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:
Gibsonâ€™s vision is to monetize news content on the backend, by scouring the internet for infringing copies of his clientâ€™s articles, then suing and relying on the harsh penalties in theÂ Copyright Act â€” up to $150,000 for a single infringement â€” to compel quick settlements. Since Righthavenâ€™s formation in March, the company has filed at least 80 federal lawsuits against website operators and individual bloggers whoâ€™ve re-posted articles from theÂ 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.