How to Save U.S. Newspapers: Sue

Las Vegas-based Righthaven has been buying the copyrights of newspaper content for the sole purpose of suing blogs and websites that use articles without permission – his business model for this seems to be the tactics used by the RIAA against file sharers. CEO Steve Gibson says that he’s already making money on his plan, though he doesn’t offer any numbers.

Gibson’s plan is to monetize news content by sifting through the internet looking for websites and blogs that are infringing on client newspaper articles and then suing them for damages. This model relies on harsh penalties from Copyright Act — up to $150,000 for a single infringement – and quick settlements. Since its formation in March of this year, Righthaven claims to have filed around 80 federal lawsuits against websites and bloggers who have allegedly re-posted articles from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the company’s first client.

"We believe it’s the best solution out there,” Gibson says. “Media companies’ assets are very much their copyrights. These companies need to understand and appreciate that those assets have value more than merely the present advertising revenues."

But Gibson isn’t satisfied with only one client and plans to expand. The Review-Journal’s publisher, Stephens Media in Las Vegas, operates 70 other newspapers in nine states, and Gibson says that he has signed an agreement to cover those properties. Righthaven’s lawsuits are similar to campaigns by the music and movie industries. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has sued about 20,000 thousand file sharers over the last five years, while the U.S. Copyright Group – formed this year – has filed 20,000 federal lawsuits against BitTorrent users for sharing movies.

But the results of these lawsuits are questionable; for example, the RIAA’s lawsuits were mostly a bust in terms of spending. Record labels spent $64 million in legal fees only to recover about $1.3 million in damages and settlements.

Gibson claims that he’s just getting started and that his firm has other media clients that he won’t name until the lawsuits start rolling out.


Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on RedditEmail this to someone


  1. 0
    FlakAttack says:

    Newspaper is on its way out, these people are simply capitalizing on the inflexibility of the media corporations. The only winners here are the lawyers.

  2. 0
    Defenestrator says:

    There is still such a thing as "Fair Use" under the copyright laws.  Lifting a paragraph and attributing where the quote came from is perfectly okay.  Writing a "plot summary" is okay.

    Copying and pasting an entire news article and calling it your own is NOT okay.  It never has been.  If someone copies and takes credit for your plot summary, they’ve just stolen from you.

    Frankly, I’m surprised it’s taken this long for someone to start suing over this.

    If you are a blogger, you should NOT be copying other people’s work. 

    I’m amazed at the overall ignorance in this thread.

  3. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    Can you be sued?  Yes.  Would the suit be successful?  Depending on how you were using the copyrighted material, probably not.


    Andrew Eisen

  4. 0
    Kajex says:

    Does this mean that we can be sued for quoting books, writing out plot summaries, etc.?

    Also, one thing I’m almost certain of is that alot of bloggers get incredibly anal over citing their sources, so I’m not sure how this would be a problem worth suing over.

  5. 0
    King of Fiji says:

    The days of daily newspapers are coming to the end but remember to support your local 50 cent weekly.

    They are more releveant than the daily papers by a long shot.

  6. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    No.  This article is sourcing a website, not a newspaper.  Plus, it features only one quote from the sourced article, not a copy/paste of the whole thing.


    Andrew Eisen

  7. 0
    Andrew Eisen says:

    It’s the text of the articles, not the news itself.  Who this guy is going after are folks who are lifting entire articles from newspapers and posting them online.


    Andrew Eisen

  8. 0
    tetracycloide says:

    How do you copyright the news?  I mean copyrighting the text of the articles, sure, but the news itself?  Are there really blogs out there that just copy paste stuff verbatim from sources without citing or paraphrasing?

    my vanity is justified

Leave a Reply