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Old May 3, 2012, 12:48 PM   #1
Mike Irwin
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Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 36,244
The Virginia Citizen's Defense League needs your help

Following is a message VCDL members and supporters recently received.

It involves something many of us have heard of, predatory copyright infringement lawsuits filed by a company called Righthaven.

Righthaven is why TFL developed its Copyrighted Material Policy

To summarize what you can read below in more detail, Righthaven sued VCDL, VCDL ultimately prevailed, but VCDL is on the hook for $30,000 in attorneys fees, and needs your help.

If you're not familiar with VCDL, the organization has been incredibly effective at helping protect gunowner's rights in the Commonwealth. The most recent success? Repeal of Virginia's One Handgun A Month law.

If you can, please support VCDL, because their activies help ALL of us, not just Virginians.

And just so everyone knows that this isn't a toss-away solicitation on my part, I'm in for $100.

--Mike Irwin

==========================================================

WHAT HAPPENED

Back on September 29, 2010 a Nevada litigation company called Righthaven filed a lawsuit against VCDL alleging copyright infringement for the use of a Las Vegas Review-Journal story in a VCDL Update. (The story in the VA-ALERT Update on July 21, 2010, was item number 31 about a CHP holder who was shot to death by police at a Costco in Las Vegas when the CHP holder didn't comply with two simultaneous and hopelessly conflicting orders from police - "Don't move!" and "Put your gun on the ground!")

What Righthaven was doing with the suit was a form of legal extortion: "Give us a bunch of money to drop the suit or you'll have to pay a lot more money to an attorney to defend yourself!"

VCDL was in good company - Righthaven filed at least 276 such lawsuits in a little over a year! These suits were going to be a primary source of income for Righthaven.

A list of all those sued by Righthaven (VCDL is number 142 on the list) can be found here:

http://www.righthavenlawsuits.com/lawsuits.html


HOW THE SCHEME WORKED

Righthaven would scan the internet for anyone having stories on their website from the Las Vegas Review-Journal or from a few other selected newspapers. Once a story was found, then Righthaven would buy the litigation rights to that story from the newspaper, and without any warning immediately sue the company, organization, or individual that had posted the story.

In VCDL's case, Righthaven was seeking $150,000 from us and to have the "vcdl.org" domain transferred to Righthaven!

To try to twist the rope tighter for a settlement, Jim Snyder, VCDL's Vice President, and I were also named individually as defendants.


VCDL BOARD OF DIRECTORS'S RESPONSE

If Righthaven didn't want a fight, then they picked the wrong organization to sue. The Board simply would not tolerate the idea of caving in to Righthaven and voted unanimously to fight the case to completion. When we stood to fight them, Righthaven's attorneys then hinted to our attorneys that they might consider a smaller out-of-court settlement from us. Settlement was simply out of the question for two reasons: we had done nothing wrong and it would also encourage Righthaven to continue these illegitimate and unfair practices against other companies, groups, and individuals.

Ultimately VCDL believed we would be vindicated because:

* VCDL is a NON-PROFIT corporation. So it could not be claimed that we published the story to make money on it.

* There is a "fair use" exemption in the law for using such a story for educational purposes. BINGO! That's what we use them for every time. Most often I mark up the story with my own comments, as well.

Because VCDL is a corporation, its individual Directors are shielded from most lawsuits. However, that would have still put a draw on personal funds for Jim and me until such time as the courts removed us from the suit.

Also, VCDL had not been given any notification that there was something wrong. Instead Righthaven just sued VCDL out of the clear blue sky, which, of course, was what this was all about from the beginning. Righthaven didn't want us to fix the problem; they wanted our money.


AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY PREDATOR

This attack on VCDL was not about gun rights. If you look at the list of those being sued, you'll notice no common thread politically or philosophically. VCDL had unfortunately caught a predator's attention and was dragged into a fight.


WHERE WE ARE NOW

Always frugal with membership funds, the VCDL Board of Directors felt that we didn't need to contact members for money to support the fight, as we felt we would win and could sue to get our very costly legal expenses reimbursed. The problem is that the firms which stood up and fought back, like VCDL was doing, were winning their cases as they came up, which ultimately caused Righthaven to go broke!

So by the time the show-cause judicial hearing came up, Righthaven, seeing the writing on the wall, didn't even show up. Righthaven's case against VCDL has been dismissed, but VCDL is left with $30,000 in legal fees with no chance of recovery from our now financially defunct accuser.

While we are pleased and relieved that Righthaven did not succeed in its morally and ethically corrupt mission against us, the depletion of VCDL's cash flow in defending against them seriously harms our immediate capability to successfully engage attacks to our rights on all fronts.

We need YOUR help now!

As you know, we as an organization rarely ask for money even though that is the grease that allows the wheels to turn. And we would not be asking now if it wasn't critical. You can rest assured that we will continue to spend carefully and frugally as though the money comes from all of our own pockets (because we understand that it does!)

Thanks in advance for anything you can do to help us continue our most urgent mission to safeguard and advance our right to keep and bear arms in Virginia.

To donate to VCDL, please click on this link:\

https://mobipledge.mobi/vcdl/webpledge/index.php

Thanks!

--

A small sampling of historical information on the RIghthaven lawsuits:

A group countersues early on:

From the Las Vegas Sun: http://tinyurl.com/d72rz7g

Things begin to unravel:

From the Las Vegas Sun: http://tinyurl.com/4abdhrq

VCDL's case is dismissed:

From Vegas Inc.: http://tinyurl.com/7a3t3gm
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Old May 4, 2012, 12:46 AM   #2
KyJim
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I just thought I would add that enough people fought Righthaven's predatory practice that they are essentially out of business with their worthless "copyrights" being auctioned off to pay attorney fees of those they wrongly sued. There is a whole website listing court actions, articles, etc. http://www.righthavenlawsuits.com/index.html. The latest article they list shows almost no market for the sale of their worthless copyrights. http://www.vegasinc.com/news/2012/ma...ven-copyright/
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Old May 4, 2012, 01:51 AM   #3
Silver Bullet
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Join Date: June 6, 2001
Location: Arizona
Posts: 992
Is there a way to donate without providing personal information (name, address, etc.) ?
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Old May 4, 2012, 07:45 AM   #4
Mike Irwin
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Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 36,244
Well, the only way to do it would be either by credit card or check/money order.

Check out their website at www.VCDL.org

Note that donations for this are not tax deductible.


That's exactly the problem, Jim. There's virtually no hope of VCDL recovering anything from Righthaven, which already has nearly $250,000 (by my quick count) of judgements against it, more likely coming, and no assets of any type.

I keep hoping that someone will disbar Righthaven's principle, but so far nothing.

We at TFL were following this from an early point in time. We felt that the entire thing was a sham, but that until it collapsed it posed significant danger to TFL, which is why we clamped down hard and fast on copyrighted materials.

We also spent a significant amount of time and energy going back through the more than 1 million posts here to ferret out anything that might be an issue. It was not an easy task.
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Old May 4, 2012, 12:58 PM   #5
Mr. James
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Join Date: April 10, 2001
Location: The Old Dominion
Posts: 1,521
Thanks for posting this, Mike. I had received the original VCDL Alert and meant to cut a check, but it slipped (what's left of) my mind.

The VCDL is an outstanding organization.
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Old May 4, 2012, 09:22 PM   #6
egor20
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Not a VCDL member but M/O sent, just not a big joiner.

NAVY
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Again
Volunteer
Yourself

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