Copyright nation

Although I support copyrights in theory, we seem to have gone off the deep end with them in today’s world. Apparently about sixty websites owned by various newspapers and professional blogs have sent a law office called Righthaven, LLC to sue any blogger who takes snippets from their articles and re-posts them, even if the blogger provides attribution with a link to the original material.

Another copyright troll is looking to sue you for the offense of quoting from and linking to their websites. . . . Righthaven, LLC is suing bloggers who are clearly using material within the bounds of Fair Use.  It’s a bullying tactic – sue for a huge amount, and settle for a few thousand, because that’s cheaper than going to court even if you win. 

And lest you think, Well, Drew, perhaps they are being obnoxious about asserting their right, but they still have the right to assert, I am not sure that they do have such a right. Specifically, although I unfortunately never got to take a class in copyright law, as far as I understand it you are generally supposed to nicely ask the offenders to take down your material before you sue them. Apparently, some of the defendants are at least making that argument (among others) and giving Righthaven a run for its money.

The defense attorneys and some defendants without attorneys are making complex legal arguments about whether the Nevada court has jurisdiction over the out-of-state defendants, whether Righthaven itself has standing to sue and whether Righthaven failed to follow the law in filing no-warning lawsuits rather than first sending requests or takedown orders to the infringing websites.

Jackasses in glass houses shouldn’t be throwing stones. Bullying tactics deserve bullying penalties. I think some Rule 11 sanctions against that prosecuting attorney may be in order.

At least one of the lawsuits is about a website that posted four paragraphs (out of an article with thirty-four paragraphs). I have written previously about some idiot who sued over a chord progression, and you actually hear about “artists” making these mockable arguments fairly frequently these days. More recently, some of my friends on Facebook were discussing a proposed law that would prohibit people from “stealing” dress designs (The topic came up because evidently some producers had chosen to mimic Chelsea Clinton’s wedding dress). You can’t steal an idea; you can only commit fraud in pretending that the idea is in fact yours, or you can undermine the system we have established for incentivizing creativity — but neither of those is the same as stealing. I even get annoyed when I hear Mark Levin whine on the radio about how lesser talkshow hosts copy his ideas after he broadcasts them; I just think to myself, You should get over yourself and be happy that you are so influential!

But anyway, garbage like I have described above is what causes the nuttier posters at Mises.org to argue for abolishing copyrights. I don’t agree with them that we should abolish copyrights, but something probably does need to be done about the matter — particularly with our attitudes. I understand that we need to offer incentives to producers, but this idea that we are all out producing truly original brilliant thoughts is itself a bit narcissistic, and the idea that we need the government to stop anyone else from benefiting from our thought processes is absurd.

One commenter (“minamitek”) on a separate article summed up my thoughts about the matter fairly adequately:

Remember the good old days when capitalism was all about making stuff and selling it to buyers, instead of just using protectionist laws to sue non-buyers?
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1 Response to “Copyright nation”


  1. 1 Foxfier September 1, 2010 at 12:36 am

    “Fair use” usually covers quoting with a link.

    They get by, even though they violate the law, because it’s less expensive to give the Danegeld than to fight.


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