About a year ago MediaNews Group, publisher of 40 newspapers, signed a deal with Righthaven, a law firm. The deal allowed Righthaven to file copyright infringement lawsuits on MediaNews Group’s behalf in exchange for 50% of any settlement/verdict. Now, MediaNews Group has decided to part ways with Righthaven and John Paton, the chief executive of MediaNews Group, is quoted in Wired as saying:
“The issues about copyright are real … 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.” (emphasis added)
The idea that one could monetize news content (or any other content) by restricting its circulation and suing individual bloggers was always a dubious one. The RIAA and many other organizations that took this approach previously now appear to be abandoning it. And, as the Wired article also notes, Righthaven has lost a string of its lawsuits over the question of whether it even has the right to sue over copyright infringement when they are not the actual copyright holder.