Las Vegas Review-Journal Thinks Suing Sites Over Copyright Will Mean More People Link To It

from the uh,-try-less dept

We’ve been following the lawsuits filed by Righthaven for a few months now. If you haven’t been following the story, this is the company, funded by the owner of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, that is suing a bunch of sites (over 100, and increasing rapidly) for reposting content from the LVRJ. In many cases, the lawsuits hit message boards, where the site owners have clear DMCA protections. Also, Righthaven does not issue any DMCA takedown notices — it just goes straight to suing. Joe Mullin has a story about Righthaven that includes a few more details, including the fact that about 30% of those sued have settled — but for amounts ranging from $2,185 to $5,000 — well below the $75,000 demanded. And, none of the settlements have resulted in anyone turning over their domain, as demanded. So, if we assume 30 of the lawsuits have paid $5,000 (we’ll take the upper bound), that’s $150,000 over the course of about 4 or 5 months. Take away the “cost” of buying the copyrights, and filing the lawsuits (a few hundred bucks) and this hasn’t been a hugely lucrative business. Some of the sites that haven’t settled are gearing up to fight this in court (we’ve heard from a bunch), and suddenly whatever Righthaven earned seems to go negative fast if it has to spend time in a courtroom.

But, even more ridiculous are the laughable claims from Steve Gibson, the guy behind Righthaven, and Mark Hineuber, the general counsel for the parent company of the LVRJ. Hineuber is claiming:

“My hope,” says Hinueber, “is we will raise awareness of copyright laws, and have more links back to our site, and have less of our material infringed on the Internet.”

Yeah, right. Suing people linking to you is going to get more links? Considering that some of the examples of sites being sued included one that posted just 4 paragraphs of a 34-paragraph article… with a link, it seems that these lawsuits are almost guaranteed to lead to less linking.

Gibson keeps claiming that his is not a legal shakedown business, but a technology business. This is pretty laughable too. If they invested in technology beyond “searching Google,” they’ve wasted money here. But even more ridiculous is the claim that this somehow makes business sense:

“Since the advent of the Internet, there has been an ocean of infringements of copyright that have gone unaddressed,” Gibson says. “I’ve also seen that many media companies have been facing financial difficulties. I was inspired to pursue technological solutions and marry them with the available legal machinery.”

Actually, no, that’s not true. It hasn’t gone unaddressed. Lots of companies have tried suing, and so far it’s been a dismal failure, costing a lot more money than it ever brought it and calling much more attention to the ability to infringe. To ignore that basic history is pretty laughable.

Amusingly, the article also has the Righthaven folks admitting some “kinks” that need “to be worked out,” such as the time it sued the very source for an article (apparently, this has happened more than once). In the one case that we wrote about, after that came to light, Righthaven dropped the lawsuit. I’m guessing that after some more lawyers start fighting back against Righthaven, it’s going to discover quite a few more “kinks” in its system.

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Companies: righthaven

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Comments on “Las Vegas Review-Journal Thinks Suing Sites Over Copyright Will Mean More People Link To It”

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23 Comments
Brian (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Unless they drop the lawsuits right before it goes to court and say it was a “mistake” and they “apologize”. Then they go after the next wave of “infringers” and do the same thing over and over. Most will fight the lawsuits, but some will pay up. So they will have to drop the lawsuits again as a “mistake”. It can’t go on forever before most people realize whats going on, but they gotta make money somehow. Adapting to a changing market isn’t an option since that’s progress and innovation, something we can’t have in a world run by lawyers.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

Re: Re: stupid

So there’s a difference in how you cook and present Representatives and Senators?

Would you suggest a 5 course meals for Senators and a quick stir fry for House of Representatives members?

For those of us in a Parliamentary system based on London that would be 5 course meals for front bench Cabinet members and a stir fry for everyone else. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: stupid

Well, for House Reps, they have a reputation for having a weaker flavor, so you may need to marinade the shit out of them. Since they’re a tough kind of meat, I suggest something strong, like equal parts Balsamic Vinegar and Worstecer Sauce.

Senators, on the other hand, are known for having an overbearing flavor. Let’s be honest, their taste/smell can simply take over a room. Your best bet with them is to temper them down, either by a light soak in a flavorful red wine (cabernet sauvignon works best), or even a light garlic butter sauce to provide a strong base flavor.

Either way, once you’ve done that, you’ll want to throw either on the grill and make sure you cook them real good. Both House Reps and Senators tend to carry small but debilitating diseases that will thieve away your hope for the world (not, oddly, unlike a Dementor, except real). An open grill should get the grate up to at least 400 degrees, a closed grill can be less, like 350 degrees.

Either way, feed some of the House Rep or Senator to your dog first. If the dog does not immediately goose step over to the television to watch either Fox News or MSNBC, you should be in the clear….

(As a side note, it strikes me that a parody cook book in which it discusses how to cook all the things we hate in this world and all the funny “dangers” posed by them might be worth exploring….)

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 stupid

“(Actually it would be worth exploring, wouldn’t it? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Got me thinking now, you have, about who and what to cook next.)”

BTW, not sure if anyone is still reading this thread, but I am starting the TechDirt Cookbook with this previous example as the basis for the first “recipe”. If anyone would like to help or has suggestions, please let me know….

Marc J. Randazza (profile) says:

Link Boycott

Bias alert – I represented NORML vs. Righthaven, and I represent a number of other Righthaven defendants.

This “purpose” seems like an after-the-fact and cooked up tale to try and control the negative publicity that these suits have brought raining down on the Las Vegas Review Journal. From what I have seen, many of the defendants DID provide back-links.

If anything, this is likely to result in a link boycott rather than more links to the LVRJ.

average_joe says:

Re: Link Boycott

NORML just settled, right? Considering NORML didn’t host any of the files it’s a shame you guys didn’t fight back, especially since statutory damages weren’t on the table. I get the desire to avoid the cost of litigation though.

Does linking back to the article somehow change whether it’s copyright infringement or not? I didn’t think so, but if it does, please do tell.

Righthavenvictims (user link) says:

Re: Link Boycott

I was disgusted reading it — I couldn’t finish. It was clearly designed to help patch up the negative publicity. Has anyone created an official “Boycott Righthaven” button that webmasters can place on their webpage? Maybe in two sizes 88×31 and 120×60:
http://www.iab.net/iab_products_and_industry_services/1421/1443/1452

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Link Boycott

I was disgusted reading it — I couldn’t finish. It was clearly designed to help patch up the negative publicity. Has anyone created an official “Boycott Righthaven” button that webmasters can place on their webpage? Maybe in two sizes 88×31 and 120×60:

But Righthaven doesn’t have any business to “boycott.” Wouldn’t it make more sense to boycott the LVRJ?

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