A perverse distortion of the notion of “information responsibility.”
We've discussed display advertising, classified, online ads, paywalls, even donations. But here’s one we hadn't thought of, litigation. In the past year, a company called Righthaven has filed more than 250 lawsuits against blogs and websites that have reproduced some or all of a piece of newspaper content – article, photo, illustration, whatever – without permission.
Here’s how it works: Newspaper publishers like Stephens Media, owner of The Las Vegas Review Journal or Media News, owner of The Denver Post, agree to work with Righthaven. They sell some copyrights on their articles to Righthaven, which then trawls the Web looking for people who have posted all or part of copyrighted content online. Righthaven then sues those people, usually for 150,000 dollars, plus it often demands the infringing party give the entire site over to Righthaven. No warning letter, no takedown request, just a lawsuit.
Reporter Joe Mullin of Paidcontent.org has been closely following Righthaven. He says that many Tom, Dick and Harry defendants, lacking the resources to fight in court, quickly settle for thousands of dollars.