FTC Trial Hindenburg:  Tax ISP Access to Save Newspapers

In one of the greatest examples of a lead trial balloon in recent memory, an FTC staff report raised the possibility of imposing taxes to subsidize the newspaper industry.  Bennet Kelley and veteran journalist Len Lazarick (who recently was the Annapolis correspondent for the Baltimore Examiner —  one of the more than 100 major daily’s that closed in the last two years) discussed the FTC proposal on InBoxed.  The proposal, when viewed in connection with the FTC’s blogger guidelines, demonstrate a bias in favor of print journalism, when their focus should be on the availability of content to consumers and not the channel by which it is delivered.   InBoxed Podcast

After a barrage of criticism and polling show strong disapproval of the idea, the Commission first responded by noting that the “FTC has not endorsed the idea of making any policy recommendation or recommended any of the proposals in the discussion draft,” while over the weekend Chairman Leibowitz acknowledged that it was a “terrible” idea.

More info: FTC Backs Down Over Newspaper Sustainability Proposals, Nukezilla.

Update:  Stevens Media/Righthaven Copyright Lawsuits

As reported previously, Stevens Media, which owns newspapers in 9 states including its flagship the Las Vegas Review-Journal, has assigned copyrights to some of its articles to a copyright enforcement company – Righthaven LLC – which has filed approximately 11 actions against bloggers and websites won its first “judgment” – a $2,185 consent judgment against the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Law (“NORML”) after NORML made an offer of judgment for that amount.  Stevens/Righthaven risked liability for all costs going forward should it reject the offer and get less at trial.     Stevens and Righthaven have drawn fire for  launching the suits without any prior warning or demand and for comparing the use of its content to grand theft.  According to Online Media Daily’s Wendy Davis,  who is also a lawyer, Stevens Media “grand theft” argument “isn’t only ludicrous, it’s an embarrassment to the newspaper.”  Davis adds that Stevens does not attempt to argue there is  (nor is there any evidence of) any harm stemming from the alleged infringement.

Stevens is not the only news organization taking a hard line on copyright with respect to news feeds, as Associated Press has been leading the charge in this area arguing that “original news content is being scraped, syndicated and monetized without fair compensation to those who produce, report and verify it.”

More info: Reposting News Stories Is Like Grand Theft Auto? Really?, Daily Online Examiner;  Who, really, is The Associated Press accusing of copyright infringement?, Neiman Journalism Lab