Fortune published an interview with Righthaven’s founder. iMediaEthics has been reporting the copyright infringement lawsuits by Righthaven on behalf of newspapers the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Denver Post.
In the interview, Righthaven’s founder, Steven Gibson, stated that the Review-Journal’s former publisher Sherman Frederick “does not speak for us” in his columns. Frederick has written about the Righthaven lawsuits in his posts as publisher; in November, Frederick left his positions as Review-Journal publisher and CEO of the newspaper’s parent company, Stephens Media, to be a consultant and weekly columnist.
Gibson stated “We are absolutely continuing to develop the law of copyright in the area in respect to fair use.”
Righthaven has been criticized for filing lawsuits before asking web providers to take down the content. When asked about this, Gibson stated:
“I disagree with the premise of your question, but for the sake of argument, let’s assume the premise is true. You’re asking why we don’t do what someone else does…. I believe that there is a substantial growth of opinion and understanding that cease and desist letters are not effective in stemming the tide of infringement. If we as a society determine that copyright infringement is not something our society wants to see, and minimization is a societal good — if those premises are true — its fair to say there’s little incentive for people who receive a cease and desist to stop illegally reproducing content. If you know that that you’ll only get a letter….:”
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iMediaEthics disagrees with that position, as we recently sent out several requests to sites asking that they take down our full article and publish just a portion. Within hours, we received apologies and responses granting our request from most of the sites.
Gibson declined to explain why Righthaven asks for “the maximum penalty of $150,000” but explained that Righthaven may “continue to seek” domain names. He didn’t say how many — if any — domain names Righthaven has been awarded.
“For the most part, the vast majority of our cases have settled.” Gibson said “there are remarkable differences between” EFF getting involved in the lawsuits and Righthaven, even though neither are responsible for content in question. “You’re talking about the difference between someone taking ownership and someone being in the position of legal counsel.”