MediaNews’ New CEO Drops Copyright Trolls Righthaven

Dropped like a hot potato.

One of the first things John Paton has done since becoming CEO of Digital First, a new company that oversees newspaper companies MediaNews Group and Journal Register Company, is fire Righthaven.

Righthaven was formed last year to sue bloggers and others who infringed upon newspapers’ copyright. The deal was that newspapers, including those owned by MediaNews Group, would sell their copyrights to articles to Righthaven, which would then sue the pants off anyone.

Righthaven was later found to not actually be buying real copyrights, which would have included, say, the right to copy articles. Instead, the company was only purchasing the right to sue, and then transferring all rights back to the company.

Righthaven has not filed any lawsuits in two months, Wired reports. And now, John Paton has said signing up with Righthaven was “a dumb idea” and has ended Media News Group’s relationship with the company.

“The issues about copyright are real,” Paton told in a telephone interview. “But the idea that you would hire someone on an — essentially — success fee to run around and sue people at will who may or may not have infringed as a way of protecting yourself … does not reflect how news is created and disseminated in the modern world.”

Righthaven still retains its first client, Stephens Media, which owns the Las Vegas Review-Journal. But again, no new lawsuits in two months, and the judge who has presided over most of the Stephens Media cases, Judge Hunt, has not been sympathetic to Righthaven’s arguments thus far.