The backlash against IP trolls will leave everyone without rights

The backlash against IP trolls will leave everyone without rights

Summary: The behavior of some patent and copyright "trolls" is distasteful, but this doesn't justify dismantling intellectual property law.

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TOPICS: Legal, Piracy
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Remember Righthaven, the "copyright troll" that was threatening to sue anyone and everyone who reposted copyrighted content online? The company was ultimately drummed out of existence, in part for its distasteful tactics.

But the ouster of Righthaven left one issue on the table: can reposting an entire article ever be fair use?

I don't think it can. But a federal judge in Nevada, probably in his understandable eagerness to make Righthaven go away, issued a ruling that leaves the door open for infringing bloggers to argue that posting entire articles can be fair use or at least so harmless as to be non-actionable.

No matter how distasteful we find a company like Righthaven, that distaste should not be allowed to gut the body of intellectual property law upon which our global economy -- moving steadily away from production of goods -- depends. Republishing an entire article should be an absolute no no. I hope Righthaven gets the opportunity to appeal on that issue.

Outlets like Ars Technica and Wired have nothing but contempt for Righthaven. I'm interested to see how they react when bloggers reprint entire articles from their websites.

Topics: Legal, Piracy

Steven Shaw

About Steven Shaw

Steven Shaw used to be a litigation attorney at Cravath, Swaine &gMoore, a New York law firm, and is now the online community managergfor eGullet.org and the Director of New Media Studies at thegInternational Culinary Center.

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13 comments
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  • For wisdom...

    "That as we enjoy great Advantages from the Inventions of Others, we should be glad of an Opportunity to serve others by any Invention of ours, and this we should do freely and generously." - Benjamin Franklin
    Tony Burzio
    • It is the age of entitlement, Steven.

      The problem (and it is displayed quite well in the ignorant comments of the Wired article that you've linked to) is that a large segment of the population believe that we somehow have the right to copy any creative work for our own benefit, because the cost to the original author of that copy is somehow zero. It doesn't matter that the original creator had to put out his/her own time and effort to create it in the first place, once it's out there, it should belong to everyone.

      Because of this, it doesn't matter what kind of reforms are put in place for Copyright or Patent law, they will never be "good enough", because there will always be a need and a right for IP holders to sue those that infringe. Most people (including myself, and probably you) would agree that some changes need to take place in these areas, but nothing is going to satisfy everyone, and in the end, it is the creators and IP owners who really have a stake in this, over the consumers.

      Most people will disagree with you or me, but the Nevada judge was dead wrong in his interpretation of what constitutes fair use. It appears Righthaven's case should have been thrown out due to the "standing" provision, but not because of fair use.
      daftkey
      • Sore losers...

        ...know no bounds.

        Want a tissue?
        CaviarBlack
        • Care to make a counter-point?

          I have no skin in this game, so I don't know where you think I'm being a "sore loser" just by disagreeing with a judge.

          And I think you need the tissues more than I do - you forgot that wet spot behind your ears.
          daftkey
          • Think you can reach that "wet spot", daffy?

            lol...

            The fact is the legalities just aren't going your way so you pout about it. And you're right, most people would disagree with you.

            But keep bootlicking the corporations. They appreciate pwning you of your wallet.
            CaviarBlack
          • Tell me you don't rely on a corporation for your paycheque...

            "But keep bootlicking the corporations. They appreciate pwning you of your wallet."

            Let me guess - you're self employed, and all your suppliers and customers are private citizens or mom-and-pop shops - am I correct?

            It may surprise you to find that without those corporations I'm supposedly "bootlicking", you probably wouldn't have 90% of the things you take for granted today, and most of your friends wouldn't have jobs.

            Careful you don't spill your Starbucks latte on your Che Guevara t-shirt.
            daftkey
          • I don't

            "Let me guess - you're self employed, and all your suppliers and customers are private citizens or mom-and-pop shops - am I correct?"

            You got it.

            "It may surprise you to find that without those corporations I'm supposedly "bootlicking", you probably wouldn't have 90% of the things you take for granted today, and most of your friends wouldn't have jobs."

            And that doesn't make me beholden to them. I don't kiss corporate ass like you do. Especially when it concerns monopolies who have too much power and too much control. I didn't elect them.

            "Careful you don't spill your Starbucks latte on your Che Guevara t-shirt."

            I won't. I promise.

            lol...
            CaviarBlack
    • Ben Franklin...

      Not to disparage Ben Franklin, but you have to remember, that quote was written while the United States was just going through the beginning of the industrial revolution.

      Times are a wee bit different now.
      daftkey
  • "The backlash against IP trolls will leave everyone without rights"

    Wow.. hyperbole much?

    Here's an alternate possibility: The backlash against IP trolls will cause small changes to the IP system to prevent people from using it for predatory uses...
    The Werewolf!
    • Actually, Steven makes a good point where this isn't at all hyperbole...

      The judge basically gave a blanket judgement that copying the full text of articles, if they don't fall under what one would call a "creative" work (you know, like technical documentation, textbooks, newspaper articles) would be considered "fair use."

      There isn't much difference between this, and considering all "non creative" articles to be immediate public domain.

      Leaving one "without rights" completely, yeah, that would be hyperbole. But stating that certain works are "more fair to copy" than others by using some dubious distinction of what is "creative" or not does a lot more than just "improve" copyright - it removes it altogether.
      daftkey
  • The backlash is coming

    For far too many years corporate lobbyists have been perverting copyright law to the point where it no longer serves the public interest. The most immediate effect of the backlash has been mass "piracy" at the consumer level as a consequence of what people see as predatory tactics and unjust regulations.

    It's going to get worse. As enforcement actions become more intrusive and punitive, they will finally provoke reactions to all of the anti-consumer legislation that has been paid for by the lobbyists, and when legislators start feeling the heat, no amount of campaign money will convince them to stick their necks out for the corporations.
    terry flores
  • The backlash against IP trolls will leave everyone without rights

    Remember Righthaven, the "copyright troll" that was threatening to sue anyone and everyone who reposted copyrighted content online? The company was ultimately drummed out of existence, in part for its distasteful tactics.

    But the ouster of Righthaven left one issue on the table: can reposting an entire article ever be fair use?

    I don't think it can. But a federal judge in Nevada, probably in his understandable eagerness to make Righthaven go away, issued a ruling that leaves the door open for infringing bloggers to argue that posting entire articles can be fair use or at least so harmless as to be non-actionable.

    No matter how distasteful we find a company like Righthaven, that distaste should not be allowed to gut the body of intellectual property law upon which our global economy -- moving steadily away from production of goods -- depends. Republishing an entire article should be an absolute no no. I hope Righthaven gets the opportunity to appeal on that issue.

    Outlets like Ars Technica and Wired have nothing but contempt for Righthaven. I'm interested to see how they react when bloggers reprint entire articles from their websites.
    jackbond
    • Better watch out

      Steven Shaw might sue you for re-posting his article here.

      And under your own name, no less!

      lol...
      CaviarBlack