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The Courts

The Rise of the Copyright Trolls 169

Posted by kdawson
from the encouraging-champarty dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In the new mass filesharing suit brought in Washington, DC, on behalf of a filmmaker, Achte/Neunte v. Does 1-2094, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Citizen, and two ACLU organizations have filed an amicus curiae brief supporting a motion by Time Warner to quash the subpoena. EFF commented: 'We've long been concerned that some attorneys would attempt to create a business by cutting corners in mass copyright lawsuits against fans, shaking settlements out of people who aren't in a position to raise legitimate defenses and becoming a category of 'copyright trolls' to rival those seen in patent law.'" And reader ericgoldman notes a case that arguably falls under the same umbrella: "Sherman Frederick, publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, wrote a blog post declaring 'Copyright theft: We're not taking it anymore.' Apparently upset that third-party websites are republishing its stories in full, the newspaper 'grubstaked and contracted with a company called Righthaven ... a local technology company whose only job is to protect copyrighted content.' Righthaven has brought 'about 22' lawsuits on behalf of the newspaper, including lawsuits against marijuana- and gambling-related websites. Frederick hopes 'if Righthaven shows continued success, that it will find other clients looking for a solution to the theft of copyrighted material' and ends his 'editorial' (or is it an ad?) inviting other newspapers to become Righthaven customers. A couple of months back Wendy Davis of MediaPost deconstructed some of Frederick's logic gaps."
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The Rise of the Copyright Trolls

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  • If one equates copyright infringement with theft, he or she is either trolling of ignorant. The same goes for "think of the poor starving artists, homeless in their nansions", "I don't just have a monopoly, I own the work itself", etc.

    Of course, many of these aren't trolls but astroturfing. Sadly, the trolls seem to be winning on all fronts -- copyright trolls, patent trolls, and slashdot trolls.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cornicefire (610241)
      But it can have the same effect on a newspaper or a blog. They make money when people look at ads or buy subscriptions. If you reproduce a large part of the article or somehow intercept the readers, it has the same effect as stealing some money directly from their bank account. So you can quibble over the word "theft", but the comptroller who needs to issue the paychecks and the people who have to write their mortgage checks feel the same thing.
    • by kalirion (728907) on Friday June 04, 2010 @09:38AM (#32458156)

      How about the "information wants to be free" trolls, who insist that just because something can be digitized, it has to be freely available to the masses?

      Seems everyone is in either one extreme or the other. Whatever happened to moderation?

      • Moderation? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mister_playboy (1474163) on Friday June 04, 2010 @09:41AM (#32458190)

        Whatever happened to moderation?

        Moderate posts tend to go unmoderated on /. Where's the fun in that? :)

      • by jgagnon (1663075)

        By definition, there are no "moderate activists". So nobody is pushing the cause of moderation.

        It's a vicious circle of mediocrity. ;)

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        You know, I can still remember a time when the Web and the Internet in general were being hailed as the coming of a golden age of information availability, where people would be able to find information faster than ever before. What happened to that view of the Internet?

        Oh, that's right, a group of people whose businesses are based on information not being available started suing people left and right.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by cornicefire (610241)
          The information-must-be-free folks have already put a number of newspapers out of business and reduced the headcount at many others. So who's really reducing the available information.

          Paywalls don't restrict access to paying customers, just those who don't want to pull their weight.
      • by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday June 04, 2010 @10:24AM (#32458910) Homepage Journal

        Information doesn't want to be free, but when it isn't, neither are you.

      • by yyxx (1812612)

        What about you stop insulting people and start engaging in a real debate?

        Then you might go back and read up on the intent behind copyright and the original copyright terms: 14 years with one renewal for living authors, explicit copyright notice and registration required. Those terms were thought up by some of the greatest minds in US history. Under those terms, tons of stuff ought to be freely available to the masses. The copyright term extensions that have happened since then have not been justified by

      • by selven (1556643)

        Whatever happened to moderation?

        Everything is best done in moderation... especially moderation.

      • by tsm_sf (545316)
        How about the "information wants to be free" trolls

        You mean the ones taking this quote out of context to further their own agenda?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      If one equates copyright infringement with theft, he or she is either trolling of ignorant.

      So you are saying if I disagree with you then I *must* be a troll because you are obviously right...

      Republishing stories in full without crediting the original author is plagiarism. Basically taking someone else's work and passing them off as their own in order to garner hits, elevate the status of their blog, and possibly earn some revenue from Google advertising.

      Even if they give proper credit to the original auth

      • by DJRumpy (1345787)

        And yet you yourself don't use the word 'theft' to describe the same situation, but rather you chose to use 'plagiarism'.

        "Republishing stories in full without crediting the original author is plagiarism. Basically taking someone else's work and passing them off as their own in order to garner hits, elevate the status of their blog, and possibly earn some revenue from Google advertising."

        Copyright Infringement is NOT theft. The owner of said works can open up their hard drive, safe, or wherever they keep the

        • You skipped over my quote in the same comment:

          The fact that copyright infringement does not equate to what is traditionally thought of as theft does not make copyright infringement any less wrong or any less of a crime. Save your strawman arguments for another time. This has nothing to do with your addiction to share MP3s.

          So what was your point?

          • by mpeskett (1221084)

            His point was that copyright infringement is a different crime from theft. Or if that wasn't his point then it's one I'd like to make.

            The two things are both illegal, may well both result in financial damage to the victim, bear a certain sort of superficial resemblance, but they aren't the same crime. They don't carry the same punishment (bizarrely the less direct one tends to be punished more harshly, though less often) they aren't seen the same way in public opinion, they are not the same thing.

            So it's

      • by toriver (11308)

        YES it does make it less a crime since theft is a criminal offense but copyright infringement is a civil offense.

        The "copyright infringement is theft" crowd seems to use the amusing logic that since they both are illegal they must be comparable. Yet they would not equate speeding with serial rape.

        Please cite a copyright case where the defendant was accused of theft, then we can say they have been equated.

        • YES it does make it less a crime since theft is a criminal offense but copyright infringement is a civil offense.

          From the Copyright Law FAQ, by Terry Carroll:

          3.3) Is copyright infringement a crime, or a civil matter?

          It's always at least a civil matter (a tort). 17 U.S.C. 501(b) details the mechanisms by which an owner of a copyright may file a civil suit, and 28 U.S.C. 1338 expressly refers to civil actions arising under the copyright act.

          However, under certain circumstances, it may also be a federal

          • by Smauler (915644)

            That's like claiming that sex is a criminal offense, because some very specific instances of sex are criminal offenses. Copyright infringement is not a criminal offense, profiteering from copyright infringement is, just as sex is not a criminal offense, but rape is.

            • Yes but in the context of the parent article. The copyright infringement is willful and for private financial gain (ad revenue). Therefore it is a crime in this case.
              • by Smauler (915644)

                GGGP is wrong. Copyright infringement is not a criminal offense. The GGGP did not state that the copyright infringement is willful and for private gain, I think they are just confused about whether it is a criminal offense. It isn't, apart from in those specific circumstances, which GGGP did not seem to be talking about.

                Personally I believe copyright infringement for personal gain should be a criminal offense - it's just using someone else's copyright to make a quick buck. However, I'd guess that at lea

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Republishing stories in full without crediting the original author is plagiarism

        Yes, and I hate plagiarism too; about ten years ago I wrote something that may have been the most plagiarized piece on the internet, but that's not what I was referring to.

        And I'm for copyright, although against the extreme times copyrights are granted for these days, and think that non-plagiarising, non-commercial use should be noninfringing.

        But copyright infringement is NOT theft. Nor is it rape, nor is it a red canary. Callin

      • by Smauler (915644)

        The fact that copyright infringement does not equate to what is traditionally thought of as theft does not make copyright infringement any less wrong or any less of a crime.

        Ummm... I think you'll find it does. One necessarily deprives the owner of something, the other does not. One is a criminal offense, the other is not.

    • Yeah, we'll lets think about software patents for a minute....Why? It's totally insane and so is this. Yep, the US is going down the tubes without anyone else left. OK we will have a depression followed by global war. The human race cannot stand another world war so we need to get our stuff together and get rid of nonsense like this.

      • by rxan (1424721)
        But software patents and patents in general are insane for a different reason. Patents often cover a multitude of ideas rather than a single implementation. There are many versions of Avatar: Dances with Wolves, Pocahontas, Fern Gully; they are all the same idea with different copywritten implementations. This is what makes copyrights OK and patents insane.
    • Trolls trolling trolls troll trolls trolling trolls.
  • heh (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Friday June 04, 2010 @09:22AM (#32457946) Homepage

    Frederick hopes 'if Righthaven shows continued success, that it will find other clients looking for a solution to the theft of copyrighted material' and ends his 'editorial' (or is it an ad?) inviting other newspapers to become Righthaven customers.

    So, is this possibly a Glenn Beck/Goldline [yahoo.com] type of situation?

  • by abigsmurf (919188) on Friday June 04, 2010 @09:27AM (#32457994)
    The summary seems to be abusing the negativity around patent trolls and the actions of the companies in question.

    This isn't companies sitting on pools of copyrighted content they've no intent to distribute. This is companies hiring a third party to protect their material.

    Lots of small companies can't afford their own legal teams to protect themselves so it makes sense to outsource this type of thing.
    • "Protection" (Score:5, Interesting)

      by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Friday June 04, 2010 @09:36AM (#32458122)
      It is interesting that you use the word "protect" to describe the activities of these companies. What exactly are they protecting? It is not the works themselves -- the works are protected by being distributed as widely as possible, so that they do not become lost or forgotten.

      What is being "protected" here is an out of date business model, created in an era where making a high quality copy required specialized and expensive equipment. Now things are different, and less than a week's pay at minimum wage is sufficient to make perfect copies of music or movies, and the practice is widespread. Instead of updating business models to reflect the reality of the 21st century, what are these companies doing? Attacking people and attacking technology, hoping to turn back the clock.

      Why should we feel sympathy for companies that engage in that sort of behavior? These companies are not protecting anything, they are just trying to scare people away from modern technology through malicious litigation, and trying to turn a profit in that process. I feel no sympathy for them, and I certainly won't defend their abuse of the American judicial system by suggesting that they are "protecting" anything.
      • Re:"Protection" (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Friday June 04, 2010 @10:03AM (#32458548)

        What is being "protected" here is an out of date business model, created in an era where making a high quality copy required specialized and expensive equipment.

        You've seem to left out the part that includes money being spent to pay the reporter's salary and his travel expenses. Not to mention the salaries of the support staff that doesn't include distribution.

        It appears that the business model that you support involves taking someone else's work, republish it, garner web hits for free, and cash the check from Google. This doesn't sound like a sustainable business model. Of course, you are preserving the work itself by helping it being distributed to a wider audience. This is a flimsy moral argument that ignores the original author's intent or the need to sustain the actual sources of these articles.

        Why does it appear that the "new business model" is parasitic? How does this model continue when the host dies?

        • Maybe newspapers could refuse to publish stories unless a certain number of people subscribe? Or, perhaps it is time to change the system at a more fundamental level, and not have news be treated as a business, but as a public service?

          Yeah, that second one sounds nice. A system where the public pays for the news. Where the law protects the public's interest in having access to reliable news, rather than putting the public in danger if they dare to disseminate the news further. Or, if the thought of t
          • by lymond01 (314120)

            A system where the public pays for the news.

            Like NPR?

            I hear what you're saying about people protecting their wallets, not their content. And because people need to eat, these newspapers, movie moguls, songwriters still need the money, not just your interest. In terms of online news, much of it is paid for through advertising. So if people aren't going to that particular site because they're reading it elsewhere, that newspaper isn't making money. If there was a technological way of having the attributio

          • Maybe newspapers could refuse to publish stories unless a certain number of people subscribe?

            Sounds unrealistic, and a catch 22. How can you attract subscribers without stories? How can you publish stories without subscribers?

            Now if only there was a way you could publish a story and have people come to your site and actually read it. But we need to make sure no one else poaches our story and reap the rewards of our hard work. If only there was a way of doing just that... oh right it's called copyright.

            Or,

      • by jdgeorge (18767)

        It seems as if people who claim to support GPL and other effective community-building copyright licenses that depend on the protections provided by copyright law also show blatant contempt for idea of copyright. I'm not talking about the irrational duration of copyright, but the idea that the creator of content should get to set the rules for use of his own content.

        Maybe I'm wrong, and the people who don't respect copyright also don't give a crap about the GPL, but if I were to characterize the Slashdot com

        • Re:"Protection" (Score:4, Insightful)

          by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Friday June 04, 2010 @10:38AM (#32459106)
          Actually, the whole point of the GPL is that the authors of creative works should not retain absolute control over the distribution of the work. The fact that the GPL uses copyright law as a means to that end is entirely incidental; it would have been just as effective to rewrite the law itself to grant the public the same rights that the GPL grants.

          The whole "GPL is built on copyrights, so free software supporters should not opposed other uses of the copyright system" is misleading and attempts to portray the GPL as another case of "creators get to decide the rules." The point of the GPL is to improve the public's access to software, and the philosophy is based on improving the public's access to information and creative works in general. Sure, dismantling the copyright system entirely, without creating a new set of laws protecting the public's access to creative works, would be a problem for free software supporters. Replacing the current copyright system with a new system that encourages sharing and increases the ability of people to find information, that is perfectly fine for a free software supporter.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by jdgeorge (18767)

            Actually, the whole point of the GPL is that the authors of creative works should not retain absolute control over the distribution of the work. The fact that the GPL uses copyright law as a means to that end is entirely incidental; it would have been just as effective to rewrite the law itself to grant the public the same rights that the GPL grants.

            Baloney. Fundamentally, the copyright system works as intended as a protection for the creators of publishable material. I only see problems in two areas: Duration and enforcement.

            This argument about "improving the public's access to information and creative works" suggests that that ONLY appropriate model for managing publication rights is the GPL model. Even the FSF doesn't promote this view, as evidenced by the various FSF-created licenses (various GPL versions, LGPL versions, GFDL). What the "replacing

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by $RANDOMLUSER (804576)
      Here's the (PDF warning) complaint [beckermanlegal.com] in case anyone's interested.

      Here's my favorite quote:

      Thus, a Defendant's distribution of even one unlawful copy of a motion picture can result in the nearly instantaneous worldwide distribution of that single copy to a limitless number of people.

      • Here's my favorite quote:

        Thus, a Defendant's distribution of even one unlawful copy of a motion picture can result in the nearly instantaneous worldwide distribution of that single copy to a limitless number of people.

        Not having read the complaint, I don't know what the context of that quote is, but it seems reasonable. Once the cat's out of the bag, someone can grab it, put it on BT, and anyone can get it.

      • by rxan (1424721)
        Look what happened to X-Men Wolverine.
    • by AlexiaDeath (1616055) on Friday June 04, 2010 @09:48AM (#32458312)
      You try to make it sound like its a fair game. Its not. Guilty or not, a lot of small people people cant afford to fight these attacks and why would they when everybody that has tried has gotten statutory damages awarded to the bullies in amounts that equate direct bankruptcy and do not even resemble fair compensation in way way. Smart legal people see a low cost moneymaking machine in these cases. Sue crap-ton of people on dubious proof, get a contact to go with that IP, that does NOT represent an individual in any way, shape or form and then extort settlements from as many as possible. Legal extortion. Retarded.
    • the issue is not the legitimacy or illegitimacy of the enforcers, the issue is the legitimacy or illegitimacy of what is being enforced

      the very concept of copyright itself is coming under question as to its validity due to technological progress (the internet)

      there is an entire body of legal status quo that was developed in an age of vcr tapes and vinyl records and xerox machines. much of it is fundamentally at odds with how the internet functions

      such that renegade nongovernmental organizations exploiting t

      • by dwandy (907337)

        we are talking about the ... victimization of individuals of limited ... means who have committed no moral crime

        mankind has burned witches before and sadly we'll burn 'em again. All most of us can hope for is that we're not identified as one until this blows over.

    • Does anyone else find it odd to see the EFF and MPAA on the same side for a court case?

      The EFF's motivations I understand. I guess I need to RTFA, but my gut-level guess at the MPAA's motivation is, "Only big guys like us (MafiAA) who can afford a stable of lawyers and a few purchased legislators deserve copyright protection."

  • I know it's a complement and it's not as horrible as giving someone a complement by making out with their girlfriend, but it's still something that hurts the paper. If they don't get ad revenue, they die. If someone really wants to give someone a complement, they'll give a short teaser link with a suggestion to the reader to follow the link and read the piece. A long quote may not seem mean, but it still hurts.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Rusty KB (1778458)
      I don't know. If you complement someone by making out with their girlfriend, aren't you initiating a threesome? I'm not sure what that has to do with paper, bit I compliment you on your creativity!
    • If they are really worried about it, perhaps they should stop publishing their content on the Internet. Of course, that would kill them. So would a paywall.

      They built their business in an age where creating copies of a newspaper required expensive equipment. That age is gone. To be perfectly honest, the age of "news as a business" is on its way out -- it is time for us to start looking at new ways to pay journalists for their services. Either that, or newspapers need to come up with a really good bu
      • ... it is time for us to start looking at new ways to pay journalists for their services.

        It's called blogs. Look it up.

        • There are two issues I have with that:
          1. I have not seen many blogs that really fall into the category of "high quality journalism."
          2. Blogs are based on the same business model, and will suffer from the same problems.

          I am thinking more in terms of a system where journalism is viewed as a public service, so the public pays for it, and the public has the right to copy and disseminate the news as much as they want. Instead of the law being used to limit the spread of that information, the law would be rewritten

    • Well until I read Slashdot few minutes ago I never knew Las Vegas Review-Journal existed or probably would even have know it existed but I know of NORMAL. Since I didn't know they existed how would they have lost any money from me not reading their site, and they probably would have got me as a reader if I saw the article on NORML and followed the source link which I always do and a lot of times become a regular as long as they have creative and quality articles..
  • Obviously only Hollywood companies are allowed to sue american citizens for file sharing.
  • I really think the newspaper is right in this case and I can't belive why the blogger belive he is allowed to just put a copy of (large parts of) an article online on his own page. What he should do is to put a snippet(Normally the first paragraph or so) and then link to the newspaper. (Like google news does).

    But when that is said, I still think that suing without even sending a warning is a bit aggresive.

    Oh and the reason this kind of lawsuits are so seldom seen is that if the newspaper just send an takedown email, the article will normally be taken down, simply because the guy who put it up there normally know he has no right do so, so he will just take it down when asked.

    • Takedown warning is fine. Even a suit against a single persistent copy-blogger is fine. Suing a crap-ton unnamed individuals is not.
  • by ThisIsAnonymous (1146121) on Friday June 04, 2010 @09:45AM (#32458262)

    Look at this way. Say I owned a beautiful 1967 Corvette and kept it parked in my front yard. And you, being a Corvette enthusiast, saw my Vette from the street. You stopped and stood on the sidewalk admiring it. You liked it so much you called friends and gave them my address in case they also wanted to drive over for a gander. There'd be nothing wrong with that. I like my '67 Vette and I keep in the front yard because I like people to see it. But then, you entered my front yard, climbed into the front seat and drove it away. I'm absolutely, 100% not OK with that. In fact, I'm calling the police and reporting that you stole my car. Every jury in the land would convict you. Yet, when it comes to copyrighted material -- news that my company spends money to gather and constitutes the essence of what we are as a business -- some people think they can not only look at it, but also steal it. And they do. They essentially step into the front yard and drive that content away.

    The part in bold is my emphasis. Is he saying that facts, meaning news, can be copyrighted? That if his paper is the first to publish an article about the outcome of a sporting event, that that should be copyrighted? I agree that an article about the game shouldn't be copied verbatim to another site but copyrighting the facts is ridiculous.
    Also worth a laugh is the entire analogy of the Corvette and the "news." They are very different. With the Corvette, he would no longer physically have the Corvette. With the news, he has a copy and now the thief has a copy. What has actually been stolen is the possibility that someone might only see that article on his site. It's now available in two places. This is a lot different than the Corvette. I'm not saying it makes copying articles verbatim OK, I just think the analogy is incorrect.

    • Plagiarism is plagiarism. Newsworthyness means nothing if it's lifted wholesale and unaltered. That copyrighted works are a 'body' like a 'Vette is real.

      Steal the news, steal a 'Vette, both are stealing.

      You can take a picture of the 'Vette. Fine.

      You can look at it. Fine.

      Drive it away, and it's stealing, as its *owner* is denied its benefit, a benefit that he may have paid nothing for, or a lot of money. It matters not what the ownership was worth, rather, that he (presuming his gender; I could be wrong) the

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by truetorment (919200)

        Plagiarism is plagiarism. Newsworthyness means nothing if it's lifted wholesale and unaltered. That copyrighted works are a 'body' like a 'Vette is real.

        Steal the news, steal a 'Vette, both are stealing.

        You can take a picture of the 'Vette. Fine.

        You can look at it. Fine.

        Drive it away, and it's stealing, as its *owner* is denied its benefit, a benefit that he may have paid nothing for, or a lot of money. It matters not what the ownership was worth, rather, that he (presuming his gender; I could be wrong) the fact that he's the actual owner.

        To extrapolate, the news was done by someone, and written by them. Someone picked it up and republished it in its entirety, denying the person that owns it (no matter how it came into being) benefits their original work is due them.

        Except that there is NO evidence that a single article was "...republished in its entirety...", at least according to the articles listed above. And despite your claims, the owner is NOT "denied its benefit", either. They still get traffic to their website, and all those ad impressions. What you're arguing is that the content owner lost *potential* benefits from their content, which is an entirely different discussion and--in my opinion--not the intent of the DMCA.

        Either way, you're still using a terribl

    • The part in bold is my emphasis. Is he saying that facts, meaning news, can be copyrighted? That if his paper is the first to publish an article about the outcome of a sporting event, that that should be copyrighted? I agree that an article about the game shouldn't be copied verbatim to another site but copyrighting the facts is ridiculous.

      I just wanted to amplify your sentiment, since it got lost in the weird corvette story.

      The issue isn't the copyrighting of facts. The issue is the verbatim copying of t

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      They keep trotting out the stolen car analogy, when anybody with half a brain can see that if you steal my car, I no longer have my car. If you make a copy of my car, why should I complain? Nothing was stolen.

      Copyright infringement is not theft. Nor is it rape. It's copyright infringement.

  • by morphotomy (1655417) on Friday June 04, 2010 @09:49AM (#32458326)
    Its ok to try to protect something you poured your blood sweat and tears into, even if copying it only costs a few pennies. Whats not OK is trying to claim that each infringement costs them thousands of dollars. If youre going to sue for a few MP3s, then do it in small claims court, and do it often. Don't blame one person for the crimes of 10,000.
    • Explain how limiting the distribution of information "protects" that information.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by morphotomy (1655417)
        It doesnt protect the information, it sustains the creator. The fact is that it takes time and energy to produce intellectual property, and if the rightful owner decides to charge a license fee, thats fully within his rights. Trying to claim that illegally downloading it has caused 1000 dollars worth of damage when its sold for only $10 is ludicrous.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Its ok to try to protect something you poured your blood sweat and tears into, even if copying it only costs a few pennies. Whats not OK is trying to claim that each infringement costs them thousands of dollars. If youre going to sue for a few MP3s, then do it in small claims court, and do it often. Don't blame one person for the crimes of 10,000.

      Its too easy to defend yourself in small claim's court so they don't want to sue there. They want a lawsuit where its cheaper to just fork out the money and pay them off than it is to fight.

    • by spikenerd (642677)

      Its ok to try to protect something you poured your blood sweat and tears into...

      Even this sounds benign, but is dangerous reasoning. It's really a revenue stream that Copyright holders are trying to protect, not the information itself. Further, the mechanism they use to protect this revenue stream is to tell me what I'm allowed to do with copies. While Copyright may give them that legal right for a limited time, let's not pretend that it is somehow inherently right for content creators to be able to say what I can and cannot do indefinitely just because they poured effort into making s

  • Aren't Time Warner Cable and Warner Brothers owned by the same company? Couldn't this motion come back to bite them if WB ever wants to sue TWC customers?

    (On the other hand, maybe their plan is to make it hard for their competitors to sue, but helpfully provide customer details whenever WB asks.)

  • How many deaths? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stephenn1001 (1780930) on Friday June 04, 2010 @10:15AM (#32458748)
    Interesting study would be to see how many deaths are caused by these mass court orders. I know at least one person that could "tip over the edge" if they are hit with a $5,000 lawsuit.
  • One major difference between patent trolls and copyright "trolls" is the fact that people and companies can accidentally violate a patent or violate a patent on the way to implementing some technology - they can be victims of patent minefields. Copyright, on the other hand, can't be violated without someone intentionally violating copyright. Yes, we can still agree that the size of the copyright-violation punishment is too large, but I think equating patent trolls and copyright trolls is fallacious. Are
    • by maugle (1369813)

      Are we going to call companies who slap shoplifters with overly large penalties "shoplifting trolls", or call groups who hit car thieves with big punishments "car theft trolls"?

      Only once they start suing everyone near the store during the time of the shoplifting, and everyone within two blocks of where the car was stolen.

  • by Picass0 (147474) on Friday June 04, 2010 @10:37AM (#32459092) Homepage Journal

    1) A lawyer copies a story from your newspaper and posts it anonymously on a blog or user aggregated news site. Then that same attorney runs to you and says "They stole your story! You should sue!!!"

    2) Repeat

    3) Profit.

  • Sherm and the rest of his Journal pals are pure right wing jackasses. I lived in Vegas for 2 years and promptly cancelled my paper subscription because I couldn't put up with it anymore.

    It's one thing when their views are limited to the Opinions section, but when it's pervasive throughout the entire paper it's too much. And then he wonders why no one is buying his rag.
    • While they may be a bunch of jerks, they certainly have had their copyrights infringed. PLAN [planevada.org] apparently didn't always just summarize their "clippings" [planevada.org] like they do now. They used to take the entire article and serve it directly (well, they hotlink the photos). They could have just used frames, I guess, or just link to the original article from the get go.
      • Although, they do seem to be targeting liberal organizations disproportionately.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by WillyWanker (1502057)
          If he was really interested in "protecting" his copyright he would just issue cease and desist letters. These guys aren't in competition with him, so it's not like they are causing any kind of financial harm. Hell, they aren't even in the news business.

          No, this is all about extorting money from these schlumps in order to generate revenue to save his dying newspaper empire.

          Why bother trying to reinvent yourself for the 21st century when you can make up for lost profits thru extortion?
  • I think these lawyers handling these small bogus cases on a contingent basis might possibly be in for a surprise. Maybe they thought the RIAA was 'making it up on volume', but I doubt it. I have a strong hunch that the RIAA spent more on prosecuting the cases than it received in settlements and other recoveries.

    I'm guessing that these lawyers will be laying out a lot of money, and a whole lot of time, and their fees won't even come close to what they expend.

    Which of course, serves them right for being involved in extortionate, champertous, unnecessary litigation.

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay

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