can't say yes. But, how it all happens can perhaps best be illustrated by the recent kerfuffle engulfing Warren Stephens' media holdings in Nevada and Colorado.
Seems that in the interest of protecting and maximizing revenue from the Stephens investment in print media, the Lord of Little Rock decided the offensive practice of bloggers republishing articles from the Denver Post needed to be stopped. But, perhaps just in case the effort proved unsuccessful or more trouble than it's worth, Stephens Media gave an upstart Righthaven LLC permission to sue bloggers for copyright infringement on its behalf without, however, actually transferring the copy right -- an omission they tried to correct in some cases (Righthaven has launched over 275 suits) after the law suit was filed.
That's one bit of new information to be gleaned from the saga of Righthaven v. Eiserin South Carolina. The more noteworthy information is the fact that Dana Eiser, the newly elected head of Lowcountry 9.12, who hadn't even taken office as head of the conservative group when the "offense" occurred, is being individually sued. This suggests that what Righthaven is really after is to scare their targets into buying them off with a few thousand dollars, rather than wasting money on lawyers. Matt Drudge seems to have fallen for the ploy. Not so Dana Eiser, whose group decided there's a principle to be defended. So, they've hired a lawyer, Todd Kincannon, who's undertaken a class-action against Righthaven LLC in the South Carolina Supreme Court for the unauthorized practice of law.
According to the petition:
Righthaven LLC is a Nevada company. It is not a law firm, yet its exclusive business is prosecuting contingency-fee lawsuits for the benefit of its clients. After finding clients who have claims against third parties, Righthaven obtains "assignments" of those claims and agrees to divide any proceeds 50/50 with the client. Righthaven then files lawsuits in its own name--275 suits against approximately 500 defendants so far. After scaring the living daylights out of its targets with no-warning lawsuits seeking inordinate amounts of money, Righthaven approaches the target and tries to leverage a cost-of-defense settlement, which it splits with its client.
Looks like a shakedown operation. Knowing that the Lord of Little Rock is in the background can't help but make it more worth while for the Low Country's legal stars. To read J. Todd Kincannon's take on this kerfuffle check out this pdf.
Can it get any more botched? Since the collapse and bailout of Wall Street brokers and bankers, Warren Stephens, without announcing his Little Rock (off-Wall Street) firm's frequent partnerships with the likes of Goldman Sachs and Lazard Freres, has been presenting himself via the Wall Street Journal as a new font of wisdom. This summer he came out with a plan to save the economy. He wants to "unleash the job creators."
This from the man who unleashed Righthaven LLC against five hundred bloggers, who aren't even making a living pushing information around. But, maybe that's the point. If Stephens Media is indeed the second-largest publisher of news in the country, then people who distribute information for love of country are natural targets for predatory competitors to remove. Or at least maul a little.
Predatory lenders and predatory news vendors, oh my!
But, the existence of the predator is brutish and short. It's probably wise to be wary, lest the prey bite back.