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The Courts The Media

Righthaven Copyright Lawsuit Backfires 88

Hugh Pickens writes "Steve Green reports in the Las Vegas Sun that US District Judge James Mahan has ruled that the Center for Intercultural Organizing, an Oregon nonprofit, did not infringe on copyrights when it posted an entire Las Vegas Review-Journal story on its website without authorization and that there was no harm to the market for the story. Mahan stressed that his ruling hinged largely on the CIO's nonprofit status and said the copyright lawsuit would be dismissed because the nonprofit used it in an educational way, didn't try to use the story to raise money, and because the story in question was primarily factual as opposed to being creative. 'The market (served by the CIO) is not the R-J's market,' says Mahan. This is the second fair use defeat for Righthaven and is significant since it involved an entire story post rather than a partial story post. Green says that Righthaven's strategy of suing 250 web site and demanding $150,000 in damages plus forfeiture of the web site's domain name has clearly backfired and now Righthaven, the self-appointed protector of the newspaper industry, has left the newspaper industry with less copyright protection than if they never filed their lawsuits at all."
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Righthaven Copyright Lawsuit Backfires

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  • by _0xd0ad ( 1974778 ) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @02:32PM (#35552046) Journal

    I thought violation of copyright didn't depend on whether you were trying to make money off the unauthorized use.

    And even if facts can't be copyrighted, a specific arrangement of them can be. The phone book's pages are copyrighted, even if the names and numbers aren't. You can copy the information but you can't just scan the pages themselves and reprint them.

    I don't think that ruling is correct and I expect it'll be overturned.

  • About time (Score:5, Interesting)

    by shawnhcorey ( 1315781 ) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @02:54PM (#35552190) Homepage
    Now if someone could convince a judge that companies (like patent trolls) that suffer no loses should get no compensation, then things might start looking up.
  • Re:Less protection? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mpoulton ( 689851 ) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @03:07PM (#35552258)

    Um, no. The legal status is not determined by a judge de novo, but instead existed already. The outcome from lawsuit just exposes it, but it was already there, in the statutes, in the precedents, all of which you could look up.

    I see you believe in the "natural law" theory. I think it has some merit as a means of describing the philosophical basis of law, but most scholars now agree that's not really how things work. In reality, the law is not a preexisting and inherently complete construct that waits for humans to discover and apply it. "Case law" is so named for a reason: courts do, in fact, make new law when they issue rulings that clarify or modify the existing body of law. This case did so. Prior to this ruling, it was not clear what the result of such a case would be, and by deciding it this way, the judge has created law that answers the questions presented here. This is one of the essential functions of a common law legal system, though it is also one of the more controversial functions in the U.S. due to the inherent overlap between the legislative and judicial branches of our government that results.

    IANAL, but IAA law student with 6 weeks until graduation.

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