Autistic Blogger Sued For Copying Photo From Website - WGHP

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Staff Writer 9:51 a.m. EST, February 23, 2011 MAYODAN, N.C. (WGHP)— A mildly autistic man from North Carolina is being sued for $150,000 because he used a newspaper photo he took off the Internet and posted it on his blog. Brian Hill, who runs the opinion blog uswgo.com, said he was being sued by Las Vegas-based law firm Righthaven, LLC, after he used a picture of a TSA patdown that was copyrighted by The Denver Post. Hill, who has shut down the site because of the suit, said he did not know the photo was copyright protected. Righthaven has filed 32 lawsuits in total over the photo in question. Simone Rose, Wake Forest law professor, said Righthaven finds people posting copyrighted pictures without permission and then sue. As the defendants are often unable to afford a court battle, they tend to take a settlement. "It's sort of like legal robbery where they find loopholes," Hill said. Righthaven acquires copyrights to online content from MediaNews Group Inc., parent company of The Denver Post, then files suits over alleged violations of copyright law. With dozens of other publications, MediaNews is the nation's second-largest newspaper publisher. Righthaven has been criticized by some for suing first, rather than asking bloggers or operators of websites to remove copyrighted content.

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Righthaven offered Hill a $6,000 settlement, but he declined, saying he wants to fight the suit and let the courts decide if the photo usage really harms newspapers. "They claim they are just trying to save the industry and help them add value to their operation," Rose said. Rose said the suit has standing, but only because the current copyright laws, specifically the 1976 Copyright Act, do not specify what is legal under Fair Use. "Is it fair, probably not in the universe of Fair Use, because preventing the average person from bringing the Fair Use defense is actually giving the copyright owners more than what was intended under statute. What we need is modification of statute that allows an ordinary person to look at material and say, 'I can definitely do this,'" Rose said. Attempts to seek comment from Righthaven were not returned. However, in a recent interview with The Associated Press, Righthaven CEO Steve Gibson said people wrongfully assume that everything on the Internet is fair use. "I think over the past 15 years, it has been made fairly clear that you're not going to get a reduction in the level of infringements and the respect of the infringement community just by asking them to take it down," Gibson told the Associated Press.

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Add / View comments | Discussion FAQ RobertaRuthHill at 6:49 PM March 01, 2011 Reform the copyright laws. Sign this petition!

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http://www.thepetitionsite.com/3/reformthe-copyright-laws/ aasdasdkj at 1:06 PM February 24, 2011

The author of this story made himself or herself sound extremely ignorant.

I can't get passed the title of the story to even read it. If you notice the title distastefully says AUTISTIC Blogger.... Who cares that he has autism. That’s not WHO he is it's something he has deal with.... I am a Special Ed. teacher and I find this VERY offensive... if this kid can get sued for something that silly you should be sued for your inconsiderate headlines.

If he were OCD you wouldn't put OCD BLOGGER blah blah blah or SMOKING BLOGGER I mean come on now really???

So hey FOX 8 how bout next time let's try not being so rude and actually focus on the REAL story.

StellaBurnette at 1:08 PM February 23, 2011 Brian is my grandson, and I am very proud of him. His site (www.uswgo.com) was so professional looking that Righthaven decided to sue him too. This is not your normal copyright law suit. Learn about Righthaven. They are trying to take away our freedom of speech on the Internet using legal extortion. People with real talent who have enough money will try to get a copyright on their work. We respect copyright and copyright laws. In this case, a newspaper is asking everyone to share their photos and print them. After this photo is everywhere on the Internet, then Righthaven gets a copyright on what should be of interest to all USA citizens and even citizens from other countries (especially people who fly on planes). They see this photo on your website or blog THEN they get a copyright on this photo or news article (not their work). They don't tell you or warn you, they simply sue you in court, file the court papers on you for $150,000, then they try to settle with you for $6,000 and your domain (your website). They are cold and evil people when you talk to them, they don't mind breaking laws dealing with SSI checks that disabled need every penny of that money to survive. Righthaven wanted to garnish Brian's SSI check at $50.00 per month

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until the $6,000 was paid to avoid going to court.
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