DECEMBER 21ST, 2010
Announcement by Rebecca S. ReaganThe copyright troll Righthaven has brought over 190 cases—and counting—against bloggers, online journalists and others since March of this year. While EFF has taken on two of these cases directly (Democratic Underground and DiBiase) we have also been attempting to help those sued to secure counsel. If the tactics of these trolls trouble you and you are a member of the bar with experience in copyright litigation, these defendants need your help.
What’s Righthaven? Righthaven is a Nevada company operated by Las Vegas attorney Steven Gibson, whose “sole purpose” is “suing blogs and websites.”. It searches the Internet for bloggers and websites that contain posts with content from certain newspapers. When it finds one, it purportedly buys the copyright from the newspaper publisher, applies for a copyright registration, and then files a lawsuit against the blogger or website. Its current partners include theLas Vegas Review-Journal (owned by Stephens Media LLC, who helped form the company) and the Denver Post.
Just as in many other copyright troll shakedowns, Righthaven relies on the threat of enormous copyright statutory damages (up to $150,000) to scare defendants, often individual bloggers operating non-commercial websites, into a quick settlements. They also threaten to seize the domain names, a threat without basis in law. Even if a blogger has meritorious defenses, the costs of defending can often be overwhelming – unless they blogger has pro bono counsel to help even the odds.