By J. DeVoy
The May 2012 ABA Journal’s cover story is the aftermath of Righthaven. Eriq Gardner, who Righthaven once sued for posting an image of an exhibit from one of its court pleadings, examined both sides of the copyright enforcement equation. Marc Randazza and Ron Coleman are quoted in the lengthy piece, which centers on Righthaven but touches on the RIAA’s litigation campaign, the mass-joinder suits brought by porn studios, and the realities of plaintiff-side copyright enforcement.
Righthaven’s CEO, Steven Gibson, is quoted with the following observation:
“One of the questions for the article is why is it so difficult for copyright owners to hire competent copyright litigation counsel?” he said. “There’s not a lot across the country. Definitely not like personal injury lawyers. You can’t go into the phone book and find a listing. Why is it this difficult? Why isn’t there more copyright litigation?”
Yet, even with Righthaven.com no longer belonging to Nevada’s Righthaven LLC, he is optimistic about the venture’s future.
“Righthaven remains the vehicle for dealing with infringements on the Internet,” Gibson told me recently.
A motion by the EFF seeking personal sanctions against Gibson at a rate of $500 per day is still pending as of this writing.
The problems of online copyright infringement and enforcement are real, and few would argue that there is not some useful role of copyright in society. These controls, however, cannot and should not completely gobble up protected speech – especially since the 1976 Copyright Act codified fair use in 17 U.S.C. § 107. Even allowing breathing space for hilarious derivative works, much work needs to be done with respect to fighting infringement, even as the law for doing so remains in flux.