Warning!

Lawyers are always on the lookout for new ways to make a buck, as evidenced by the recent emergence of the "marking troll".

Newspapers, especially local or neighborhood newspapers, are wont to publish brief articles lauding local individuals or businesses, so-called “puff pieces.” The individuals or businesses are wont to copy these articles onto their websites, blogs, or other electronic forms of self-aggrandizement.

Steve Gibson, an attorney, is the CEO of RightHaven, which has begun buying the copyrights to these articles. RightHaven then sues the unfortunate egomaniac for – you guessed it – COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT. Given that the plaintiff in such an action may elect statutory minimum damages of up to $150K, Steve is in a position to exert real pressure on the defendants to settle quickly. Settlements in these cases are typically in the range of $1,500 to $3,500 – about what it would cost to hire a defense attorney.

Steve currently has relations with about 70 newspapers and is seeking to expand. He has already filed over 80 suits, with “hundreds more … already in the works. We perceive there to be millions, if not billions, of infringements out there.”

So, all you electronically-savvy but copyright-challenged folks, BE WARNED. There may be a troll out to get you.

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