The Supreme Court… Ends up in Federal court, literally.

Yes, you read that right. The marketing concept that the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau has wonderfully created, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” has been somewhat disrupted by the actions of a litigious Las Vegas publisher filing lawsuits in Federal court for copyright infringement on an international scale.

So, this publication, and thousands like it, are now committed to avoiding the publication of any news about Las Vegas or Nevada in general, simply because we fear the cost associated with defending ourselves from lawsuits.

Now these suits are not typical, so our fears are completely justified. For one thing, the usual practice concerning copyright infringements is for the injured party to communicate with the publication accused of the infringement and resolve the matter. Failing that, a lawyer’s letter is usually sent, demanding the resolution and only after that has failed would a suit be filed in a Federal court (because they have jurisdiction over copyright laws). In the case of this litigious publisher and his cohorts, they skip all the preliminary steps and go straight to Federal court.

Literally, what happens in Vegas, becomes a Federal case.

That’s not all that’s abnormal about this. In some of the cases, the only thing published was a link to the content, not the actual content itself. This sets the very dangerous precedent that even to make a link to any company website or content in Nevada will land you in court, so the best course of action for all publishers today is to avoid Nevada like the plague. That’s rather unfortunate as Nevada is a state of great beauty, with considerable attractions, both natural and man-made.

These nuisance suits seem to be brought for political purposes, as they’ve been reported as being against liberal leaning media. Shortly after that was publicized, action was taken against one of our colleagues, who operates an industry professionals website in Britain. We believe the Las Vegas publisher and his lawyer were looking to offset their own bad press.

The precedent these lawsuits are setting is extremely dangerous for the world of publishing, for public relations firms and for advertising, not to mention Nevada tourism. Now, publishing any content, links or commentary, including news, may result in court actions being filed, even if only the smallest access to someone else’s content is published. Publishers will refuse to look at press releases, links between websites that make the Web work so nicely, will be taken down and with the resulting drop in traffic, advertisers will pull out of the market. And it’s not just about web publishing. It wil affect newspapers, magazines, televised media and even radio.

The Vegas publisher and their lawyers are ignoring or re-interpreting the “Fair Use” provisions of the copyright laws, accepted internationally, and in effect, re-writing the laws to suit their own purposes. Whether this is motivated by political reasons or the publisher is using this as a new revenue stream (presuming some of the many being sued will simply pay to make the suits go away) is a matter for others to determine.

No matter what their motivation, on our end, we’ve made our policy never to publish any press releases, or to provide links not already established in future content without the written permission of the author. And to make sure we’re not at risk, we will now charge a fee for any content we do publish that is not created internally.

We apologize to our readers, for it is you who suffer most, as quality content and great information will be withheld from you for no other reason than the fear of being sued.

Please note, we’ve left out the names of the parties, to protect the innocent – us, that is – from legal actions.

We urge our readers to avoid Las Vegas and Nevada, despite the fact that they are really great places to visit. Further, we ask that you call Senator Harry Reid, and demand that his order a Senate inquiry into these legal actions. His office may be reached at (202) 224-3542.

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