Righthaven's Days May Be Numbered: Federal Judges Are Ruling Against Standing and More

More than one federal district judge appears to have had enough with Righthaven's strategy of buying copyrights from various media sources (usually in Nevada) and then suing for copyright infringement under federal law without so much as a form cease and desist letter.  (For details on the Righthaven plan of action and its early success, read my prior posts on the subject.)

The worm turns.

Federal judges setting in more than one state don't seem to think that Righthaven is doing the right thing, apparently.  Standing has been found wanting.  Fair use has been found.  Copyright has been determined not to be at issue in the first place.

For a nice recap of these various court opinions, read David Kravets' article in Wired's June 20, 2011 issue, "Righthaven Loss: Judge Rules Reposting Entire Article Is Fair Use."

Today's news: Righthaven isn't paying attorneys' fees.

This morning, TechDirt reports that Righthaven is avoiding paying around $3000 in attorneys' fees to a defendant even though it's been ordered to do so by a federal judge.  The company has asked the court for a 30 day stay ... doesn't sound smart, but we'll see what happens.


Lawyers: Please Stop Stealing News Video for Your Firm Web Site, and YES You Are, Too....

It's Friday, thankfully ... because if I have another client conference where I have to explain this simple fact to a lawyer this week, I may start pulling my hair out.  And I like my hair, I don't want to do this. 

So, I'm going to rant here on my blog instead, and here goes:

When an attorney is interviewed by a reporter and that interview gets uploaded as a video on the reporter's website -- usually, a local television station's web site, or that lawyer is quoted extensively in a publication -- usually, a daily newspaper serving his local community, then it's understandable for that lawyer to be excited about this and want to share this great news. 

And not just with his family and friends, of course.  This is great exposure for the attorney: he's been acknowledged as an expert in whatever the topic of the interview was - from the Mets vs. the Yankees to the future of class action lawsuits in view of the 2011 U.S. Supreme Court decisions in Wal-Mart and AT&T.  Whatever.

Clients should know about this, right?  Sure.  And, referring attorneys should be aware of this, right?  Yes.

However, this interview cannot simply be taken from that online website and stuck on the law firm web site or blog without gaining the permission of its owner, the publication that's uploaded it onto their site.

No. No. No. 

Too many lawyers do this, and they should know better.  If they are sued for copyright infringement, that law degree is going to be a big fact used by the plaintiff that they did know better. 

And yes, sometimes you will have to pay for the use of the video or article.  How much will depend upon the publication.  There are times where the publication waives that charge, I've seen this happen more than once.

However, they're the ones who have to waive it.  You have to get permission, simple as that.

And if you think I'm being picky (and yes, I've been accused of being picky and it's true, I am) then think again.  Web sites are being sued without so much as any prior notice (e.g., cease and desist letter) in more and more parts of the country for just this sort of thing.

Go read my posts regarding Righthaven if you're interested. 

In the meantime, STOP stealing those news stories where your name is mentioned by just sticking them on your web site or blog.  Stop. It.

Okay, rant over.