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The Visual Guide To The Business Model of Copyright Troll Righthaven, LLC

Today I was on the former Air America Radio host Nicole Sandler’s show Radio Or Not. The podcast is here. I discussed the Righthaven predatory business practices and the disturbing lack of coverage in the blogosphere or mainstream media about it. Thanks, Nicole, for having the spine to allow me to get this story out.

I recently blogged about bottom feeding legal outfit and copyright troller Righthaven, LLC. Its March lawsuit against me has put the Blend’s existence in jeopardy – and not just this virtual political coffeehouse, but many others blogs whose proprietors who were forced to settle rather than go through a lengthy trial. (Thank you, by the way, for the kind tips in the jar over the last couple of days.)

Righthaven is suing, in a random and sloppy way, activist bloggers, non-profits and personal bloggers for violation of copyright. This includes retroactive lawsuits prior to Righthaven’s alleged holding of copyright.

The strategy of Righthaven is to sue thousands of these websites and counts on the fact that many are unfunded and will be forced to settle out of court. Most cases are being filed in a Nevada Federal Court and must be fought in this jurisdiction.

The earlier post went into great detail about Righthaven’s rise (and likely soon-to-be-fall after some rulings and revealed agreements went public last week). Even with all this news in the wind, there has been nearly utter silence about this topic – unbelievably scandalous, as this affects the relationship between blogs and traditional media, as well as U.S. Copyright Law.

I’ve received comments and emails about the possible reasons for this silence, including the hoary “it’s too complicated.” Jesus, it’s not that complicated and I’m no attorney. So to take that tired excuse off the table, I’ve constructed a visual guide to the relationships involved in Righthaven’s business model. Take a look.

Click to enlarge.

At its core, the Las Vegas Review-Journal and The Denver Post are the intere$ted parties that have worked to profit and keep their hands clean of legal efforts that, among other things, involved suing an autistic man on fixed income for thousands of dollars for publishing a widely-circulated photo of a TSA agent feeling up a passenger’s thigh. (That’s the same one I was slapped for, along with the The Drudge Report and Raw Story).

The good news (not for me, though) is that the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s work on the cases involving Stephens Media, LLC, the jig is up.

7.2 Despite any such Copyright Assignment, Stephens Media shall retain (and is hereby granted by Righthaven) an exclusive license to Exploit the Stephens Media Assigned Copyrights for any lawful purpose whatsoever and Righthaven shall have no right or license to Exploit or participate in the receipt of royalties from the Exploitation of the Stephens Media Assigned Copyrights other than the right to proceeds in association with a Recovery.

We’ll keep you posted on whether a similar arrangement was made with Media News Group is unsealed. Other than legal blogs or Righthaven Victims, it may be the only place you’ll learn anything.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding