Thursday, February 24, 2011

Righthaven has its own site! (Whee!); Victims' blog lists legal resources; DC news site falls on hard times with layoffs

Well, Righthaven LLC finally has done what any amateur self-publisher did by around 1997, set up its own domain and website.  It had to happen.  It calls itself (“s’appele” in French) “The Nation’s Pre-Eminent Copyright Enforcer”.   Steven A. Gibson even gives his business “PII” on the site, but not much else. (Note that McAfee Site-Advisor rates Righthaven as yellow based on "reputation analysis". Bizarre!  I have a posting about SiteAdvisor today on my Internet Safety blog.  I took out the link here as a result of that [it can affect my rating] but it's just spelled "righthaven.com"; McAfee says use with caution!) 

In the meantime, the Las Vegas Sun (don’t confuse this with the Las Vegas Journal Review; it’s the “other” Las Vegas newspaper) has a "roundup" Feb. 21 with little odds and ends about the Righthaven mess, link here.    For one thing, Righthaven apparently let its Nevada business license expire Jan. 31.  Technically, Righthaven belongs to Net Sortie Systems LLC.  It also has a business partner in Little Rock AR (Clinton country!) “SI Content Monitor”, part of the Warren Stephens group of companies.

Green reports that a number of suits have been settled with terms not disclosed to the press. That’s discouraging, people giving in.

However, Nathan and Linda Muller (in Pennsylvania) got Righthaven to drop action against them because they had sold the website “Wehategringos” about illegal immigration, and that the new owners had posted the supposedly infringing material.  But the couple would have had legal expenses defending itself anyway. So even after a site has been sold there is practical risk to original owners, who may not know what new owners may do.

There is now a page on the Righthaven Victims blog which lists five legal resources for defense, including Randazza  (link, note its First Amendment reference ) and Woods Erickson (link ) as well as EFF.
Whereas the direct targets for the Righthaven suits are supposed (and maybe actual) copyright infringements, the practical concern may have more to do with low-cost competition in the news business from what Andrew Keen has called “The Cult of the Amateur” (Book review blog, June 26, 2007).  Establishment news businesses keep having a hard time. For example, Allbritton Communication’s venterous news site “tbd” , launched in August 2010 (Arlington VA) will have mass layoffs as operations move back to station WJLA and become a local entertainment site.  (Washington Business story by Jeff Clabaugh here). 

 I have mentioned the ambiguity of the DMCA Safe Harbor provision with respect to Righthaven to my own Congressmann (Moran D-VA) in a recent email, and will be following up in more detail soon. Congress had better get back to work!  But one complication is this: recently, someone asked me to publish an article by her on 9/11 responders and their health on another of my blogs.  I cannot verity that the source did not come from Stephens or a similar source, and I do not have Safe Harbor downstream protection because I cannot qualify as a service provider, unless I set up a mechanism to accept other people's submissions in some volume and regularity. That still needs to be clarified. (In that case, I wrote my own summary of what she sent me, to play it safe, and posted on the Issues Blog today.) 

The Righthaven lawsuit count remains at 241, no new cases since Feb. 7. 

Picture: Pentagon City, Arlington VA. "Be brave and shave!".  Barbers' chairs are dangerous!

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