A copyright troll which sued people for quoting an article has had its entire legal argument gutted by a federal judge.
According to Ars Technica, District Judge Philip Pro ruled that publishing an entire article without the rights holder’s authorisation was a fair use of the work.
Newspaper copyright troll Righthaven had been suing bloggers for thousands of dollars for using quotes from a person it claimed was its client.
Pro’s ruling dismitssed a lawsuit brought by Righthaven, against Wayne Hoehn, a Vietnam veteran who posted all 19 paragraphs of November editorial from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which is owned by Stephens Media.
He posted the article on medjacksports.com to prompt discussion about the financial affairs of the nation’s states.
Righthaven demanded he pay $150,000, the maximum in damages allowed under the Copyright Act because his post reduced the number of eyeballs that would have visited the Review-Journal site to read the editorial.
However Judge Pro said that Righthaven did not present any evidence that the market for the work was harmed by Hoehn’s noncommercial use for the 40 days it appeared on the website.
He said that Hoehn’s use of the work was fair and gave a summary judgement. Marc Randazza, one of Hoehn’s attorneys, said he would petition the judge for legal fees and costs.
The judge took into consideration that only five of the editorial’s paragraphs were “purely creative opinions” of the author.
While the article did have some creative or editorial elements, these elements were not enough to consider the work a purely ‘creative work’ in the realm of fictional stories, song lyrics, or Barbie dolls.
Judge Pro added that the poster made no money from the blog and the article was part of an “online discussion.”
He had already found that Righthaven did not have legal standing to bring the lawsuit and another judge in Las Vegas federal judge threatened to sanction Righthaven, calling its litigation efforts “disingenuous, if not outright deceitful”.