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Righthaven, the "copyright troll"

January 16, 2011

Tags: Righthaven, fair use, Digital Millennium Copyright Act

Righthaven, a Las Vegas firm, is making a business of suing nonprofits and individuals who reprint whole newspaper articles and images on their websites without clearing permission (Righthaven: saving the newspaper industry, one lawsuit at a time). The people Righthaven sues are often the sources for the very stories they're suing about, says Ars Technica.

Funded by the Las Vegas Review Journal, Righthaven sues random websites for copyright infringement for posting articles, or snippets of articles on their sites, often with a linkback, writes TechDirt, though one judge dismissed a case which struck him as fair use (Righthaven Loses First Lawsuit; Judge Says Copying Was Fair Use, Ars Technica). Unfortunately, says TechDirt, the case was not dismissed in another court, where a site was sued for content posted by a user on a user-generated site.

Righthaven buys the license to articles wrongly reprinted on several websites, registers their copyright, then sues for damages the owners of websites that post the articles. Most sites cave in and pay up (typically a few thousand dollars), because their owners can't afford court battles. Righthaven also seeks forfeiture of the website domain of those it sues. Righthaven is exploiting a loophole in copyright law, explains Wired Magazine , suing only sites "that have not registered a Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown agent. The $105 filing fee more often than not would prevent a lawsuit in the first place."
See The $105 Fix That Could Protect You From Copyright-Troll Lawsuits (David Kravets, Wired, 10-27-10). Download this form (PDF) from the Copyright Office and file it!

FOR PERSPECTIVE ON THE BROADER ISSUES, SEE
Copyright troll (Wikipedia) 'A copyright troll is a party (person or company) that enforces copyrights it owns for purposes of making money through litigation, in a manner considered unduly aggressive or opportunistic, generally without producing or licensing the works it owns for paid distribution. Critics object to the activity because they believe it does not encourage the production of creative works, but instead makes money through the inequities and unintended consequences of high statutory damages provisions in copyright laws intended to encourage creation of such works....It is distinguished from organizations such as ASCAP, which collect royalties and enforce copyrights of its members.'
Patent troll (Wikipedia) 'Patent troll is a categorical or pejorative term applied to person or company that attempts to enforce patent rights against accused infringers far beyond the patent's actual value or contribution to the prior art,[1] often through hardball legal tactics (frivolous litigation, vexatious litigation, SLAPP, chilling effects, and the like). Patent trolls often do not manufacture products or supply services based upon the patents in question. However, some entities which do not practice their asserted patent may not be considered "patent trolls" when they license their patented technologies on reasonable terms in advance.'

Comments

  1. August 6, 2017 4:34 PM EDT
    There are also patent trolls, of which this is just one example. Trend Micro sues Barracuda, potentially raises the cost of security for all (Matt Asay, C/Net, 2-1-08) Trend Micro has sued Barracuda Networks and, by extension, the entire open-source community, over a specious patent infringement claim. Unfortunately, our patent system only makes sense on paper. Once it hits the courts, all bets are off. This is why repudiating silly claims like Trend Micro's is so important, and why a collective response is critical.
    - PM