Monday, August 09, 2010

A New Litigiuous Industry?

I don't know how many of you dear readers are aware of the tempest that has recently exploded concerning the issue of "intellectual property" as it applies to the internet and specifically the "blogosphere". In any event, thus far over 91 lawsuits have been filed in the federal district court of Nevada. These suits generally claim "theft" of copyrighted material by mostly small mom and pop web sites and blogs. The suits have been filed by a firm called RightHaven  and the defendants for the most part have not received prior to the filings any cease and desist orders or demands to remove the objectionable material.

Thus far the bulk of the allegedly stolen material has been copied, excerpted from or linked to publications in the daily Las Vegas (Nevada) Review Journal whose publisher is Mr. Sherman Frederick. His decision to assign copy rights to his newspaper's material to RightHaven in order that they, rather than his newspaper, pursue litigation is explained in a column/blog posting dated 28 May 2010. I will neither quote nor paraphrase Mr. Frederick here and indeed link to his screed with considerable trepidation.  If you, dear reader choose to follow the link I would advise you to read it carefully and pay special attention to the comments before drawing your own conclusions.  There are even those who connect (tenuously) the RightHaven staff to White House officials.  You decide.

Mr. Frederick, in his analogy to an auto displayed and "stolen" from his front yard seems to engage in what could be termed in the opinion of this humble blogster "tortured" logic.  He also links to a National Public Radio interview on the prior "scooping" of the McChrystal piece in Rolling Stone magazine  but does not allude to any instance in which his publication suffered any such outrage.

It would appear that the Review-Journal is a business enterprise. That is, they display paid advertising which is incidentally viewed by web surfers following links to their site. If bloggers and other web sites fail to attribute material lifted from the R-J they should by all means be placed on notice to cease and desist and sued if they fail to do so. However, it seems counter productive to prosecute in the federal courts those who avail themselves in good faith of the doctrine of "fair use"  with attribution and links. Unless of course such a strategy is your business model.     

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