Copyright troll RightHaven makes big mistake

Copyright troll Righthaven, which normally sues people with no money, appears to have made a bit of a mistake suing Ars Technica for reporting a story about… RightHaven.

Righthaven filed a federal lawsuit against freelance writers over a post which appeared on Ars Technica in December. It dropped the case this morning, claiming the law suit was a clerical mistake.

It all started when Eriq Gardner penned a yarn which had the title “Copyright troll Righthaven sues for control of Drudge Report domain.” In the story it said that Righthaven had expanded its work to include suing for papers like the Denver Post, and how it was pursuing The Drudge Report for using a Post photo of a TSA airport pat-down.

Righthaven demanded that it was given control of the Drudge Report domain name as part payment for the use of a picture.

Gardner reproduced the pat-down photo in question from Righthaven’s own court filing against The Drudge Report. It was a grainy black-and-white image from the court documents, which in turn had copied the image from Drudge, which in turn had allegedly copied it from the Post.

What Fairhaven had forgotten was that US copyright law allows certain “fair uses” of copyrighted material without consent of the rights holder; such uses explicitly include “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research.”

It had also forgotten the small matter of jurisdiction. Gardner was from New York as was Ars. Righthaven wanted to sue them both in Nevada over a Colorado photo.

Steven Ganim and Shawn Mangano, lawyers for Righthaven, said that the lawsuit had been “dismissed with prejudice” this morning after it “came to our attention” that Gardner was a reporter.

In other words it did not check before starting legal action. But part of the problem was that there had been some “confusion” about the exhibits on the complaint.