A photo company sued sports site Bleacher Report (s twx) this week for using photos of New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and a celebrity actress. It turns out the case is just the tip of a much larger campaign in which image owners are using a controversial legal tactic known as “copyright trolling” to pressure websites to pay up.
The term “copyright troll” is familiar to many thanks to Righthaven, an infamous band of lawyers who extracted large sums from bloggers who reproduced news clippings without permission. Federal judges became disgusted with Righthaven’s scorched earth approach and finally knee-capped it late last year.
Righthaven may be gone but its business model is still alive and well. Under this model, lawyers scour the web for copyright infringement and then take a cut from defendants who pay a settlement to avoid being sued. Unlike Righthaven, however, the new breed of copyright…
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