When will Post report on 30 copyright lawsuits filed in CO?

The Denver Post is missing one of the biggest media stories in Colorado. That is, its own apparent effort, through a Las Vegas law firm called Righthaven, to protect the copyright of Post and other newspaper articles and other online content.

Righthaven has now apparently filed 30 lawsuits in federal court in Colorado, including one yesterday. Righthavenlawsuits.com, which tracks Righthaven’s activities and news coverage, reports that “numerous” lawsuits have been filed over Denver Post material, but it’s not clear how many of the 30 cases in Colorado court touch on The Denver Post. Westword reported yesterday that Rocky Mountain Right has shut down its website for fear of being sued by Righthaven.

Righthaven buys the rights to Post articles and sues entities that use them online in alleged violation of federal copyright law. Righthaven typically sues for $150,000 plus the rights to the alleged offender’s domain name. Most of the firm’s approximately 235 lawsuits have been filed over alleged copyright violation of Las Vegas Review Journal content.

I’ve written before that MediaNews, The Post’s parent company, is right to try to stop bloggers and others from helping themselves to The Post’s online content, beyond what The Post authorizes in its fair-use guidelines. Righthaven’s approach is ugly, and I’d alter it if I were in charge, but I’m a reluctant supporter because stealing newspaper articles robs The Post of online ad revenue it needs to survive now, and will need even more in the future (if the newspaper doesn’t die).

And if The Post and other big-city dailies go under or continue to shrink, taking a huge chunk of the country’s serious journalism down with them, our democracy, imperfect as it already is, will pay the price.

But what’s baffled me, as I wrote here, is why The Post doesn’t report on the Righthaven copyright lawsuits. I understand that businesses hate to talk about topics even remotely related to litigation, but you’d think The Post would have the guts to figure out a way to do this, if only to warn members of our community who might get sued out-of-the-blue for violating copyright law that they didn’t know they were breaking.

As I see it, along with filing lawsuits, The Post should be educating the public about The Post’s fair use policy, and why it’s important to honor it. Running one little notice in the newspaper is obviously way inadequate. And by remaining silent on the Righthaven cases, especially as they propagate, The Post isn’t helping its own cause very much.

And it’s missing its journalistic responsibility to report on major media stories.

Last Month, I queried Post Editor Greg Moore about the Righthaven lawsuits.

I wrote Moore:

“I would think that part of the goal with the lawsuits is to educate bloggers and others about fair-use policy. A lot of people need educating about why it’s so important for newspapers to protect their content. It’s as important as any issue in journalism. Yet, I’ve seen no news about Righthaven in The Post, even though there’s a local hook. Why?”

Moore replied:

“As to Righthaven, there’s nothing to report. They are suing on our behalf those who infringe on our copyright. This is not about educating bloggers or anyone else. It is to restrain them from appropriating our content. We have been clear that we will protect our content and if anyone is unclear about why that’s important, there is probably nothing else the institution can say.”

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