EFF Comes Out, Guns Blazing, In Countersuit Against Righthaven & Stepens Media
from the copyright-attack dept
It’s been a not-so-well-kept secret that the EFF has been actively looking for one of the sites sued by Righthaven to help defend, and it’s apparently found one in the forum site, Democratic Underground, filing the response and a series of counterclaims, not just against Righthaven, but against Stephens Media (the publisher of the Las Vegas Review Journal, and the company that funded Righthaven). The Las Vegas Sun has a good overview of the counterclaims and defenses. Helping out the EFF is Andrew Bridges, who is known for challenging questionable copyright lawsuits with creative, but solid, defenses — so some of the defenses here shouldn’t be all that surprising.
Another counterclaim notes that Stephens Media and the LVRJ have their own forums, where they specifically state that it’s impossible to monitor the content in those forums, and they are not responsible for that content — and yet, they are suing another forum owner for content posted by users in that forum. Related to that (but without much elaboration), the counterclaim suggests that LVRJ employees themselves have been reposting copyrighted material that they do not hold the rights to.
Another amusing bit is that the EFF may have caught Righthaven/Stephens Media not obeying the rules that they, themselves, set forth. In earlier discussions over what would count as “fair use,” a Righthaven attorney claimed that two paragraphs from a story would be okay (which is arbitrary and has nothing to do with what the law actually says), but in this case, the EFF notes that the forum user only posted 5 sentences out of a 50 sentence article, suggesting that it was clearly fair use.
The counterclaims also make a pretty strong argument that there is minimal harm done in the type of copying done here, noting that if Righthaven actually owns the copyright, there’s no evidence that it is trying to license it or to make money from it in any way other than through these lawsuits. It also points out that, the forum posting that they’re suing about, increased traffic to their site rather than decreased it, and that they likely profited from advertising on the page from the visits sent by the Democratic Underground forum. As for the Democratic Underground site making money from the content, they point out that the page generated all of about $1 in ad revenue.
The response also asks for attorney’s fees from Righthaven and Stephens Media. While that may be a longshot, if they get it, it certainly would put a pretty big bite into whatever money Righthaven and Stephens have made from previous lawsuits.