The Nevada federal district court issued a judgement last week as part of an initiative that will make it harder for copyright holders to file lawsuits over excerpts of their material being used on the web.
The judgement comes after a deluge of lawsuits filed by Righthaven— a copyright holding company that has been described by some as a “lawsuit factory”–and is specifically aimed at one lawsuit against Democratic Underground which claimed they infringed on the copyright in a Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper article when a user of the online political forum posted a five-sentence excerpt, even though the user also posted a link back to the newspaper’s website. The judgement states that any online forum will not be held responsible for posts made by users and that excerpts used in those posts are protected under the fair use act.
Righthaven has filed hundreds of copyright lawsuits and, despite having never won a case, continue to try to make money by falsely asserting that copyrights are being infringed upon.
Copyright suits have been an issue for quite a long time now, and in recent years the issue of what should and should not be covered under the laws has grown more blurred. Pinterest is one forum that has users concerned and has been in the news recently regarding photo copyrights. Part of the problem is that legal jargon makes it hard for the average person to understand where the lines are drawn, because everyone and their grandma has a blog or use social media sites these days and not many of them are legal savvy.
If you are worried about infringing on a copyright, a good way to cover yourself is to always link back to the source where you found the article or photo. It also helps to be organized and keep a good record of any content you post so that if it is questioned, there will be no gray areas.