Judge to copyright troll: your lawsuits are shams, give it up

Hugh from the Electronic Frontier Foundation sez ,"In a decision with likely wide-ranging impact, a judge in Las Vegas today dismissed as a sham an infringement case filed by copyright troll Righthaven LLC. The judge ruled that Righthaven did not have the legal authorization to bring a copyright lawsuit against the political forum Democratic Underground, because it had never owned the copyright in the first place. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Fenwick & West LLP, and Las Vegas attorney Chad Bowers are defending Democratic Underground."
"In dismissing Righthaven's claim in its entirety, Chief Judge Hunt's ruling decisively rejected the Righthaven business model of conveying rights to sue, alone, as a means to enforce copyrights," said Laurence Pulgram, head of copyright litigation at Fenwick & West in San Francisco. "The ruling speaks for itself. The court rejected Righthaven's claim that it owned sufficient rights in the copyright, stating that claim was 'flagrantly false--to the point that the claim is disingenuous if not outright deceitful.'"

Judge Hunt also noted that "Righthaven has made multiple inaccurate and likely dishonest statements to the Court" and rejected Righthaven's efforts to fix things after the fact with a May 9, 2011, amendment to the original assignment agreement. The judge expressed "doubt that these seemingly cosmetic adjustments change the nature and practical effect" of the invalid assignment.

As part of his ruling today, the judge ordered Righthaven to show why it should not be sanctioned for misrepresentations to the court. The Court permitted Democratic Underground's counterclaim to continue against Stephens Media -- the publisher of the Review Journal -- allowing Democratic Underground to show that it did nothing wrong in allowing a user to post a five-sentence excerpt of a 50-sentence article.

Righthaven is the copyright bounty-hunter spun out of a Las Vegas newspaper whose business-model was to threaten bloggers and online publishers who made brief quotations with copyright lawsuits and collect settlement fees from people who were scared of spending a lot of money in court.

Righthaven Copyright Troll Lawsuit Dismissed as Sham



    1. No. That’s the thing about settling. It’s settle, regardless of future outcome. Those that settled could try to sue saying they got shook down… but its usually in the settling contract language that both parties agree it’s not a shake down.

      1. Anon, normally I’d agree but if they’re caught out for deliberate misrepresentation of their copyright ownership status, then the settlements may become fraudulent transactions. That cannot be nullified by a contract, since the contract itself would become void in such circumstances.

        Here’s an example of how a legal settlement would be nullified in an analogous situation: http://www.ehow.com/list_6826494_justifiable-nullify-accident-settlement-agreement.html

  1. It’s been 10 years and I’m still waiting for the Electronic Frontier Foundation take a position with which I disagree.

    Huzzah, EFF!


      1. Could be that a decade is the length of time he’s followed them.
        About the same for me, FWIW.

  2. I’ve been following EFF (and FSF – Richard Stallman – before them) since they started and have yet to disagree. Stallman tends to jump off the pier occasionally, but he’s been basically right.

    Gatting back to the main point, IMHO the past victims of RIghthaven, those who have been conned into settling, are due total refunds, plus any legal fees. If I’m not mistaken, they also, collectively, have a civil class-action case against Righthaven and Stephens, jointly. In addition, I believe there is a substantial fraud and criminal conspiracy case against Righthaven and Stephens Media.

  3. Can I care retroactively? Cuz there’s lots a crap that went down before I got here that concerns me.

  4. None of this can hold a candle to what it felt like to start caring 125 years ago…

  5. It seems like this would have been covered under common law prohibitions against barratry (harassing litigation) and champerty (3rd parties involved in litigation). Too bad we’ve mostly done away with those protections in our enlightened age.

    Champerty was considered contrary to the public good because 3rd parties did not have a legitimate interest in the suit. That is, they might have bought into the lawsuit by, for example, buying up debts or copyright claims, but they hadn’t really suffered any damages. When debts can be transferred for a few cents on the dollar, people could (and did) buy up all of an enemy’s outstanding debts, then demand immediate payment in full. Also, nickel and dime suits that wouldn’t have been worthwhile for the original plaintiff are brought by these 3rd party trolls. That’s inimical to the public interest because defendants are disproportionately damaged while the original plaintiffs are not made whole, either.


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