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Righthaven Adds Forum Posters To Copyright Suit 83

Posted by Soulskill
from the seeing-what-sticks dept.
eldavojohn writes "The last time we discussed the Las Vegas Review-Journal and their litigating attorneys at Righthaven LLC, they were suing all the websites that had violated their news copyrights. Well, they've now added seven individual message board posters that they've managed to identify, bringing the number of DMCA-related lawsuits they have launched since March to 203. In one case, LVRJ is upset that a Google Groups user named Jim_Higgins posted a column that cited the columnist but failed to cite the original LVRJ article. But Google Groups is protected from these suits, as the article explains: 'Both the madjacksports and Google sites are somewhat protected from copyright lawsuits because they have posted "DMCA" notices as required by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. These notices, which must be registered with the US Copyright Office, inform copyright holders who to contact if they would like infringing material removed.' The first decision of this cluster of lawsuits was against Righthaven, yet the onslaught continues. Righthaven has publicly dismissed fair use as well."
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Righthaven Adds Forum Posters To Copyright Suit

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  • Well. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @01:23AM (#34912850)

    Righthaven has publicly dismissed fair use as well.

    I'm sure a judge is really going to care if you publicly dismiss a law you don't like.

    • Re:Well. (Score:4, Informative)

      by Eponymous Coward (6097) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @02:10AM (#34913070)

      dismiss a law you don't like

      Calling fair use a law isn't really accurate. Fair use isn't a right. Rather it is a defense against infringement claims.

      In fine Slashdot tradition, I haven't RTFA (yet), but Righthaven is likely saying their copyrighted materials weren't used in a way that would qualify as fair use.

      • by cappp (1822388)
        In fine Slashdot tradition...they don't dismiss fair use at all. Looks good and makes for a bit of internet rage though.
      • In a story about the future of the net, there's fewer than five insightful posts to reply to. I'll try yours.

        If $RandomLawFirm can sue for free anyone who has ever made a forum post by deciding that any one post crosses a line they retroactively moved, that will be the end of the internet in 2012.

      • Re:Well. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @04:52AM (#34913770)

        Fair use isn't a right. Rather it is a defense against infringement claims.

        Copyright maximalists like to make that claim, but the law says in black and white that Fair Use is a limitation on the scope of copyright. That means that if a use is Fair Use, it is by definition not infringing (whether the artificial monopoly holder likes it, or not).

        You can quibble over whether a citizen's rights come from Fair Use, or simply from the fact that in the absence of copyright, the citizen would have a natural free speech right to copy and use the material. But it is misleading to assert that a citizen who is (correctly) asserting Fair Use has no rights; that the artificial monopoly recipient has an absolute monopoly; for that simply is not how the law is written, or how the law is supposed to work.

        • Re:Well. (Score:4, Informative)

          by Eponymous Coward (6097) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @12:38PM (#34917116)

          I don't think anybody is saying a citizen has no rights, just that fair use is actually a defense and not a right.

          You may be allowed to use portions of a copyrighted work to comment or report on that work, but it isn't your right. Copyright holders who use DRM to deny access to the work aren't obliged to provide access to allow fair use. If fair use was a right, there would be no problem breaking DRM schemes for fair use purposes and the DMCA would have been overturned years ago. Slowly, the defenders and proponents of fair use are chipping away at the DMCA and I'm hopeful that we will end up with a more balanced law soon.

          Nobody is saying the copyright holders have an absolute monopoly. They don't and the law is clear on that. In the case referred to in the summary, an article was reproduced in its entirety. If the defendants had only reproduced excerpts their fair use claims would be stronger. I'm not saying their fair use claim is bogus, but I can understand how Righthaven thinks a line was crossed and they may win the case.

          • Copyright holders who use DRM to deny access to the work aren't obliged to provide access to allow fair use.

            imo, they should have to, but then again, that'd make the system pro-consumer, and we don't want that.

          • You may be allowed to use portions of a copyrighted work to comment or report on that work, but it isn't your right.

            Wait, "you are allowed but you have no right", are you trolling?

            You have natural rights to copy and modify anything you see, copyright law takes away those rights, fair use doesn't just give you rights, fair use is a right they are not taking away from you.

            • The "you are allowed but you have no right" is the difference between permitted use and protected right. You can use copyrighted materials for commentary (permitted use) but that "right" isn't protected in that copyright holders are not required to make their content available for commentary (e.g. blu ray footage). Because of the DMCA, you can't even legally bypass digital locks to use the copyrighted material in protected ways.

      • Re:Well. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by eh2o (471262) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @05:28AM (#34913920)

        Fair use is an aspect of copyright law created by the intersection of two conflicting positive rights: one being the right to make scientific progress and intellectual inquiry, and the other being the right to economic protection of intellectual property.

        As for the Righthaven cases, it appears that many (but not all) of the alleged violations are blatant by most criteria (verbatim reproduction of entire articles), however the amount of actual economic damage done is arguably to zero (a lawsuit over a post on soc.retirement? really??). On the other hand, people should be a bit more careful when posting stuff like that on public forums... probably not the brightest idea...

        • Re:Well. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by sgbett (739519) <slashdot@remailer.org> on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @06:31AM (#34914178) Homepage

          As much as I think it's all a bit ridiculous, there's a part of me that wonders why someone would reproduce an *entire* article verbatim (if that is indeed what they have done).

          Surely, being the internet (in the colloquial sense ie the http part), they should just link to it and if really necessary only quote relevant excerpts? That just seems like good form to me, stylistically being perhaps the most useful way of using the internet as a means by which to deliver cross linked content.

          Not that failing to do so warrants immediate legal action, that just seems like a big hissy fit.

          • Re:Well. (Score:4, Informative)

            by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @08:05AM (#34914504) Journal

            It happens here all the time. A key reason is when there is something about the original article that feels offensive. Paywalls, Olde School attempts at control, and 12 pages for a 2000 word article.

            • by sgbett (739519)

              In those cases I agree. If the original article isn't playing by the 'rules' of the internet then they can hardly be surprised when people choose not to link them :)

              • Just as many cities aren't surprised when they make a nice wide open road with a relatively low posted limit and drivers speed. That violation is a civil offense just like copyright infringement, and you know what? There's plenty of locations where this is done intentionally as a revenue source from the speeding tickets.

                So, if we follow the example set by many of our small town governments (and not always small town governments), a great revenue source is to create a situation which naturally encourages c

          • by Locke2005 (849178)

            As much as I think it's all a bit ridiculous, there's a part of me that wonders why someone would reproduce an *entire* article verbatim (if that is indeed what they have done).

            Because the original article got slashdotted?

          • by kcbnac (854015)

            Because in 7 (or 14, or 28) days the article disappears forever and anyone coming upon the discussion later is SOL on the topic. That, or pay $20 for access to their "archives." Combined with the other commentator's mentions of paywalls, content laid out with two sentences per ad-laden page, etc.

        • There is a bigger reason to argue that the economic damage is zero than the one you cite. The only money Righthaven makes from the material it holds copyright on is from suing those who infringe its copyright. Righthaven is a separate legal entity owned by one or more media companies. The owners of Righthaven transfer their copyrights to Righthaven in exchange for the perpetual right to use the material. Righthaven then sues anyone else who uses the material. As far as I can tell, Righthaven does not licens
        • by russotto (537200)

          As for the Righthaven cases, it appears that many (but not all) of the alleged violations are blatant by most criteria (verbatim reproduction of entire articles), however the amount of actual economic damage done is arguably to zero (a lawsuit over a post on soc.retirement? really??). On the other hand, people should be a bit more careful when posting stuff like that on public forums... probably not the brightest idea...

          "People should be a bit more careful" = chilling effect = First Amendment conflict = exa

          • I think he was just trying to say it's important to understand what constitutes fair use before you claim it protects you.

            In other words, rather than reproducing an entire article verbatim, quote it selectively, add commentary, don't charge money for it, and attribute the source.

    • Sure he will! That makes it willful infringement.
    • Righthaven has publicly dismissed fair use as well.

      I'm sure a judge is really going to care if you publicly dismiss a law you don't like.

      Should blocking fair use provisions of copyright law be considered a violation of copyright law?

    • by WCMI92 (592436)

      Depends on the judge. So many of them these days rule based on personal political agenda, the law be dammed, especially in the Federal ranks where they are de facto unaccountable since only Congress can remove them from their appointed for life job.

      It wouldn't surprise me if the MAFIAA have slipped some activist judicial appointees into the mix.

      What needs to happen, honestly, is the removal of a lot of the extraconstitutional power FROM the judiciary that it has accumulated by self proclaimed fiat over the

    • by Sentrion (964745)

      The judge is not likely to care one way or the other. Like most public officials nowadays the judge will most likely care only about how his decisions from the bench will be perceived by his future employer, such as a lobbying group or a pro-industry arbitration firm.

    • by canajin56 (660655)
      They never actually dismissed fair use, Slashdot is just making shit up again. A non-profit organization reposted 100% of an article, with citation. They are claiming fair use. Of fucking COURSE the lawfirm suing them says that this doesn't count as fair use. Saying "In this instance, fair use doesn't apply" isn't the same thing as "THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS FAIR USE!" except in the twisted mind of eldavojohn.
  • by complete loony (663508) <Jeremy.LakemanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @01:32AM (#34912908)

    Jim_Higgins posted a column that cited the columnist but failed to cite the original LVRJ article

    Huh? The url is right there at the top of his post, it's just been shortened;

    JOHN L. SMITH: Somehow, patting down disabled, elderly improves security
    http://tinyurl.com/2a5y2ho [tinyurl.com]

    • Seems like there's a gap between providing a citation and providing a link. The shortened link may be a problem here.

      Stay with me here... when you provide a citation, you are in essence doing two things: giving credit to the author of the cited work, and providing a reference to the work so that your readers can go out and find the work if they want to read it.

      A shortened URL does not fulfill the second part of that.
      • by jackbird (721605)
        In what way does providing a link to the original material not provide a reference to the work? Maybe someday, when TinyURLgoes under, but not now.
        • Because it doesn't provide the actual details of the work, or a link to the actual work. It provides a link to a service who will then send you to the source. It's completely opaque to the reader... what if the target changes the link to the source?

          The shortened URL doesn't help you there... but a full URL would help you find the source. At the very least, you'd know what site it came from. You could then search that site for the article if you wanted.

          Using a shortened URL as a citation is a bad ide
  • for Anonymous.....now that they're done with Tunisia, they need something aside from furry porn to waste CPU cycles on....
  • go Righthaven (Score:5, Interesting)

    by toQDuj (806112) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @01:57AM (#34913028) Homepage Journal

    I'd say good luck to them. The more they press the issue, the more ammo we have to show that the DMCA is full of shit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @03:02AM (#34913304)

    "Google Groups user named Jim_Higgins posted a column that cited the columnist"

    The summary makes it sound as if Jim_Higgins provided some additional material, with a few references to the original article.

    I checked, and that is not the case. He reposted the entire article with no extra commentary or anything. Where I come from, that's not citing, that's plagiarism.

    • by Elbereth (58257)

      Exactly. Good luck selling that on Slashdot, though, where people have a tremendous entitlement complex when it comes to intellectual property.

      Is it really that hard to ask permission to use something? Why does everyone today resort to copyright violation first, then scream foul when they're caught?

      When I was a kid, my friends and I pirated lots of Commodore 64 and Amiga games. We were unrepentant, hardened criminals, as much as twelve year olds can be. The difference between us (back then) and kids tod

      • by 91degrees (207121)
        Well, I agree, but it's also a little hard siding with Righthaven, who simply buy the rights to articles after infringement, purely in order to sue others for copyright infringement. It seems a little extreme to take such punitive legal measures against an article that is no longer generating revenue.
        • Actually my understanding is that Righthaven is owned by LVRJ (and possibly several other media companies). LVRJ transfers copyright of every article they publish to Righthaven in exchange for perpetual right to reproduce said articles (if there are ony other owners of Righthaven, they do the same for the copyright of the publications they own). Righthaven then sues anyone who reproduces any part of those articles.

          The reason for the reference to other media company owners of Righthaven is that I seem to
          • by 91degrees (207121)
            I was under the impression that Righthaven licences the articles after someone copies them. Also that Righthaven was an independent company, however I'm even less certain abou tthat one.
      • Summary is in error, Jim Higgins DID cite the original article, unless he's edited his post since the original story (Is that possible? I don't use google groups). There's absolutely nothing wrong with this behavior, and Righthaven should be punished for blatant abuse of the judicial system.

        • by Kalriath (849904)

          It's not fair use unless you add something to it (commentary or analysis for example).

          That's just a copy paste of the article with a link - that's not fair use.

          • No, this is what it takes to qualify as fair use:

            Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 17 U.S.C. 106 and 17 U.S.C. 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright.

            The Google Group in question seems to be little more than a news aggregation community.

            In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include: the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
            the nature of the copyrighted work;
            the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
            the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
            The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.[1]

            While the work was reproduced in total, it was for nonprofit purposes, and probably increased the potential value of the copyrighted work - as the link would result in more pageviews of the article.

      • >...where people have a tremendous entitlement complex when it comes to intellectual property.

        You have hit the nail on the head. I'm very tired of reading news articles about subjects related to copyright, and seeing the amount of pure greed that gets self-evidently tossed around in the comments sections. You would think that some people were rigorously trained from birth to think of no one but themselves, and to not consider the consequences of their actions. But nope: "Look Out For Number One" is the o

        • by Jesus_666 (702802)
          Unfortunately the content lobby is somehow successfully making the case that the content industry is generating more money than all other industries combined, is absolutely indispensable for modern civilization and will immediately and completely fail if copyright terms and/or punitive measures aren't immediately expanded. And this happens every couple years.

          Society doesn't factor in because society doesn't have an effective lobby. No, elections don't count; those aren't short-term enough and any elected
        • by MarkvW (1037596)

          People who steal software, books and music are thieves only because the law makes them thieves. Their is nothing inherently wrong about copying another person's song or building another device just like that person's. Tribesmen have sung songs and reproduced weapons created by others for centuries before the first copyright and patent laws.

          Your own point of view supports the selfish greedy copyright/patent holder. They want to keep other people from using what they make unless other people give them reso

          • by Elbereth (58257)

            Did you even read anything that people said?

            You are perfectly demonstrating the referenced entitlement complex that we're complaining about. You do not automatically have a right to own every creative work ever made. If you want it, either ask the owner for a license or jump through the hoops the author requests. What you're advocating is Stalinism -- taking by force what others produce. People like you give socialism a bad name.

            • by Chaonici (1913646)

              Apparently you didn't read my post either, which points out that the entitlement complex goes both ways. Authors don't have natural rights to control post-sale use of their work any more than a bridge builder has any natural right to control post-sale use of his bridges. You, on the other hand, are attempting to assert (or at least imply) that such rights are self-evident, and of COURSE you can't share certain bits on your hard drive with others, because, well, it's just how it IS. Could you provide an adeq

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Erm, No. Plagiarism is passing off someone else's work as your own. That is like saying that file sharing is plagiarism. It's copyright infringement. Nothing more.

  • by basotl (808388) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @03:06AM (#34913320)
    I just blocked the websites of the papers. I wouldn't want to accidentally see their sites in the future.... or their advertising.
  • GG user vs. USENET (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tonique (1176513) on Tuesday January 18, 2011 @03:24AM (#34913398)

    Google Groups user named Jim_Higgins posted a column

    Google Groups user

    The original message shows that Jim_Higgins doesn't post to USENET (and at least the majority of his posts seem to be to newsgroups) from Google Groups. What are Righthaven going to do next, sue all news server admins?

  • Seriously. Tell me where to post. I want to get "sued" by these jackasses. Just tell me what to do. What do I have to post, where? Let's rumble, Righthaven.

  • I, like most geeks use Adblock to get rid of stuff I don't like about the Internet; not ads for the most part, mainly tracking/popup scripts and such like.

    I wonder if there is a market for creating subscription lists of a more political nature, for example, blocking any newspaper site which has sold it's rights to Righthaven. Of course it wouldn't get much in the way subscribers since most people don't know/care about the issue?
    • by tonique (1176513)

      At least no such things are listed on the adblockplus subscriptions page. https://adblockplus.org/en/subscriptions [adblockplus.org] There are a rickroll blacklist, though, and filters for blocking social interaction...

    • Adblock doesn't really stop tracking. The tool was designed to protect your eyes, not your privacy. If a flash ad does contain tracking tools it may help.
      NoScript blocks all tracking attempts, but it's a bit obnoxious.
  • ...this sounds like "smart vulture, er, lawyer shows elderly owner of paper how 'those damned kids' on the interwebz are 'stealing his content' without attribution, and explains all the hundreds of potential lawsuit targets that they can sue to stop this craziness".

    It certainly doesn't sound like a reasonable newspaper owner who has any concept of how the DMCA or internet works.

  • how can a private party dismiss a LAW, while using the law to sue others for their own interest.
    • by canajin56 (660655)
      Well, because you should never trust a Slashdot summary, they're always lies. Righthaven has stated that copying 100% of an article doesn't become fair use just because they cited the source they copied it from. Slashdot disagrees, they think if you don't steal credit, it's completely and totally fair to make as many copies as you like and do whatever you like with them.
  • If reposting a news story with attribution in a couple obscure blogs can seriously damage that paper, if the Review Journal can so easily be diminished, it's a pathetic operation that ought to be put out of its misery immediately.

    I bet they even have pretentions of claiming some special First Amendment rights, but they don't deserve them.

    I'd say when they hired a roomful of sleazy lawyers, they were admitting their complete defeat as a newspaper, as a journalistic enterprise.

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