A company working on behalf of a Las Vegas newspaper has filed a spate of copyright-infringement lawsuits against as many as 80 individuals and publications since March, and now bloggers reveal the CEO may have crossed paths with Barack and Michelle Obama during their stints at a Chicago law firm.

According to Wired.com, copyright group Righthaven has filed more than 80 federal lawsuits against websites and bloggers who posted articles from the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Wired.com has described the copyright suits as a new “business plan.”

The media site said the strategy is to “monetize news content on the backend, by scouring the Internet for infringing copies … then suing and relying on the harsh penalties in the Copyright Act … to compel quick settlements.”

According to his online work profile, Steven A. Gibson, CEO of Righthaven, studied law at the Chicago-Kent University of Law and graduated with honors in 1990. The Godlike Productions blog noted Gibson worked as an associate at corporate-law firm Sidley Austin L.L.P. – the Chicago firm where Obama met his wife.

As WND reported, Michelle Obama was an associate at Sidley Austin from 1988 to 1991. Her specialty was marketing and intellectual property.

Michelle was assigned to mentor summer associate and future husband Barack Obama, who interned there after his first year at Harvard Law School.

Sidley Austin was founded by liberal activist Howard Trienens. According to The Washington Post, Sidley Austin offered Barack Obama a job upon his graduation from Harvard, but the future president declined. He explained that he wanted to go into politics and that Michelle would be leaving the firm to go with him.

Likewise, White House copyright czar Victoria Espinel has a history working with Sidley Austin’s New York office. She worked there from 1991 to 1996.

WND reported when Armed Citizen, a popular blog that has kept citizens abreast of how Americans successfully defend themselves from crime by being armed, was suspended while its organizers dealt with a copyright-infringement claim filed by Righthaven LLC, apparently working on behalf of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

At issue for the Armed Citizen are six stories originating from the Las Vegas Review-Journal that had been cited on the website over the years.

“The Armed Citizen has been excerpting articles from newspaper, TV station and radio-station websites for a number of years without a single complaint or infringement notice,” Armed Citizen’s David Burnett wrote in a website statement. “If any copyright holders decided that The Armed Citizen had exceeded fair use, they only needed to send us an e-mail.

“Until this matter can be resolved, and a thorough review of Armed Citizen content can be made, all updates and archives at The Armed Citizen are hereby suspended,” he wrote. “At this time, the future of The Armed Citizen is uncertain, and possibly in jeopardy, thanks to Righthaven LLC and the Las Vegas Review-Journal.”

In an e-mail to WND, Burnett said the website had received no notice of any problem before the lawsuit was filed. The website said some of the stories were “short enough to qualify under the Fair Use Rule,” while all of them were “properly cited and attributed.”

Godlike Productions notes that aside from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Righthaven also represents numerous other publications.

A list of ongoing copyright-infringement lawsuits from Righthaven is available online.

Gibson told Wired.com, “Frankly, I think we’re having tremendous success at a number of levels. We file new complaints every day.”

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