New York – The New York Times reported earlier this week on Righthaven, LLC, a company that has sued hundreds of bloggers for copyright violation. The N.Y. Times story profiles one such blogger, Brian Hill, a 20 year-old North Carolina resident, who was sued by Righthaven after he used a photo of an airport security pat-down on his blog. Righthaven has filed over 250 copyright infringement lawsuits since its founding in 2010, including 24 in March 2011. According to reports, its business model is to purchase assignments of copyrights from newspapers and similar organizations and then search for infringing web postings to sue their publishers.
A Google search on Righthaven reveals that there are numerous websites devoted to condemning Righthaven, calling the company “a bottom feeding legal outfit” and “copyright trolls.” As the N.Y. Times story reported, copyright attorneys have questioned whether the fair use doctrine might protect some of the bloggers sued by Righthaven. The Media Bloggers Association has filed an amicus curiae brief support the rights of the bloggers and raising First Amendment issues. Other attorneys have accused Righthaven of fraud, according to a report from the Las Vegas Sun.
Practice Tip: Although Righthaven has not filed any copyright infringement lawsuits in Indiana district courts to date, this story illustrates the importance of ensuring that a web blogger has rights to use all materials that are posted on the blog. This story brings forth yet again the continuing controversies surrounding copyrights and the Internet.