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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.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I thought Righthaven was done (4+ / 0-)

    after a Federal judge dismissed their suits for lack of standing?

    A federal judge in Las Vegas today issued a potentially devastating ruling against copyright enforcer Righthaven LLC, finding it doesn’t have standing to sue over Las Vegas Review-Journal stories, that it has misled the court and threatening to impose sanctions against Righthaven.

    Because he found Righthaven doesn’t have standing to sue, Chief U.S. District Judge for Nevada Roger Hunt dismissed Righthaven’s copyright infringement lawsuit against the Democratic Underground.


    “The court believes that Righthaven has made multiple inaccurate and likely dishonest statements to the court,” Hunt wrote in his ruling, citing specifically Righthaven’s failure to disclose Stephens Media as an interested party in the litigation as Stephens Media clearly had an interest in the outcome of the copyright lawsuits.

    "The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice." Richard K. Morgan

    by sceptical observer on Tue Jul 26, 2011 at 05:08:12 AM PDT

    •  South Carolina is another jurisdiction (3+ / 0-)

      and the lawyers are going on offense.  And they're doing it on behalf of a 9.12 group.  The lead lawyer is a staunch Republican.

      Stephens becoming a rather regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal needs watching.  An entity that owns the second largest number of papers is likely angling to become number one.

      Stephens Inc. used to be a king-maker, funding the Bushes and Bill Clinton and Forbes and Romney.  Lack of recent success in that role may suggest that perhaps a DIY operation would work better.

      by hannah on Tue Jul 26, 2011 at 05:28:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Besides, as the SC lawyer points out, (4+ / 0-)

        the business model doesn't rely on cases going to trial.  It relies into people being scared into paying up to make Righthaven go away, preferably with another web site in its pocket.
        There's a whole variety of strategies for getting rid of competitors.  


        Murdoch is not the only one who knows how to acquire an empire.  He's also not the only one for whom money is not an object, nor the objective.  Empire builders are into power.

        by hannah on Tue Jul 26, 2011 at 05:35:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  the fat cats are going all out (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Eric Nelson, hannah

          to corner markets etc., becoming ever more obvious in their lust for power

          but how to get people interested...

          i worry that the american public is corrupted by and addicted to the media drama personal and political; and feeling useless/unneeded/hopeless knowing that the big money always runs things

          which spirals into not taking part in elections, as in last year

          •  I learned a new word today: (0+ / 0-)

            timocracy, a word that refers to rulers whose only aim is power.

            I was looking up the meaning of Stephens' name for his new golf club, Alotian.  It is completely original.  I'm thinking it's supposed to mean like "lone titan."


            by hannah on Wed Jul 27, 2011 at 09:31:15 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  "News" vendors ha! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    No one gets out alive
    Predatory lenders and predatory news vendors, oh my!

    Democratic underground

    Jay Dickey    
    And finally, what do you do if that goldanged liberal media just won't stop criticizing you? Well if you're Jay Dickey, you'll complain to your friend that owns the media and get them to stop it. It's that simple! Former congressman Dickey of Arkansas is trying to reclaim his seat this year, but he was disappointed with the coverage he was getting in his local paper, the Pine Bluff Commercial. So he emailed his friend Warren Stephens - the owner of the newspaper's parent company - and asked him for a few favors. According to the Washington Post, the favors included asking that "the Commercial endorse him and have coverage that will complement such endorsement, not look contradictory," asking for comment on all news releases by his opponent, Democratic Rep. Mike Ross, "and don't ask him on mine all the time," and to stop running letters by one of his critics and "publish our favorable letters." Stephens had a word with Sherman Frederick, president of Stephens Media Group, who ordered the Commercial's editor to endorse Dickey, and the editor promptly resigned. The reason according to Frederick was that, "He obviously has very strong feelings against Jay Dickey." Guess it didn't occur to Stevens that that the editor might object to being forced to endorse a political candidate of any flavor. Now that's what I call freedom of the press! See you next week...
     - emphasis added

    Indeed Journalism @ it's finest.  Not
    In today's media good old fashioned news takes a back seat to profits. If compromising solid journalism is the decided price of survival, why doesn't it occur to media outfits that this price is also their end as a trusted news organization [?]

    Thx hannah nice find

    P,S, what's a word for ambulance chaser if you instead chase un-paid bloggers.

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