Righthaven, the copyright troll that flamed out after a botched attempt to get rich by suing bloggers for quoting newspaper articles, has reached bottom. After having its domain seized and sold off to pay its legal bills, it is now faced with having to sell the copyrights to the aforesaid newspaper articles as well to offset more of its victims' expenses. David Kravets writes on Ars Technica:
U.S. District Judge Philip M. Pro of Nevada ordered Righthaven to surrender for auction the 278 copyrighted news articles that were the subject of its lawsuits.
"The copyright registrations to more than 275 works are in Righthaven’s name, can be transferred by this court, and can then be auctioned," the judge ruled. (.pdf)
The Righthaven.com domain was auctioned for $3,000 last year to help satisfy the legal bill the firm must pay to one of its defendants that prevailed in a copyright suit brought by Righthaven itself. The tab is more than $60,000 in the case before Judge Pro, and in total Righthaven owes about $200,000 to various defendants.
Judge orders failed copyright troll to forfeit "all" copyrights
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After snatching a notorious copyright troll's name at auction, a Swiss company is turning Righthaven.com into a web hosting service. The intended customers? Publishers worried about the kind of abusive legal threats spewed out by the domain's previous owner.
"The Swiss courts don't play games and registrars here cannot be scared," said Stefan Thalberg of Ort Cloud, an ISP based in Zürich. "Frivolous plaintiffs will find little comfort here."
With hosting in Switzerland and planned in Iceland, the new Righthaven promises "infrajuridsictional infrastructure" — in other words, uptime that would require international co-operation to bring down.
The announcement comes days after a fight over anti-piracy bills in Congress, described by opponents as a threat to free speech, culminated in websites shutting down in protest. Read the rest
Copyright troll Righthaven was conceived of as a way of extorting money from websites on behalf of newspaper owners when quotations from those newspapers were posted to the web. The idea was that the newspapers would assign "the right to sue" to Righthaven, which would pursue lawsuits on their behalf, and share the take. Righthaven's primary tactic was to shotgun legal threats to everyone they could find, regardless of whether their claims had merit, and then withdraw the threat when someone stood up to them -- classic copyright trolling.
Over the years that followed public interest groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation worked with Righthaven's victims and won a string of victories, in which Righthaven's ass was repeatedly handed to them (the death blow was probably when judges began to affirm that there is no licensable "right to sue" separate from other parts of copyright).
Now Righthaven is pretty much dead. They've lost control over their domain (assigned to one of their victims, who has become a creditor of theirs, since the court awarded him costs), gone broke, and are just waiting for someone to dump them in a pauper's grave. It's possible that one of their early investors will come back and rescue them, but that would be a miracle as implausible as the climax of the Smurf's Family Christmas.
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Records at Network Solutions, which tracks domain names, showed control of Righthaven’s website domain name was transferred Wednesday to Randazza Legal Group, which represents Righthaven creditor Wayne Hoehn.
However, attorney Marc Randazza said that information was incorrect and that a court-appointed receiver, attorney Lara Pearson of the Rimon Law Group in the Reno area, had control of it.
Righthaven, the copyright trolling organization that misrepresented its title to the copyrights of many of the newspaper articles at issue in its lawsuits against website operators, is now on the brink of bankruptcy. The US Marshals in Nevada have been authorized to seize $63,720.80 from it in cash or assets to pay the fines and fees owed for one of its failed legal actions. For more of Righthaven's keystone kops antics, see our earlier stories.
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In August, the case Righthaven v. Hoehn was tossed by a federal judge in Nevada, who went a step further and declared that defendant Wayne Hoehn's complete copy of a newspaper article in a sub-forum on the site "Madjack Sports" was fair use. On August 15, the judge awarded $34,045.50 to the Randazza Legal Group, which represented Hoehn. Righthaven, which had spent so much time thundering to defendants about just how badly the federal courts would make them pay... didn't pay.
Instead, it filed a flurry of appeals alleging (among other things) that having to pay the money would involve "the very real threat of being forced out of business or being forced to seek protection through bankruptcy." Righthaven contended that it could eventually win the case on appeal and thus should not be bankrupted before it had the chance to make its case.
But the increasingly disorganized organization couldn't even get its appellate filings in on time. Yesterday, Righthaven had to admit that it missed the October 31 deadline for its opening brief in the case.
Everyone's favorite copyright troll Righthaven has once again had its ass handed to it. The company, which was spun out of a Nevada newspaper, sublicenses the right to sue people from copyright holders, then sends legal threats to bloggers and website owners who publish articles or images from newspapers, including short quotations or thumbnails. Judges keep telling Righthaven that this isn't legal -- there's no such thing as a sub-licensable right to sue -- but Righthaven keeps on keeping on.
This time, they sued a user on a sports-book message board, who pasted two complete op-eds into a sub-sub board on the system. Not only did the judge rule that this was fair use (an eye-popping precedent in its own right), but it also ruled that, as usual, Righthaven didn't have any business suing the poster because they didn't own the copyright.
Here's where it gets even sadder: Righthaven then argued that it shouldn't have to pay the defendants' attorney fees because it didn't have standing to sue, so the court didn't have standing to order it to pay. The judge laughed and laughed and laughed. And told them to cough up $34,045.50.
Defense attorney J. Malcolm DeVoy was furious. "Righthaven deserves some credit for taking this position, as it requires an amazing amount of chutzpah," he wrote to the judge. "Righthaven seeks a ruling holding that, as long as a plaintiff’s case is completely frivolous, then the court is deprived of the right to make the frivolously sued defendant whole, whereas a partially frivolous case might give rise to fee liability. Read the rest