Many bloggers have tried to find a business model for blogging, but Steve Gibson's figured out a way to make money off the bloggers themselves. He relies on suing them.
Gibson is CEO of Las Vegas company Righthaven , which purchases the copyright to newspaper content and then sues bloggers and websites that use the articles without obtaining permission. The company, which was formed in March, has filed 80+ federal lawsuits against those using articles from the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Currently he hopes that Stephens Media, which owns the Las Vegas Review-Journal, will allow him to expand his business to other newspapers owned by the company.
There can be big bucks in suing bloggers. Violations of the U.S. Copyright Act can be punished with fines up to $150,000 for an infringement. Most individuals prefer to settle the lawsuits by paying out-of-court settlements.
Other companies have found suing for copyright infringement less lucrative. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has spent $64 million in legal actions, which resulted in $1.3 million in settlements. The U.S. Copyright Group , which represents independent film producers, has been suing BitTorrent users by the thousands for downloading pirated movies. When Time Warner Cable refused to turn over information about customers, the group threatened to sue Time Warner itself.
One early Righthaven target was NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws . NORML was sued for copying, among other pieces, "the literary work entitled 'Dr. Reefer's business goes to pot.'" NORML representatives pointed out that perhaps the company supplying the NORML newsfeed, the Media Awareness Project, might be a better target.
Complaints have been made that Righthaven does not contact sites and ask them to take the offending material down before filing suit. While takedown notices are not required, skipping that step when suing is not usual practice. Some defendants, such as the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, claim they were targeted for political reasons.
Righthaven has left some violations alone, such as the appearance of Las Vegas Review-Journal material on the website of U.S. Senate candidate Danny Tarkanian.
Bloggers are being warned not to use material from any of the newspapers owned by Stephens Media , lest they become victims of the practice.