Righthaven fails, online community rejoices

The Electronic Frontier Foundation passes on news from Nevada that will ripple throughout the land:

(T)he federal district court in Nevada issued a declaratory judgment that makes is harder for copyright holders to file lawsuits over excerpts of material and burden online forums and their users with nuisance lawsuits.

The judgment – part of the nuisance lawsuit avalanche started by copyright troll Righthaven – found that Democratic Underground did not infringe the copyright in a Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper article when a user of the online political forum posted a five-sentence excerpt, with a link back to the newspaper’s website.

Judge Roger Hunt’s judgment confirms that an online forum is not liable for its users’ posts, even if it was not protected by the safe harbors of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s notice and takedown provisions. The decision also clarifies that a common practice on the Internet – excerpting a few sentences and linking to interesting articles elsewhere – is a fair use, not an infringement of copyright.

The EFF piece gets a bit windy and partisan, but it is worth a read for legal eagles.

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