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Righthaven: Denver Post reports about controversy without mentioning Brian Hill

Thumbnail image for brian hills photo cropped.JPG
Brian Hill.
Last November, we failed to get MediaNews Group executive Sara Glines to comment on a copyright protection warning printed by the Denver Post -- and did so again after controversy flared over the Post's partnership with lawsuit machine Righthaven LLC and its targeting of chronically ill, mildly autistic hobby blogger Brian Hill earlier this year. But now we don't feel so bad -- because she apparently won't talk to the Post, either.

Nearly lost in the hoopla over the Post's coverage of the Michael Hancock prostitution-link story was a belated in-print acknowledgment of the paper's Righthaven connection. But the piece, "Copyright litigator working for Denver Post takes criticism for its tactics," offers a weak, startlingly incomplete look at the company and its approach, as well as its association with the Post.

How's the setup work? The Post assigns the copyright of items already used without authorization by bloggers and so forth to Nevada-based Righthaven, whose attorneys file lawsuits against the alleged scofflaws -- and then offer to drop litigation in exchange for a hefty cash payment, among other demands. That's the technique used on Hill, who can't work due to what he describes as "a brittle case of Type 1 diabetes" that requires his mother to monitor his sleep each night to make sure he doesn't die. Righthaven reps suggested taking chunks of the disability payments Hill and his mom count on to survive before dropping the case amid some epically bad publicity.

As for the Post's article, it manages to omit any mention of Hill while including a quote from his attorney, David Kerr, and quoting from a ruling by Judge John Kane that chastised Righthaven's actions in the case. Neat trick. Even more hilarious, reporter John Ingold notes that Glines declined to speak for the Post item, forcing him to reference the one quote she's provided thus far -- for a May 2 New York Times offering that used Hill as its centerpiece. In an e-mail, Glines wrote, ""We have invested heavily in creating quality content in our markets. To allow others who have not shared in that investment to reap the benefit ultimately hurts our ability to continue to fund that investment at the same level."

Of course, there are many other ways to enforce copyright other than the Righthaven method -- and the Post and the Las Vegas Review-Journal are the only major daily newspapers we know of to have signed up with the firm. But this area of inquiry is absent from the Post article, as is plenty of other pertinent information -- like, for instance, reference to a letter sent to Post publisher and MediaNews Group head honcho Dean Singleton by Reporters Without Borders, which likened Righthaven's targeting of Hill to the sort of free-speech squelching practiced by authoritarian regimes.

Yes, the Post has finally broken its silence on Righthaven -- but it did so in a manner that's journalistically embarrassing. Which seems somehow appropriate.

More from our Media archive: "Matt Drudge latest target of a Denver Post-related copyright infringement lawsuit."


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7 comments
Anita
Anita

Looks like the Denver Post is getting the recognition they so deserve.  Hard to believe that this newspaper along with the Righthaven group are torturing the poor, the sick and those who are sharing their information with others.  People are doing just what this newspaper is asking them to do, to share with everyone, then they turn around and sue their readers who share, calling them "thieves".  It's obvious that they are, in fact, attacking freedom of speech.   When a reporter (like this paper) reports the news, they are being criticized by (it's very obvious) employees of this newspaper (Denver Post and or Righthaven employees).  They continue to victimize their victims, victims' family and friends, reporters who report the truth, attorneys who handle their victims' cases and the federal judges who are trying to uphold the laws of this great land.  Nice to know that there is now another law suit, this time aimed at Righthaven and all involved with these lawsuits (in South Carolina).  So nice to also know that Reporters without Borders got involved in the "freedom of speech" issue as well.  Thank you for reporting the news and keeping us all informed about all of this.

Marks
Marks

"Journalistically embarssing"?

Why does Michael Roberts have such a hard on for an issue that affects no one but people who depend on using other people's copyrighted material to earn a living? Which affects, what, maybe 10 people or less in this whole city engaged in a dubious action? Because Michael is one of those 10 people. Michael doesn't do journalism. He copies and pastes journalism. This whole blog is nothing but stories he read or heard in other media. Seriously, take a good look. He does no reporting himself, probably hasn't been to courthouse or a press conference or a crime scene in years.That is why Michael Roberts is obsessed with this story. If the ability to take news for free (that other company's paid real journalists to report) goes away, Michael will have to actually get up for his desk and go out and do the work himself. Horrors!And that, to copy and paste Michael's work, would be "journalistically embarrassing."By the way, Michael, "journalistically" isn't a word. Stick to copying and pasting.

Robert
Robert

Anyone who has read more than a very few stories in the Post could hardly find this one about Media News Group taking flak "startlingly incomplete"; I wouold say that most articles the Post publishes are frustratingly incomplete.  In this instance, the Post's self-interest is readily apparent and one need not speculate as to its incompetence.  The Post's status as a corporate propaganda mill is well-established -- if only Denver had a daily newspaper!

Jeffrey
Jeffrey

With zero competition, the Post has become such a laughingstock, from this story to the out-and-out whining in Saturday's paper over not seeing the Hancock cell phone records. And to think, people actually claimed having just the Post around would make it a "better" newspaper with the Rocky Mountain News out of the way. The last few days is showing we'd be better off with no newspaper in this cow town.

Linda
Linda

They've got quite a lot to be embarrassed for these days. Like cutting a deal with Hancock to not report on the prostitution link before the election in exchange for getting a first look at his cellphone records. Like not mentioning once in the article cited here the Post's connection with an organization that blackmails people, for lack of a better word, into cash settlements over supposed copyright infringement.

And the DP wonders why it is increasingly considered irrelevant...

Joe
Joe

If only Robert, Linda and Jeffrey had a brain...

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