Does Righthaven Have the Right to Sue for Copyright Infringement?

Lora Bentley

While YouTube is updating its copyright policies and instituting "Copyright School" to educate users about copyright law and decrease the illegal sharing of copyrighted content, the court is coming down hard on a company called Righthaven for attempting to enforce copyrights it says it has been assigned by various newspapers.


What's the difference? Righthaven is not really trying to protect the original content, some say. Righthaven is simply in it for the money.


According to The New York Times:

Righthaven has filed more than 200 similar federal lawsuits in Colorado and Nevada over material posted without permission from The Denver Post or The Las Vegas Review-Journal ... [T]he way it works is simple: Righthaven finds newspaper material that has been republished on the Web - usually an article, excerpts or a photograph - and obtains the copyrights. Then, the company sues.

But the company sues without first asking the offenders - more often a little-known blogger or website, but a few as recognizable as The Drudge Report - to take down the material to which Righthaven says it holds the rights. What's more, the cases usually settle out of court. In fact, some have suggested that Righthaven purposely targets those who cannot afford legal representation so that they will settle out of court.


Lately, however, the judges presiding over Righthaven disputes haven't been so quick to see things the company's way. MediaPost reports U.S. District Judge James Mahan has indicated that Righthaven may not be able to show harm to the market as required to recover for copyright infringement because it's not operating as a traditional newspaper. And according to TechDirt, there's also some question as to the validity of the assignments by which Righthaven obtained the right to sue on behalf of the newspapers it claims to represent.


The end may be near for Righthaven - at least as it currently exists.

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