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Righthaven Q&A: C&D letters don't stop infringement

January 6, 2011: 12:39 PM ET

Steven Gibson, founder of Righthaven, spoke with Fortune for our story on his work in copyright lawsuits. Below, an edited excerpt of our interview with him.

Interview by John Patrick Pullen, contributor

Fortune: In the column from May 2010 where Review-Journal writer Sherman Frederick described new arrangements with Righthaven, he called it a technology firm. How is Righthaven a technology firm?

Gibson: Sherman Frederick does not speak for us, and we did not ghostwrite that column. I've never met him.

Righthaven deploys technology to ascertain infringements and reproductions. Righthaven is a company that is very forward looking in understanding that the economy of the next several decades will become further developed as an information-based economy, therefore the assets that will be be created will be protect by copyright.

"If you operate a website (liberal or otherwise) and don't know what "fair use" is in the context of American copyright and Constitutional law, then I suggest you talk to your copyright lawyer and find out." That's a quote from Frederick's column. But fair use is open to interpretation. Would it be fair to say that your lawsuits are actively refining that interpretation for the digital age?

That's a great question. Yes, I believe that theres no question that the fair use debate is a function of case law and on various facts that arise for court ajudication and jury consideration with respect for fair use. We are absolutely continuing to develop the law of copyright in the area in respect to fair use. There is very substantial guidance in the courts already that make it clear that the kinds of reproduction that Righthaven is addressing is not fair use.

Not surprisingly, you've met with a large amount of criticism on the Internet, but you are within your rights to protect your copyrights. Why haven't an equally vocal group of advocates spoken out on your behalf? More

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