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.