'Denver Post' Parent Ends Deal With Righthaven

Copyright enforcer Righthaven was hit with another blow this week -- and this one looks like it could prove even more devastating than its recent courtroom losses: MediaNews Group, parent company of the Denver Post, will let its contract with Righthaven lapse at the end of the month.

The new CEO of MediaNews, John Paton, announced the move on Twitter Wednesday, at around the same time as the Denver Post reported the development.

Paton has long been on record as critical of Righthaven. As far back as last year, when CEO of Journal Register, he reportedly tweeted, "Such a bad idea for newspapers. I'm speechless," according to

Sara Glines, vice president for field operations at MediaNews Group, says the decision was made several weeks ago. "In looking at how this was working out, it was not fulfilling what we hoped it would," she tells MediaPost. "We feel very strongly about protecting copyright, and we hoped that this was going to be a viable way to protect copyright."

It's fair to say that the partnership also didn't do much for the Denver Post's image. In one well-publicized case, Righthaven sued an autistic 20-year-old blogger with serious health issues for allegedly reposting material from the Denver Post. That lawsuit sparked a rebuke by Reporters Without Borders. In another case, Righthaven sued an Ars Technica freelancer who allegedly used an image from a court filing to illustrate a story about a lawsuit regarding a Denver Post graphic; Righthaven withdrew that case within days.

Since launching 18 months ago, Righthaven has filed around 275 copyright infringement lawsuits against bloggers and other small publishers who allegedly reposted material originally published by MediaNews or Stephens Media, which owns the Las Vegas Review-Journal. At least 30 lawsuits alleging infringement of material from the Denver Post are still pending before U.S. District Court Judge John Kane in Colorado.

Even though the Denver Post parent will no longer work with Righthaven, the fate of the cases that are pending is out of MediaNews' hands, Glines says. "They were filed by Righthaven, so Righthaven has to either pursue litigation or not pursue litigation," she says. "The way our agreement works, once it's within the court system, they have control."

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