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.