Newspapers Hunting Down Bloggers that Infringe on Image Copyrights

Ryan Whitwam

Newspapers have had a tough time dealing with the changing media landscape over recent years. If things weren't so bad, papers like The Denver Post and The Las Vegas Review-Journal might not be working with a company called Righthaven. The sole business of Righthaven is to acquire the copyright for various content from newspapers like The Denver Post, and patrol the web looking for infringing use. Posting an image owned by Righthaven could mean a nasty lawsuit.

One 20-year old blogger got such a rude awakening last year when Righthaven came after him for posting an image of a TSA agent patting down a traveler. That the picture had gone viral made no difference. Righthaven offered a $6000 settlement, which was rejected. Critics of Righthaven allege that the company's only goal is to file frivolous suits against those that cannot afford to defend themselves. An executive from The Denver Post, when asked about the suits said, "To allow others who have not shared in that investment to reap the benefit ultimately hurts our ability to continue to fund that investment at the same level.”

Righthaven has apparently filed hundreds of cases for inappropriate use of copyrighted images. The Media Bloggers Association has filed amicus briefs in several cases claiming that Righthaven's actions are fraudulent. The case against the 20-year old blogger was eventually dropped, but many bloggers have settled. Do you think this sort of legal action is acceptable?

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