EFF wants Righthaven to pay for its own ass-kicking

When the odious copyright trolls at Righthaven (a company that buys the right to demand legal settlement money from bloggers who quote newspapers from the papers themselves) sued Democratic Underground, the Electronic Frontier Foundation came to the rescue. They kicked Righthaven's ass. Now EFF is asking a judge to award them legal costs in Democratic Underground's defense.

If the judge finds in their favor, it could put Righthaven out of business: after all, the copyright troll business-model is to skimp on legal analysis, threaten to sue people, and offer "settlements" that are cheaper than paying for a legal defense. But if the judge in the Democratic Underground case finds for EFF, then defending oneself against copyright trolls will come for free: contingency lawyers will spring up all over the country, knowing that they can beat back the groundless Righthaven claims and pocket hefty fees for their trouble. The more threatening letters Righthaven sends out, the more it will cost them -- that is, unless Righthaven restricts itself to bringing claims that have merit, but this is more restraint than any copyright troll to date has managed to show.

The case centers on an EFF client, the political community site Democratic Underground. Righthaven sued the site months ago after a user posted four paragraphs from a 34-paragraph Las Vegas Review-Journal story in May on Sharron Angle, the unsuccessful Republican Nevada candidate for Senate.

After suffering a defeat in a lawsuit with a similar amount of infringement, Righthaven moved to dismiss the Democratic Underground case last month. Righthaven, which has been taking advantage of a loophole in copyright law to win settlements in dozens of cases, has told a Nevada federal judge it could still win the case, so it should not have to pay the EFF's legal tab.

But the EFF, which has countersued Righthaven, said in a legal filing late Tuesday that Righthaven must pay for Democratic Underground's defense.

EFF Demands Copyright Troll Pay for Suing Democratic Underground


  1. I hope this works. When the EFF defended me, I wish that I would have had some way to go back to ABC/Disney and make them pay for their bogus threat that I was infringing on the copyright of the K S F O radio hosts. I had very clearly (with the help of the EFF) set up my use as classic fair use. But at the time there was nothing that we could do to make them pay for their bullying because the C&D letter that ABC sent to the web host 1&1 hosting was baseless saber rattling, nonetheless 1&1 caved.

    Later I advised a group called HateHurtsAmerica on the same techniques I used to convince 18 advertisers to pull their ads from the Michael Savage show. This cost 1 million dollars in lost revenue by Savage’s own admission. Savage sued one of the founding members of the group, CAIR. The EFF defended them. Savage lost. My lawyer from EFF was also trying to get Savage to pay for court cost for bring the bogus case to court. I don’t know if they won.

    One thing that I have been paying attention to in the WikiLeaks case is how the US government have been pressuring corporations to shut off support methods (hosting, payment, DNS) using the Terms of Service and Acceptable Use policies. These are the same policies that ABC/Disney used on me to get my blog shut down.

    Like Wikileaks, we were able to replicate the clips around the world. My experience has taught me to read TOS and AUPs. If you are going to challenge the government or corporations you would be wise to read those. And if you donate money to one of the finest Non-profits in the country who is doing some great work, consider donating to the EFF.

  2. In law school I was sure that Rule 11(b) should be the savior of our legal system. After all, it requires not only honesty in legal filings, but due diligence of investigation and research to support factual and legal positions put forward.

    Experience soon convinced me that the legal community would never take such a standard seriously.


  3. I’ve never really understood why “loser pays all” isn’t the default in the legal system.

    I know that it’s not always cut and dry, but it’s so rare in the states to have the loser pay that I’ve heard this type of thing referred to as “English Law.”

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