Opinion: Righthaven lacks exclusive copyright ownership of Stephens Media news articles

Electronic Frontier Foundation Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl says that in obtaining  from a federal district court an agreement between Righthaven and Stephens Media, it discovered that although Righthaven claimed in its suits for copyright infringement that it held exclusive rights to reproduce and distribute Stephens Media news articles, that the agreement stated that 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.”

Opsahl thinks Righthaven lacks standing to sue since copyright law does not allow suits for infringement unless  rights to reproduce and distribute a work are actually being infringed.

Righthaven is attempting to create a business model of  suing bloggers for copyright infringement. It does not write the news articles but instead trolls the Internet, looking for news articles published by Stephens Media or Media News Group and then gets the publisher to “assign” the copyright so it can file a lawsuit. -db

From a commentary from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, April 18, 2011, by Kurt Opsahl.

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