Steve Gibson [pictured right] has a plan to save the media world’s financial crisis — and it’s not the iPad.So newspapers partner with Righthaven to strongarm bloggers who use their content by filing lawsuits that carry stiff financial penalties.
Borrowing a page from patent trolls, the CEO of fledgling Las Vegas-based Righthaven has begun buying out the copyrights to newspaper content for the sole purpose of suing blogs and websites that re-post those articles without permission. And he says he’s making money.
“We believe it’s the best solution out there,” Gibson says. “Media companies’ assets are very much their copyrights. These companies need to understand and appreciate that those assets have value more than merely the present advertising revenues.”
Gibson’s vision is to monetize news content on the backend, by scouring the internet for infringing copies of his client’s articles, then suing and relying on the harsh penalties in the Copyright Act — up to $150,000 for a single infringement — to compel quick settlements. Since Righthaven’s formation in March, the company has filed at least 80 federal lawsuits against website operators and individual bloggers who’ve re-posted articles from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, his first client.
And it's working.
One defendant who is ready to settle is Fred Bouzek, a Virginia man who runs bikernews.net, a user-generated site about hardcore biker news. He was sued last week on allegations the site ran a Las Vegas Review-Journal story about police going under cover with the Hell’s Angels.Which gives Steve-O a lot of confidence behind his pink ties.
Even if he had grounds to fight the case, he says it would be cheaper to settle. “The only choice I have is to try to raise money and offer a settlement,” he says.
Gibson says he’s just getting started. Righthaven has other media clients that he won’t name until the lawsuits start rolling out, he says.
“Frankly, I think we’re having tremendous success at a number of levels,” Gibson says. “We file new complaints every day.”
-thanks to Al Crespo for the tip