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. Righthaven's view, aside from being bizarre, does not even comport with the law surrounding prudential standing."
The judge agreed. In a terse order today, he decided that Hoehn had won the case (as the "prevailing party") and "the attorney's fees and costs sought on his behalf are reasonable." Righthaven has until September 14 to cut a check for $34,045.50.
This is the second case in weeks in which Righthaven has to pay Devoy and the Randazza Legal Group he represents. The first time, Righthaven sent its $3,815 check to the wrong address.