Update: Clayton Cramer has decided to hang up his blogging hat due to this suit. It looks like both his personal blog and The Armed Citizen will be shut down. It’s a shame, and the cause behind it is a moral outrage. This looks more and more like the paper’s intent is to bully people into outrageously high settlements to avoid trial, while shutting down or taking control of the competition. Hopefully, someone will be able to get damages from the paper for these frivolous suits. (h/t to Sebastian again)
If it stays up, don’t forget the tip jar at The Armed Citizen. Even if they shut down completely, they’ll still need to defend themselves against this abomination of justice.
Clayton Cramer and David Burnett of The Armed Citizen, are being sued by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Today, The Armed Citizen received informal notice in the form of a media inquiry about a lawsuit against this website and its owners, David Burnett and Clayton Cramer. The lawsuit, reportedly filed in US District Court on July 20th, alleges that The Armed Citizen and its owners “willfully copied” original source content from the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The “offending” entries consist of six stories, some of which were short enough to qualify under the Fair Use Rule, out of nearly 4,700 entries. The six stories are still publicly available on the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s website, to which we linked.
The Armed Citizen has been excerpting articles from newspaper, TV station, and radio station websites for a number of years. If any copyright holders decided that The Armed Citizen had exceeded fair use, they only needed to send us an email. Instead, in a bid to target and intimidate small websites, they have chosen to pursue legal action.
The Complaint can be found here.
What I find especially disturbing is that the paper is trying to gain control of The Armed Citizen domain, in addition to asking for money.
3. Direct GoDaddy and any successor domain name registrar for the Domain to lock the Domain and transfer control of the Domain to Righthaven;
As of now, The Armed Citizen is effectively shut down until further notice, as they review every one of their nearly 5,000 posts to verify that they are in compliance with Fair Use standards.
We have removed all postings except this one until such time as we can carefully review each one for compliance with Fair Use–and it is entirely possible that they will never come back. Make you sure thank the Las Vegas Review-Journal for destroying a valuable gun rights resource
Check out the linked stories at the bottom of The Armed Citizen’s post – it seems this paper is suing several other blogs for the same thing without ever having contacted them with a takedown notice, may be violating campaign finance laws, and have even sued their own source on one story.
This suit is very chilling for bloggers. To the best of my knowledge, The Armed Citizen has only ever posted excerpts of stories except when the story was so short an excerpt would be impractical, and in all cases provided a link and full credit to the original source. This is the usual and accepted practice across the web and the blogosphere when posting about events learned from news stories, and is generally understood to fall under Fair Use exemptions to copyright law. These suits seriously endanger the ability of independent bloggers and webmasters to spread word of events relevant to their readers’ interests.
The blogosphere is the ultimate free press, and the true, unfiltered voice of the people. This must be stopped now, and stopped hard, or it will forever cripple the free media in favor of the old-fashioned monolithic model.
Lawyers are not cheap (I know, I work for one), and they generally charge even more for cases in federal court. The Armed Citizen has a donation button. I encourage my few readers to go and make use of it as soon as possible, and I plan to do so myself come payday.
(h/t Sebastian at Snowflakes in Hell)
Update: Also at Walls of the City, by Linoge, which has unexcuseably been absent from my blogroll – an oversight that I’ve just fixed.