by Max Brantley
Stephens Media, the company owned by the Little Rock-based Stephens financial empire and whose properties include several Arkansas newspapers, is looking like a loser in its venture to make money off suing people for infringement of newspaper copyrights. Court setbacks have put at least a temporary stop to lawsuits, Wired reports. The company once saw millions, maybe billions, in "unlocking" value from newspaper stories picked up by bloggers and others. Early suits targeted many non-commercial outlets, but legal pushback has thrown a monkeywrench into the business model.
Righthaven’s chief executive, Steve Gibson, confirmed in a telephone interview that his company has stopped filing new lawsuits, pending appellate rulings that could take months or even years to matriculate through the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
“It certainly seems to be prudent to see how all of these cases come out in the wash,” Gibson said, adding that he still reserves the right to file new lawsuits at any time.
Taken together, the setbacks suggest the business model employed by Righthaven has imploded on nearly every front — making it difficult to envision Righthaven copycats or a solid Righthaven future.