Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

September 4, 2010

Open Topic Discussion - September 2010

Posted by Hunter

Here's this month's open topic discussion for y'all to use if you'd like.

For me, one of the topics that's been fascinating for me to watch is the ongoing battle between Righthaven LLC and the rest of the world. After they sued Senate candidate Sharon Angle, the shit really hit the fan.

Steve seems to be at least partially responsible for this latest salvo.

What's my take on all of this? I pay a bunch of people to create content for me and I certainly believe in strong protections against it being used without my consent. That said, some of these cases seem like using an atomic bomb on an ant hill - a bit of an overreaction.

I'm fascinated to see how this shakes out, especially if the EFF gets involved and backs one of the defendants in an attempt to set some precedent.

Anyway, open topic away...


Read archived comments (42 so far)
September 4, 2010 6:45 PM Posted by detroit1051

First, I learned something new. I never heard of EFF before. Second, although the RJ and Righthaven have the right to, and should, protect their content, the RJ's approach, through Righthaven, just seems sleazy based on the anecdotal reports about some of their targets such as the cat blog. The only way I can protest is to not read the RJ any more, and I don't. The information contained therein can be found elsewhere on the Internet or in the Las Vegas Sun. I'm just sorry that the RJ is the dominent newspaper in Las Vegas, not the Sun.

September 4, 2010 6:47 PM Posted by Hunter

Ah yes, EFF is the Electronic Frontier Foundation - they're a watchdog group that's into privacy, online community, freedom of electronic press, etc...

September 4, 2010 7:08 PM Posted by VegasPhotog

This subject has been on my mind and bothering for weeks. I completely understand the need for 'content producers' to be able to protect their work.

But I don't understand why Righthaven is going about this in such a (IMO) heavy-handed way.

I've been reading case-law on copyrights. Sometimes the infringed content can be impounded and confiscated.

Now...that might have been the way to do it in the old-days...when the infringed material was in print form...and the infringer had to 'turn-over' the stolen content.

But this is 2010 and Righthaven (as far as I know) is trying to impound people's entire websites, even though the infringed-content has already been deleted.

I've never, in my life, heard of a 'damaged-party' being able to confiscate someone's business name (and website). This (IMO) is going way too far and I hope some major-league defense teams will come and squash (IMO) Righthaven's (what I believe to be) Gestapo-like tactics.

In the case against Sharron Angle they are planning to impound her own personal domain name of Now...I don't even like this lady, but I wish her all the luck in the world in fighting this.

Side-Note: I have color Rock & Roll photos from the 1970s. I wouldn't even think about placing my most valuable material on the Internet...since it would likely end up being taken from the Internet and sold in swap-meets in Finland or Russia.

Most people realize that Internet content will be passed along to others. That's the nature of this new Info-Age we live in.

Righthaven (IMO) is under the assumption that the digital world is supposed to work in the same strict fashion as the print-world. They have an (IMO) antiquated mind-set that's not liberal enough for the Internet-World.

I surely don't want to debate anyone here about the value of content or the meaning of copyright law. I rely on it as do all others.

But, I sure can't go along with the (IMO) weird way Righthaven is attempting to enforce their copyright claims.

This thing of impounding domain names and websites is a threat to every one's civil and constitutional rights (IMHO).

Righthaven's methods realy, really bother me.

September 4, 2010 7:14 PM Posted by steve_c

Chuck hinted at some MAJOR CityCenter news coming this week? Sounds bad. Anyone want to take a guess?

September 4, 2010 7:16 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

I've asked this on other sites the past couple days, but I haven't gotten an answer yet, so--the only reason I can think of for Stephens Media to engage in these actions is to stop erosion of eyeballs looking at advertising on Is there another net result that helps the business of the R-J?
I know there are services that measure web hits. Is that something that is availabe at no cost, or is it subscription? I am very interested to find out if web traffic has changed since these lawsuits have begun. I have cut my web viewing by over 90% since this started ,kinda as a protest, and I am intersted to see if I am alone or if others have shied away from that site for some related reason.
I think this is a gross overreaction to a changing business by aging men who decided to say "I'm mad as Hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!" I also think that if this was a smart business strategy other media sites would have followed suit. My understanding is that no one else in America is doing this. I. Wonder. Why?

September 4, 2010 7:26 PM Posted by Hunter

I don't know exactly what he has planned but I have a big CC piece coming in the next few days with a bunch of info never before published.

September 4, 2010 7:38 PM Posted by detroit1051

When I saw that ChuckMonster was planning a piece on CC, I thought it might be a joint venture with Hunter. Can't wait for both pieces.

September 4, 2010 8:11 PM Posted by hail2skins

Really interested in the City Center big news as well. Wonder if this is about Aria or other places within the complex. I visited Aria a few times earlier this week and wasn't overly impressed with the place.

I wonder when we're going to hear about the sale of another MGM property. A Mirage employee told me it was his impression that negotations were still ongoing to sell Mirage to possibly both Ruffin and Trump, but one sticking point seemed to center around the value of the Mirage name.

September 4, 2010 8:21 PM Posted by detroit1051

Hail, weren't you at Encore this past week? How was it?

September 5, 2010 2:05 AM Posted by mike_ch

Hunter and VegasPhotog asked why Righthaven is doing this.

They're doing it because making money in the city sucks for everyone, and some of the attorneys in the town (not all of them, but a few bad eggs ruin the batch for many) saw a way to make some money.

Not that the law is necessarily wholly on their side here, Righthaven has been going along suing people who mostly can't afford to be sued. The Angle campaign is interesting because it's one of those targets with cash and can afford to challenge them. Otherwise, most of the people they're going after aren't equipped to prove if their case has no legs, and you typically have to make a case in court in order to be cleared.

The whole thing is a honeypot for Vegas attorneys since Righthaven attempts to have all cases moved to Nevada, making a really thin claim that that's where the law was being broken for no reason other than that the RJ is based there. Apparently the accused's location matters not. As everybody who saw the OJ trial remembers, even if you have other legal consultants you need to have a Nevada attorney to represent you in Nevada courtrooms, therefore all these RJ suits have the potential to bring a lot of out-of-state customers to the law offices around the state.

Since I'm pretty much not making any effort to hide how much I dislike Vegas anymore (which would raise the question of why I'm still here, but I'll avoid that for now), I'll just go ahead and say the "justice" system there is pretty exposed as a bit of a delicate charade to begin with in recent years. Hundreds of RJ lawsuits flooding up the works is probably not going to help matters.

I wonder when the state chapter of the ACLU is going to step up and do something to help people here, but they seem to be occupied defending the public's right to turn the Strip's sidewalks and bridges into flea markets.

Anyone who says that "loser pays attorney fees" is the answer to frivolous lawsuits, look at what's going on here and weep. These lawsuits are pretty frivolous, but the majority of them will immediately default to whoever has the deepest pockets before an argument was ever presented.

September 5, 2010 6:28 AM Posted by Sean


I was at Encore for 4 nights this past weekend. It was great but not without incident. If anybody is interested, I can write a trip report.

September 5, 2010 6:43 AM Posted by Jeff in OKC

Thanks for the rant, Mike, but I think you're missing the point. RightHaven is a side player here. The R-J is the one who decided to do what no one else in America thought was a good idea, RightHaven is just who they set up in the enforcer role. My original question is still waiting for an answer--is this course of action getting more eyeballs to look at R-J online advertising?
My personal opinion is that this will supress viewership of in the long run. I don't see how this can possibly help.
Regarding Sharron Angle, I think she is going to lose in November and her political career will be over. I think a Bible believing, grandmother in her 60's will gravitate toward the traditional "Golden Years" role. Her campaign could end up with zero cash by the time this would go to trial and there is no way they can seize a site that is her name, imo. I think cyber law has become pretty specific about that. The net result for RJ-RH could be nothing on this one.

September 5, 2010 7:01 AM Posted by detroit1051

I, for one, would love a trip report on Encore!

September 5, 2010 7:49 AM Posted by Mark

My guess on the CC news would be that it has something to do with Dubai World, since they are shorting assets all over the world as a last option attempt to formulate a plan by October 1 to restructure their debt. When John Paulson recently bought his stake in MGM documents revealed DW's interest in selling the CC asset (but keeping the MGM stake).

September 5, 2010 8:41 AM Posted by mike_ch

Jeff: Righthaven has another paper now, if I remember right. I think less that the RJ went to the lawfirm with this idea, but that the law firm saw a way to drum up business and started by pitching it to their own backyard.

I doubt that Righthaven can get Angle's domain. It's her name, after all. Domain disputes are handled by ICANN and are decided on whether the squatter is deliberately trying to screw with the victim and confuse people. That's why Chuck's letter about Wynncore amused me, because it's not a Nevada court that has jurisdiction over that kind of thing.

September 5, 2010 9:34 AM Posted by Jeff in OKC

Mike, I haven't read that Righthaven had added a paper. Can you find out any info, such as name, city and if it's a Stephens paper?I

September 5, 2010 11:53 AM Posted by Jeff Simpson

The Sun's Steve Green reported on Aug. 26th that Righthaven is now representing Wehco Media, a newspaper company based in Little Rock. Green's story noted that Wehco owns "15 daily newspapers, 13 weekly newspapers and 13 cable television companies in Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee. Its biggest papers include the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock and the Chattanooga Times Free Press in Tennessee."

September 5, 2010 12:27 PM Posted by MIzzouGypsy

Jeff in OKC -

It's WEHCO Media, based in Little Rock (former base of Stephens Media, btw).

They own 10 papers in 3 states, plus cable/internet services.

September 5, 2010 12:29 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

Jeff, since you are in the "industry" and Wehco is from Arkansas, do you know if they are-A. Stephens owned, B. Stephens affiliated, or C. just a coincidence?

September 5, 2010 1:29 PM Posted by Jeff Simpson

Jeff, Stephens and Wehco are joint-venture partners in an Arkansas company that publishes a bunch of small- and medium-sized newspapers. I don't believe Wehco is Stephens-owned.

September 5, 2010 1:41 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

To paraphrase Mack Brown "Let me anwser that for Jeff". WEHCO has a Joint Operating Agreement with Stephens Media regarding their newspapers in Northwest Arkansas. I intrepit the Arkansas JOA to be different from the Greenspun JOA, in that one entity handles all the editorial, while the other handles all the advertising and distribution.
Regardless, IMO, the WEHCO group is just an extension of Stephens, as it pertains to Righthaven.

September 6, 2010 9:02 AM Posted by parchedearth

My view of the situation is that the LVRJ is losing money to the point of desperation. As a result, they let themselves get talked into allowing Righthaven to file these suits on their behalf on a contingency basis. Righthaven likely gets to keep 40% of what they collect from these suits. There is probably a gung-ho, no ethics, partner at Righthaven who just sees the dollar signs and was also desperate to build a book of business.
Unfortunately this type of thing happens all the time only out of the public view. Suing Angle was a big mistake in my opinion and might have been done to grab headlines. Once they realized this wasn't going to work as a financial bonanza, they decided to go for notoriety instead.

September 6, 2010 9:05 PM Posted by Jeff in OKC

So, Hunter, you got anything cooking on the MGM Front?

September 6, 2010 9:06 PM Posted by Hunter

Tune in tomorrow @ 9am PT.

September 7, 2010 7:20 AM Posted by Mike P.

Wired has been following the Righthaven story for a few months. Here's a link to a short post about Wehco.

If anyone wants to make their own personal blacklist in Firefox here's a list (scroll down to the end of the comments for a more complete list including Stephen's media sites). Warning: link takes you to a libertarian/conservative blogger -- wouldn't want any lefty heads exploding.

I trust Hunter's CC post has bigger news than the Aria buffet makeover posted on Vegastripping this morning.

September 7, 2010 7:51 AM Posted by detroit1051

Global Gaming Business' cover story is on Jim Allen, CEO of Seminole Gaming which has become a gaming/hotel/restaurant powerhouse since its purchase of Hard Rock International. This story explains the sometimes confusing relationship with Hard Rock Las Vegas and the Seminole properties. Now that the Seminoles have a five year lock on table games in Florida, look for more growth. Seminole Gaming is first rate, but I still would like South Florida to be open for all commercial operators.

September 7, 2010 7:52 AM Posted by Hunter

I hope you find it interesting. Its a three parter, so you really need to read the whole thing to get the full story.

September 7, 2010 8:41 AM Posted by steve_c

The Buffet at Aria is being redone. Is that the big news?

September 7, 2010 8:43 AM Posted by Hunter

It's one small data point in a much larger narrative.

September 7, 2010 9:20 AM Posted by steve_c

Good to know. Seems like now is the time we'll be seeing many "fixes" to the complex.. Does anyone have a link to David McKee's column from yesterday? cant find it anywhere.

September 7, 2010 10:48 AM Posted by jinx

Just to add my own two cents on Righthaven, whether it's right or wrong I don't know, I do find it interesting now that they've actually sued at least one (Sharon Angle) that has more resources then the typical site operator, although you may include their suit against Doak too. Doak is a publicist company that RH is suing for articles posted to their site that contained Doak's PR releases (a bit ironic actually).

Anyway, I've quit following anything associated with the LVRJ. While I can't speak as a lawyer, I find the practice a bit disgusting as a cease and desist letter first would in my opinion be a far more effective way of 'protecting their copyright" and not look like a cash money grab that this essentially is. So whether or not their suits are justified legally, I find them unreasonable and will not allow the Review Journal to benefit from any advertising that I would be supporting by viewing their site. This includes all cancelled twitter feeds to, as I see no reason to follow an organization that doesn't want to reasonably co exist with the rest of the web.

September 7, 2010 2:28 PM Posted by doc_al

"I see no reason to follow an organization that doesn't want to reasonably co exist with the rest of the web"

That about sums it up for me as well. And I'm not going to put any web community I'm a part of at risk by posting a link to that paper's site and giving the rats at RightHaven the opportunity to bring a suit (justified or not).

September 8, 2010 7:40 AM Posted by Phil

In off topic mode, I ran across a new site somebody developed on the Dunes. The video they show on the homepage is a worthwhile watch.

September 8, 2010 9:40 PM Posted by detroit1051

Phil, that was great. I remember the Dunes very well. The front entrance must be where Bellagio's lake is now. The mob really knew how to run casinos. MGM must sometimes wish the golf course was still there instead of CityCenter.

September 9, 2010 3:53 AM Posted by mike_ch

Wynn has said in interviews that the entire Dunes could fit in the lake and Bellagio was built on the golf course behind it.

Prior to CityCenter, the space was an employee lot and a lot of tacky trinket stores.

September 13, 2010 8:37 PM Posted by detroit1051

"MGM Resorts plans to renovate 4,000 rooms at the MGM Grand beginning in October, and renovate Bellagio's high-limit slot area."
Bellagio has been talking about changing the high limit slot room since 2005, and MGM Grand's rooms are in desperate need of updating.

September 15, 2010 10:03 AM Posted by Mike P.

Fontana Bar is alive, and as far as I can tell, well.

It's still being used for WPT tournaments and high roller events, but the rest of the time it's one of the few venues on the strip that hosts live music acts with real musicians.

Posted here instead of the 3 year old post that got a recent comment.

September 15, 2010 10:59 AM Posted by detroit1051

Mike P is right. Someone got caught up in a three year old post about Fontana closing, I have no problem with MGM maximizing Fontana's great space for poker tournaments and even some high limit buy-in slot tournaments. Several photos of tournaments on this page were held in Fontana, a smart decision for high roller events:

September 15, 2010 5:45 PM Posted by Jason Robar

According to Norm Clarke on his twitter feed, MGM has shuffled up their management.
End result:
Gamal Aziz moves up to MGM International
Scott Sibella to MGM Grand
Felix Rappaport to Mirage
Rene West to Luxor/Excalibur
Chuck Bowling to Mandalay Bay

September 17, 2010 11:08 AM Posted by mike_ch

The real news there is that Luxor is apparently no longer worthy of it's own leadership, as Rene West was already Excalibur before that. She's overseen a few good changes at that property. The changes to Luxor under Felix Rappaport weren't exactly what the place really needed nor really complete. Don't know if you can blame him entirely (higher ups started getting their hands into the other hotels' budgets to pay for CityCenter) but his move to Mirage doesn't forebode good news for that property, but hopefully he'll freshen up their casino selection because the slots there are very old.

I was just thinking to myself today: Why have none of the casinos made an offer for Michael Buble? I'm not really a fan, but I can see him either at Wynn once Garth is done, or if MGM had more creativity in their entertainment braintrust than just yet another Cirque show for CityCenter. He seems like one of those entertainers who would have a lot of classic Vegas appeal and people would be willing to shell out money for.

It would certainly beat the pants off Matt Goss.

September 17, 2010 11:50 AM Posted by detroit1051

Mike_ch, that's why when the MGM management announcements were made, I tweeted that Rappaport's move made me think The Mirage would be sold. I still think (with no knowledge) that Rappaport was moved because of dissatisfaction with him at Luxor, and that he's a caretaker at The Mirage.

September 21, 2010 5:03 AM Posted by detroit1051

While reading the Cosmopolitan story in Hotel Interactive that Jeff Simpson linked, I came across the lead story, "Bed Bugs Are Back." We are being influenced on a daily basis by all media on the bed bug epidemic in America. When Niketown's flagship store in NYC is closed for fumigation because of bed bugs, you know it's serious. Some New Yorkers were quoted that they will no longer go to theaters due to the fear of bed bugs.
How seriously is Las Vegas taking this, whether it's real or hype, and what are properties there doing about it? Can the fear have an effect on tourism levels?