March 1, 2011 - Last fall, our Wealth of Ideas blog introduced readers to RightHaven LLC, a company which buys rights to "puff pieces" in local newspapers and then files copyright infringement lawsuits against anyone who posts that content on their website - and often, the defendant is the very person, business or group featured in the article.
Now, RightHaven's activities have gotten then some decidedly bad publicity. In the past several months, they've sued (among others) a writer for reposting his own article about Las Vegas ticket prices on his blog; a 20-year-old who reposted a photo of a "TSA enhanced pat-down" on his alternative news website; and an "unemployed Boston cat blogger" over an article she posted on her nonprofit blog about birds that died in a wildlife sanctuary fire.
The bad PR and the number of defendants who choose to stand, fight and protest loudly, rather than settle - most of the time because they don't have the money to settle - may create a problem for RightHaven.
"I have repeatedly questioned Righthaven's profitability," said Eric Goldman, associate professor at the Santa Clara University School of Law in California and director of the High Tech Law Institute there, in this article. "Righthaven's model assumes lots of low-cost settlements. Instead, Righthaven has been running into buzzsaws of opposition on a surprising number of lawsuits - perhaps far more than it initially modeled. All of that opposition jacks up Righthaven's costs...For every quick settlement Righthaven gets, it's also getting embroiled in time-consuming and costly battles."