Friday, July 23, 2010

A new way for newspapers to make money

A Las Vegas firm named Righthaven has opened with the sole purpose of enforcing the copyrights of newspapers by suing blogs and websites that re-post articles without permission, Wired magazine reports.

The vision of Righthaven chief executive Steve Gibson is to scour the internet for infringing copies of his client’s articles. Then he sues, relying on the harsh penalties in the Copyright Act — up to $150,000 for a single infringement — to compel quick settlements, according to Wired.

Wired reports that since Righthaven’s formation in March, the company has filed at least 80 federal lawsuits against website operators and individual bloggers who’ve re-posted articles from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, his first client.

The Wired story says: "The Review-Journal’s publisher, Stephens Media in Las Vegas, runs over 70 other newspapers in nine states, and Gibson says he already has an agreement to expand his practice to cover those properties."

Actually, Stephens (formerly known as Donrey Media Group) only owns about 30 papers outright -- in Nevada, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Washington and Hawaii. But it is a minority shareholder in the MediaNews Group newspapers in California, including the Mercury News, Contra Costa Times, Marin Independent Journal, San Mateo County Times, etc.

The "70 newspapers" probably includes the MediaNews properties in which Stephens is a shareholder, so it may not be long before MNG is suing people through Righthaven who use their content.

Wired interviewed Fred Bouzek, a Virginia man who runs a user-generated site about hardcore biker news, who was sued by Righthaven last week on allegations the site ran a Las Vegas Review-Journal story about police going under cover with the Hell’s Angels. Bouzek said that even if he had grounds to fight the case, he says it would be cheaper to settle. “The only choice I have is to try to raise money and offer a settlement,” he says.

The story about Righthaven comes less than a month after a Denver political blogger announced he had received a cease-and-desist letter from several newspapers in Colorado including MediaNews Group's Denver Post for quoting copyrighted material.

Also read: An earlier story on Righthaven by MediaPost.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

that headline is a joke, right? chains like medianews can't possibly be thinking suing people would become a revenue stream.

Bart T said...

You missed the political angle -- "... Righthaven so far has not filed suits against any right-wing organizations or Republican groups that the paper currently appears to support." http://www.the-peoples-forum.com/cgi-bin/readart.cgi?ArtNum=19628

Anonymous said...

I for one think this is a good idea; it bothers me that something I wrote, my hard work is being confiscated by someone else and then they charge to have others read it.
They didn't write the story, didn't research, didn't do the interviews; how dare they make money from something that was not their work.
I was insulted recently when I tried to find something I wrote but had to pay and join their service to read it.
I say sue them until it hurts.

Anonymous said...

MediaNews's big boss is Dean Singleton, also chairman of the Associated Press. Under Singleton, AP sued the artist who painted the Obama hope poster, alleging that the artist misappropriated the image from an AP photo. Next thing you know, they'll be suing people who discuss their news stories.

Anonymous said...

Betcha Singleton destroys AP the way he has all of the newspapers he bought. He's a disaster for journalism.

Anonymous said...

Singleton's a savior, a God-send. And I'm sure Dean Lesher is just rolling over in his grave; how did it come to this, a man who doesn't value his employees, is now the largest newspaper holder in the Bay Area.
Makes you sick, enough to tell all local journalism students to move far away, avoid Singleton and his newspapers. You don't want to work for any of his newspapers.

Anonymous said...

1. Median-ews needs to have content worth stealing for this to work. 2. Somebody ought to keep track of all the times a Median-ews reporter steals information from anther publication or broadcaster without attribution, then bill Singleton for the illegal appropriation of copyrighted material. Live by the sword, die by the sword.