Law Firm Finds Success Targeting Those Who Post Copyrighted Images

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Before you use that copyrighted image on your blog you might want to think twice: It could cost you up to $150,000. Still, if you’re willing to take the risk because you think you won’t get caught since a lot of people are doing the same thing, one law firms is on to you. They know how the troll the web and are using the power of viral material – and lawsuits – to make bank.

Righthaven might not be a household name, but their tactic is simple: Buy out the copyrights for viral content and then sue bloggers and other people who violate copyright by reposting those images. The law firm Google-searches for anyone who may have posted the images and goes after those who violated the rules for the maximum $150,000 and ownership of the site’s domain. Most individuals just want the case to end so they chose to settle, which is where the law firm cashes in. They netted about $1,500 to $3,500 each case just by settling with bloggers and other media companies and had 80-plus cases with their first client Las Vegas Review-Journal, reports Wired. Last year, they made at least $308,000 from this method, according to Technology Review.

“We believe it’s the best solution out there,” Gibson said to Wired. “Media companies’ assets are very much their copyrights. These companies need to understand and appreciate that those assets have value more than merely the present advertising revenues.”

The Las Vegas-based law firm has another big lawsuit in the works. You may remember seeing the infamous picture of a man being excessively groped during a TSA pat down that originally ran in the Denver Post. (We’re not risking the charges by reposting the picture, but you can see the original image here.) The picture of the TSA officer who is really working hard at his job went viral, Righthaven bought the rights and is suing everyone who posted the picture. This includes people who posted comments on message boards, something that hasn’t been done before according to Technology Review. Chances are, although some posters could win their case, those being sued will just try to settle to avoid all litigation, which is what Righthaven is hoping.

Though they are doing nothing legally wrong, many who are being sued are complaining that the law firm is playing dirty by taking advantage of copyright laws. However, Righthaven employees insist that they are just following the law – and doing a great job at it.

More on TIME.com:

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Court Rules Free Internet Porn Okay

U.S. Government Cracking Down on Sports Sites’ Livestreaming Ahead Of Super Bowl

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