Righthaven's dream of corporate enrichment via frivolous lawsuits is in tatters, and the company's erstwhile partners are abandoning ship. The new CEO of MediaNews Group, John Paton, announced this week that its partnership with Righthaven would expire at the end of the month and that the company has no plans to renew it.
“The issues about copyright are real,” Paton told Wired.com in a telephone interview. “But the idea that you would hire someone on an — essentially — success fee to run around and sue people at will who may or may not have infringed as a way of protecting yourself … does not reflect how news is created and disseminated in the modern world. I come from the idea that it was a dumb idea from the start."
The great irony of the situation is that some of the issues Righthaven raised genuinely had merit. Modern technology has created gray areas in copyright law and within the concept of fair use, particularly when considering issues of plagiarism, appropriate attribution, and content linking. Instead of attempting to litigate high profile, clear-cut cases where harm might actually have occurred, Righthaven chased every two-bit blogger and online publication it could find and filed dozens of lawsuits in an attempt to overwhelm defendants with a mountain of intimidating paperwork.