Righthaven’s Business Model

They pretty much admit it. Here’s the Wired article speaking about how they are pretty much buying up newspaper content in order to sue bloggers:

Gibson’s vision is to monetize news content on the backend, by scouring the internet for infringing copies of his client’s articles, then suing and relying on the harsh penalties in the Copyright Act — up to $150,000 for a single infringement — to compel quick settlements. Since Righthaven’s formation in March, the company has filed at least 80 federal lawsuits against website operators and individual bloggers who’ve re-posted articles from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, his first client.

Wired notes that the Recording Industry Association of America tried a similar tactic, and did not reap the rewards they had hoped. If you look at their business model, it breaks down if people stand up to them. The amounts they can reasonably claim are much smaller than what RIAA or the MPAA could claim. If 1000 people download a movie from you, that’s 20,000 dollars in damages. But what is the amount of money a paper makes off a single article in advertising? The amount for a few months can’t be more than a couple of hundred bucks for a really popular article.

Any newspaper adopting this tactic is going to lose out. If Stevens Media is really serious about cozying up to Righthaven, then fine — I already have Bitter searching through my archives to ensure that any links to their papers are removed, and I will blacklist them for the future. The Internet doesn’t work this way, guys. You have a right to protect your copyrights, and to prevent verbatim reproduction of your work, but one should do that with an strong eye toward fair-use, toward treating bloggers as reasonable people who don’t want to abuse someone’s copyright, and with an even stronger eye toward the PR implications of being bozos. In most cases, the minor amount you’re losing from advertising isn’t worth destroying good will among a community that’s capable of sending significant traffic, and thus advertising revenue, your way.

16 thoughts on “Righthaven’s Business Model”

  1. Generally speaking I will always credit other blogs with stories I get from them. If I don’t, it’s because I got it from another source.

  2. Here I thought LVJR management was pretty smart.


    Won’t reference them again. Hope they like the silence.

  3. I know I don’t speak for everyone but if an article linked by a blogger truly interests me, I almost ALWAYS click through and read the original site and see if there are comments on the story there. What that means is that the blogger has just provided FREE advertising for their material and their advertisers just got ad impressions that would have never happened otherwise…anyone with half a clue (and lacking an agenda or just plain old greed) would see that. Why else would a PA boy be scanning a news article from an AZ newsrag?

    Oh, BTW, guess what local dead tree publication will NOT be found on my table at breakfast during SHOT next January? I think NSSF and everyone else at SHOT should do their dead level best to see that the Las Vegas Review-Journal gets no advertising and no sales from us next year…maybe they’ll understand how the internet works then.

  4. The proof that this is just about greed is that instead of sending a demand letter to remove material in excess of Fair Use (which would have taken about ten minutes), they immediately filed suit.

  5. As much as I dislike this model for IP, it works great for patent trolls, as noted in the opening of the Wired article.

    Laws like the DMCA make copyright infringement just as attractive as patent law to trolls because of the statutory damages.

    The only difference is that many of his targets don’t appear to have deep pockets, compared to the corporate targets that patent trolls go after.

    I often wonder how these people sleep at night.

  6. How does these people sleep at night? Robert Heinlein, after World War II, was reading through letters and documents seized from Nazi Germany. He found a letter from a soldier assigned to a concentration camp somewhere in the East to his wife. There had been some minor infraction of the rules in one of the inmates barracks, so they had been nailed inside to starve to death. His sleeping quarters were close enough to the wire that the crying of those in the barracks was making it hard to get a good night’s sleep.

    People who believe that the sum total of morality is, “He who dies with the most toys, wins” are very capable of sleeping quite soundly, thank you!

  7. What we can hope for Clay is that this leads to some true introspection on the nature of copyrights and the internet. One can be bolstered by the fact that it has now been determined that “jailbreaking” an iPhone to install software other than that approved by Apple does not violate copyright law.

    What Righthaven is doing is racketeering plain and simple. By outright stating that these properties were acquired with the expressed purpose of pursuing infringement suits, they admitted to criminal activity. Such a statement was phenomenally stupid but that shouldn’t be surprising from bottom-feeders such as these. If they cannot show how they were planning to utilize these properties in the future to generate revenue, such a statement is an outright admission of racketeering. Morons. Where is the ACLU when something IMPORTANT is going on such as this?

  8. “What they are doing is wrong, but it’s not criminal activity and not racketeering.”

    This is not clear. Look up the legal definition of extortion. Attorneys doing similar things in California have been disbarred, and some jailed.

  9. The purpose of copyright is basically to prevent the “dilution of value” of the work. If the stated value of the work to them involves pursuing copyright infringement, wouldn’t any gains acquired via lawsuits automatically invalidate their claim of devaluation?

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