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.