Thursday, August 12, 2010

Blog Law Blog's Take On The Righthaven Suits

Professor Johnson points out that technically, Righthaven is within the law on copyright, but:
That being said, there’s nothing virtuous about Righthaven suing everyone and anyone they can without warning and without any modicum of amiability. As you go through life, you are constantly collecting opportunities to sue people. If you wanted to, you could file a stream of lawsuits for trespass, battery, and breach of contract against a variety of people with whom you have relatively normal dealings. Our system of civil law – and our system of criminal law, for that matter – work relatively well because people and businesses at all levels of society exercise considerable restraint in deciding whether or not to go to court.

Filing federal lawsuits against frightened individual bloggers who are without significant legal or financial resources, and doing so without any attempt whatsoever to resolve the dispute informally, is deplorable behavior. That would apply to anyone. But for a newspaper to do it is abhorrent.
He also points out that there's nothing terribly clever about what Righthaven is doing:
Righthaven and its associated newspapers are on the cutting edge because they have stooped lower than anyone else in the news business has been willing to go.
One of the frequent criticisms of an overly litigious society is its inefficiency.  The Las Vegas Review-Journal could have sent a takedown request to various bloggers, and I suspect that they would have achieved 99.9% success.  It would have taken about five minutes to draft and send--and a demand for payment of say $100 or even $200 would probably have achieved 95% success without any further emails.  You could even make it very efficient--write a program t search for links to Review-Journal articles, count the number of words contained inside quotation marks or blockquote tags, and forward a list to a human being to quickly review.  It would not have required a penny of the taxpayers money operating the federal court system.  I guess federal judges don't have anything better to do at the moment.  Oddly enough, the Review-Journal's publisher apparently is a big opponent of frivolous and abusive lawsuits.  Perhaps his objection is just to not being the beneficiary of these absurdities.

1 comment:

  1. Righthaven could send out take down notices, but that would defeat the purpose of their existence. They exist solely to file lawsuits and make money. If they send out take down notices, they won't have anyone to sue and thus will defeat their reason for existing.

    They aren't about protecting their content since arguably a link from you will drive up hits to their site. They're all about wringing money out of defenseless targets by misusing the law.