Tuesday, June 1, 2010

More on Tuff-N-Off Litigation and Bloggers Beware

Following up on my post yesterday, I did a quick copyright registration search and it appears that Righthaven, LLC has received 49 registrations in 2010 (notably, one registration is for a work published in 2009 and the rest appear to be from 2010) that all appear to be for news articles.

I looked at a sampling of these registrations and they, like the registration for the article at issue in the Tuff-N-Uff litigation, all appear to be registrations for articles authored by Stephens Media, LLC -- Stephens Media LLC owns the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

I then checked Pacer (the US Court filings database) and found that Righthaven, LLC has filed 26 cases since March 13, 2010 in the United States District Court for the District of Nevada. I looked at a sampling of these cases and they all (in my sampling at least) were actions for copyright infringement.

Thus, it appears to me that Stephens Media is assigning its copyright rights to Righthaven, LLC, Righthaven then procures a registration, and Righthaven then initiates lawsuits against those websites (or others) that have reprinted the articles seeking statutory damages.  From Pacer, it looks like three of these cases have settled. Unclear how much, if anything, Righthaven is paying Stephens for the assignment of ownership (I would guess Stephens is taking a cut of any settlement or damage award).

Assuming my understanding is correct, and I think it is based on the number of registrations received in 2010 and the number of cases filed in 2010, this appears to be a quick and dirty practice, i.e. aggressively filing lawsuits seeking statutory damages of $150,000 per publication.   Why not just pick up the phone and ask Tuff-N-Uff, or whoever else, to take down the content or pay for a license?  Are you really being harmed if someone reposts your content and cites you as the source (and wouldn't a retroactive license cover any such damage)?  If anything, it seems to me that reposters are just increasing your circulation. 

I generally link to a source anyway (instead of pasting it on my blog) , but this is just one more reason for me to abide by this practice. 

Fight Lawyer