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The Courts

The Rise of the Copyright Trolls 169

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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  • by cornicefire ( 610241 ) on Friday June 04, 2010 @10:33AM (#32458068)
    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.
  • "Protection" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Friday June 04, 2010 @10:36AM (#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.
  • by kalirion ( 728907 ) on Friday June 04, 2010 @10:38AM (#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?

  • 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 this disconnect between legal status quo and technological status quo is genuinely dangerous

    we are talking about the financial victimization of individuals of limited legal means who have committed no moral crime, but are simply riding the wave of technological progress... while being pulled down by an undertow of legal anachronism

    much of ip law needs to be junked, due to the rise of the internet and the new status quo for how media is distributed. understandings of what is "right" and "wrong" based on dead technological eras are not valid. of course, they are still legally valid, and that's the whole problem with these free enterprise legal goon squads

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

    by rattaroaz ( 1491445 ) on Friday June 04, 2010 @11:14AM (#32458724)
    This was the model for creative art for hundreds of years. There were patrons, who sponsored commission on a work. Afterwards, the patron owned the work, but the rest of the world got to appreciate it. In other words, the patron could use it for whatever purpose they wanted, but the rest of the world could only use it for viewing (modern equivalent of non-commercial purposes imo). The flaw in using this model in the modern era, is that neither group can make sick money. Honest living, yes. Sick money, no.
  • Copyright 101 (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 04, 2010 @11:30AM (#32458994)

    Must be an original creative work. The facts presented cannot be copyrighted, nor the arrangement of such facts. The work must be of such sufficient length as to be original in both form and content. Nothing prevents someone from linking to a site and paraphrasing the content in a summary. Nothing prevents a site from barring direct access to the site (paywalls, etc.) Copyright holders (not 'owners') can control all manner of how the content is copied except for fair use criteria, which almost no one understands. Unless the copyrighted material is registered, the damages that one can claim in court for infringement are limited. Liability for infringement is based on intent, such as reselling or not. Claims for damages cannot be based on ad hoc business models. For example, you cannot claim that copyright infringement hurt your t-shirt sales because someone linked to your blog, or your dog washing business or your restaurant, etc. You need to prove a direct link between infringement and loss of sales. You can claim against lost sales instead of the stricter lost income, which means that even if you are losing money selling your copyrighted material you can claim damages.

    The people going to court hear a motivated by money, not legal arguments, so it's simply a question to them of time and money.

  • by cornicefire ( 610241 ) on Friday June 04, 2010 @12:04PM (#32459466)
    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.

The other line moves faster.