© Electronic Frontier Foundation
A federal judge ruled Monday that publishing an entire article without the rights holder's authorization was a fair use of the work, in yet another blow to newspaper copyright troll Righthaven.
It's not often that republishing an entire work without permission is deemed fair use. Fair use is an infringement defense when the defendant reproduced a copyrighted work for purposes such as criticism, commentary, teaching and research. The defense is analyzed on a case-by-case basis.
Monday's ruling dismissed a lawsuit brought by Righthaven, a Las Vegas-based copyright litigation factory jointly owned with newspaper publisher Stephens Media. The venture's litigation tactics and ethics are being questioned by several judges and attorneys, a factor that also weighed in on U.S. District Judge Philip Pro's decision Monday.
Righthaven has sued more than 200 websites, bloggers and commenters for copyright infringement. More than 100 have settled out of court.
The lawsuit decided Monday targeted Wayne Hoehn, a Vietnam veteran who posted all 19 paragraphs of November editorial from the Las Vegas Review-Journal
, which is owned by Stephens Media. Hoehn posted the article, and its headline, "Public Employee Pensions: We Can't Afford Them" on medjacksports.com to prompt discussion about the financial affairs of the nation's states. Hoehn was a user of the site, not an employee.
Righthaven sought up to $150,000, the maximum in damages allowed under the Copyright Act. Righthaven argued that the November posting reduced the number of eyeballs that would have visited the Review-Journal
site to read the editorial.