Thursday, January 20, 2011

Salt Lake Tribune joins Righthaven troll; EFF notes new concerns about downstream liability in Washington DC

A newsletter in Utah, the City Weekly, has an article by Jesse Fruhwirth, “Don’t Get Sued by the Trib”, link here,   referring to an explicit warning by the Salt Lake Tribune, which is joining the Denver Post and Las Vegas Journal Review in using Righthaven to file retroactive “troll” lawsuits on bloggers after purchasing stories.

The story also refers to a battle in Utah where the LDS-controlled Deseret News is trying to block competing newspapers from printing Associated Press content. (The AP has threatened bloggers, too, but that hasn’t been going anywhere lately; but original AP-site stories that you link to tend to become archived and expire.)
The Salt Lake Tribune says it has no objection to “fair use” of its stories by bloggers. Righthaven has lost one case in court to a fair use claim.

The article gives some guidelines to what is “safe” (Marathon Man, have you), and refers to Las Vegas Sun coverage. It says paraphrasing is OK, but some news outlets say their stories may not be "rewritten". Be careful about image or video embeds that did not come from the newspaper itself (I wonder still about YouTube embeds from others).

The article reports warnings that anyone (any blogger or message board user) who has reprinted news stories from any of these papers (or even major excerpts) without permission is likely to be sued by Righthaven soon.

On Jan. 19, Electronic Frontier Foundation published a brief op-ed “Fuzzy Boundaries: The Impact of Vague Secondary Liability Doctrines on Technology Innovation”, link here.  This is a response to an upcoming paper by Paul Szynol at a Tech Freedom “The Next Digital Decade” conference in Washington DC.  The existential threats of secondary downstream liability to “free entry” have been well covered here. The threats here seem non-specific. The EFF paper makes a comparison to secondary liability in rust belt industries, like auto, where they can easily stifle innovation.

But imagine the mess if Righthaven wanted to go after the companies that facilitate the copyright infringement. But that’s exactly what the DMCA safe harbor is supposed to stop. But safe harbor protects the service providers, not the speakers. That’s a point we still have to delve into.

It’s interesting to me how the recent hit film “The Green Hornet” poses the question, should anyone own the news?  Nope.

1 comment:

Ken said...

We bloggers must unite against Salt Lake Tribune and their masters News Media group. Contact the trib and let them know utah bloggers will shut them out of all internet discussions and get zero links back to their site if they attack a single site via the copyright trolling outfit Righthaven