Armed Citizen Lawsuit Update

David Burnette has posted an update on the lawsuit against The Armed Citizen blog. He gets to the heart of the matter pretty quickly.

When people start using the law in unorthodox ways to bully or extort from small nonprofit blogs, you don’t want to cave to them. Then you find out just how much it costs to stand on principle. Righthaven knows the breaking point for most people, hence the multiple low-key settlements.

He also notes the bad strategy involved.

For a company that goes around slapping bloggers with lawsuits, Righthaven’s decision to put The Armed Citizen in its sights may be imprudent. The owners hardly get rich off this site, and when the main contributor is a young kid fresh out of college, the financial returns aren’t going to be very handsome.

In short, these are the wrong pockets to pick.


The publicity of this may be another factor Righthaven neglected. Already, the Review-Journal’s rival paper, the Las Vegas Sun, is running stories on these lawsuits. ran a story which was then linked to on the Drudge Report. Reason magazine and World Net Daily are among other popular sources that have run with this story, along with countless bloggers.

He also notes some important points in their favor.

There is also a powerful argument in favor of fair use. According to, “The distinction between fair use and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission.”

Given the noncommercial and scholarly nature of the website, and the fact that we were collecting thousands of stories for the purposes of a silent-but-deafening commentary on armed self-defense – which recent events prove to be a pivotal issue of debate from both a Constitutional and a societal point of view – may contribute to a strong case for fair use.

Neither Clayton nor David have been served yet, and the case can’t proceed until we have received formal notice.

I’d be careful about that last point. There’s a thing called constructive notice, which means that if you have actually been notified the lack of formal notice doesn’t keep the case from going forward. I don’t know if it applies here, and I assume that they do have an attorney involved, but since they have publicly posted that they’re aware of the suit they shouldn’t assume formal notice is required.

And an interesting fact.

Righthaven actually secured the copyright in July…or, nearly two months after the article appeared on the website. In other words, Righthaven attorneys preparing their litigious blitzkrieg found the article (likely because we linked back to their website), and in order to pursue statutory damages (as opposed to actual damages, which would be little to none), secured a copyright to the article after the fact.

Seems odd if all they wanted was to protect their work, doesn’t it?

(h/t Linoge at Walls of the City)

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