Righthaven Lawsuits: A Chilling Effect on the Blogosphere?
There’s new meaning to the word “viral.”
Normally the word is used in a positive sense when something is so popular on the web that it is shared with as many people as possible and “hits” go through the roof. In this case, some are saying viral is an infection emanating from a Las Vegas newspaper and its hired hit men.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal has contracted with a company called Righthaven. Righthaven sues web sites that they say are violating the copyright laws by sharing the R-J stories. No warning, no request to take down the material, no shot across the bow—it’s nuclear right out of the box. Virtually every other newspaper across the country asks “offending” web sites to just take down the material, and lawsuits are used only as a last resort.
I know, I’m being sued by Righthaven/R-J. My web site, www.LocalsLoveVegas.com is pretty much a hobby with video and news stories about this crazy city. The site is apolitical and focuses on fun things to do in one of the most enjoyable cities on the planet. I didn’t know there was a problem until a writer from the competing paper in town, Steve Green, wrote an article about my lawsuit in the Las Vegas Sun.
Even though, as the lawsuit against me acknowledges, I gave full credit to the Review-Journal along with the writer of the story, and a link back to the R-J to read the entire story. They are still suing. The lawsuit is asking for me to pay $75,000, court costs, attorney’s fees, and they want my web domain.
Here’s the relevant section of U.S. Copyright Law regarding “fair use:”
The distinction between fair use and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission…