Media News Group Says Righthaven Affiliation “Was a Dumb Idea”

It hasn’t been a good couple of months for Righthaven, the blog-suing organization that several newspapers and media organizations partnered with in order to sue blogs and other online outlets over copyright infringement. Righthaven has run into trouble in some recent cases, and a June ruling by a Nevada judge could all but drive them out of business if appeals are not successful.

Enter newly-appointed Media News Group CEO John Paton. From

The new chief executive of MediaNews Group, publisher of the Denver Post and 50 other newspapers, said it was “a dumb idea” for the nation’s second-largest newspaper chain to sign up with copyright troll Righthaven.

The Denver-based publisher’s year-long copyright infringement litigation deal with Righthaven is terminating at month’s end, said John Paton, who replaced Dean Singleton to lead the company on Wednesday.

“The issues about copyright are real,” Paton told in a telephone interview. “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,” Paton added, noting that Righthaven was informed of the decision to end relations last month.

On Wednesday, Wired reported that Las Vegas-based Righthaven, founded more than a year ago to monetize print news content through copyright infringement lawsuits, was struggling after several courtroom setbacks. Righthaven has not prevailed in court on any of the infringement lawsuits filed over MediaNews’ content, though it appears from court records that about two dozen cases had settled out of court.

Paton said if he was MediaNews’ chief a year ago, he likely never would have signed on with Righthaven, which hoped to fix the print media’s financial ills by suing bloggers and website owners for reposting snippets or entire copyrighted articles. Terms of the Righthaven-MediaNews deal grant each side a 50-percent stake in settlements and verdicts.

Righthaven was not involved in last summer’s dispute between this blog and Media News Group, Freedom Communications and Swift Communications, but we’re glad to see that Paton is not bullish on the idea of legal attacks on blogs and other online sites. As we said last year — which is playing out in court — the law in this regard is not really on the side of the publishers so long as entire articles are not being reprinted. We said before that the only thing these attacks were going to create was ill-will towards the publishers, and that’s pretty much what has happened here; a lot of bluster and noise with little to show for it.

So kudos to Paton for recognizing that associating with Righthaven doesn’t make any sense, legal or otherwise.  

6 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Aristotle says:

    This seems to be headed for an official end to the threat by MediaNews to sue Pols for copywrite infringement and fair use violations. In that case, will MediaNews outlets be safe for quoting and linking here again?

  2. allyncooper says:

    You don’t have to think too hard to answer that one. Maybe that’s why Paton is now the CEO of MediaNews Group instead of Singleton.

    The strategy to go after those who allegedly “steal” content was hatched because of the deteriorating financial condition of the print news industry, but was fatally flawed because that’s not the problem with the industry. The problem is print industry ad revenues that have fallen from $47 billion in 2005 to $23 billion in 2010.

    Paton seems to have a handle on what the problem is so perhaps MediaNews can make a go of it after all. Rather than pursuing a quixotic legal campaign to try to preserve that which is long gone, I think he knows the challange is to adapt to the new realities of the business and come up with constructive solutions in order to not only survive but to prosper.  

Leave a Reply

Comment from your Facebook account

You may comment with your Colorado Pols account above (click here to register), or via Facebook below.