Former LVRJ Publisher Admits He Was Behind Righthaven Lawsuit

from the ooops dept

Stephens Media and Righthaven have been involved in an important legal battle (mainly in the case involving the Democratic Underground, but it's popping up in other Righthaven cases) concerning who really are the parties of interest in the Righthaven lawsuits. Plenty of the defendants (and now three different judges) have said that Righthaven is really just a Wizard of Oz style front for a legal campaign by Stephens Media and its key publication, the Las Vegas Review-Journal. In fact, the basic argument is that the whole setup of Righthaven was simply a sham to try to isolate Stephens Media from potential liability. In the Democratic Underground case, the judge has even dismissed Righthaven from the case, but is allowing DU's counterclaims against Stephens Media to move forward (Righthaven is trying to beg its way back into the lawsuit).

One of the more entertainingly clueless players in this whole charade has been Sherman Frederick, the former publisher of the LVRJ, who was a major public supporter of Righthaven from the beginning, whose own words keep coming back to haunt both Stephens Media and Righthaven. Frederick appears to have a bit of a reckless overly-confident cowboy attitude, which is the kind of thing that gets people like him into a lot of trouble. We've already noted the rather blatant hypocrisy of Frederick multiple times. Originally he insisted that copying content from the LVRJ -- even small amounts -- was no different than stealing a corvette out of his driveway. And, yet, he's been caught posting infringing content, copying content from Techdirt and other blogs -- sometimes failing to even make it clear that he was quoting someone else.

But Frederick's biggest problem with his big mouth concerning Righthaven has been his habit of occasionally talking about Righthaven as if he controls it... because that's kind of the whole key issue here. Is Righthaven really a separate company... or is it merely a pawn for Stephens Media (or, worse, a law firm that is not licensed to practice law in Nevada)? You would think that sooner or later someone higher up in the ranks of Stephens Media (who demoted Frederick from publisher to mere columnist late last year right after the election) would tell Frederick to close his trap on these things, because he's only making it worse.

No luck. Frederick wrote a blog post on July 14th, blasting critics of the failed Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle, of whom Frederick had been a big booster during the election. In the comments to that blog post, some commenters challenged Frederick on certain points. And in a comment at 1:30 pm, Frederick directly noted, with regard to Angle: "I even sued her for lifting our material." He is, of course, referring to the fact that Righthaven sued Angle. We actually found it amusing that Frederick's "little friend," Righthaven would sue Angle at the same time that he, as publisher, endorsed her as a candidate. Would Frederick endorse a candidate who stole the corvette out of his driveway? Apparently.

Still... in that comment he directly claims that he was the one who sued Angle. That's a pretty big problem for Stephens Media when it's trying to claim that it's not the one suing, but it's Frederick's "little friend," Righthaven. And, indeed, it took all of about a day for at least one of the defendants in a Righthaven lawsuit to point this comment out to a court. I would imagine it does not look good for Stephens Media, in these cases where it's claiming that it's not the one suing, for its former publisher, who was intimately involved in the Righthaven plan, to come out and state publicly that, yes, in fact he was responsible for one of Righthaven's most high profile cases.

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