Monday, March 19, 2012

Copyright Troll, Media Company Get Comeuppance Over Claim of Infringement

Fremont Troll
The Fremont District Troll of Seattle

An altogether nicer guy than a patent/copyright troll.

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A company formed to buy the rights to articles in some mainstream media sources and then sue for large amounts of money has been broken, and the media company behind it has failed to make it's case that short excerpts constitute copyright infringement, or that forum owners have responsibility for what their members post.

Though Righthaven, the original suing company  may have gotten some agreements for settlements from some unpaid bloggers and even bigger ones from politically connected Nevada groups (according to reports I read earlier), a finalized case has helped ruin Righthaven and will likely put a damper the ardor of Stephens Media which is connected to the Las Vegas Journal Review and some other newspapers to find other ways to continue suing people, for short excerpts from non paywalled articles.  It seems to us that a question remains about articles that are presented behind a paywall, and if in fact the NYT model can be called a pay-wall since 20 articles can be viewed for free each month by each person (or machine or browser?).

Another thing that is curious (well not really) is that this was action taken against Democratic Underground.   It might be that DU was targeted, or that DU was the source that had the wherewithal to fight this and therefore didn't cave immediately when contacted.

Sharon Angle's Senate campaign ponied up $150, 000 for reprinting an article by the Las  Vegas Journal-Review during her 2010 candidacy, and I believe the Democratic Party of Nevada did the same. Other times bloggers faced the Righthaven juggernaut, with the copyright trolls demanding tens of thousands of dollars to avoid lawsuits.  The examples I saw reports on were generally of the bloggers posting entire articles on blogs with small circulations and no ads.    I'm not sure if those bloggers have paid, are still in litigation, or what has happened.

But as seen in an EFF article, some questions have been settled.    See  Court Declares Newspaper Excerpt on Online Forum is a Non-Infringing Fair Use.