Tag: righthaven

Mystery bidder takes copyright troll's name

In what is widely seen as proof of the existence of karma, the copyright troll Righthaven has lost its domain name.

 

Righthaven attempted to make money by suing everyone who used certain news articles in their blogs. It threatened thousands of people, saying that if they did not pay up they would go to court and Righthaven would take their domain name off them.

 

This threat was used to apply to some of the bigger names in the tech press, including Ars Technica.

 

Righthaven initially was winning and settling cases as defendants paid a few thousand dollars each to make them go away. Fortunately, for the free speech rights of humanity it all went pear shaped for Righthaven as its legal get-rich-quick scheme appeared to flounder in court.

 

Now, according to Wired, the online domain for Righthaven has sold at auction for $3,300 to help satisfy the Las Vegas company’s debts.

 

Righthaven owes $63,000 in legal fees after it lost a case in which a federal judge said that reposting an entire news article in an online forum was fair use.

 

It is not clear who bought the domain name but it’s possible that the domain squatter picked it up hoping that all the links to the domain name might make it a bit of cash.

 

The cash is a drop in the bucket of the legal fees of Las Vegas lawyer Marc Randazza for successfully defending Vietnam veteran Wayne Hoen against a Righthaven copyright lawsuit that sought large damages for posting the entirety of a Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial to a small online message board.

 

Righthaven is still appealing that case, but has been hit by a separate order in October to pay $120,000 in legal fees in another case it had lost.

 

Newspaper admits that copyright trolling was a bad idea

The new chief executive of MediaNews Group has admitted that it was a really “a dumb idea” for the nation’s second-largest newspaper chain to sign up with copyright troll Righthaven.

John Paton has taken over as the chap in charge of publishing the Denver Post and 50 other newspapers from Dean Singleton. Singleton thought it was a neat idea to hire a law firm called Righthaven to hound bloggers through the courts for mentioning his company’s news articles,

Paton told Ars Technica that particular arrangement will be over at the end of the month. He said that the issues about copyright were real. But the concept that you could hire someone on a success fee to sue people who may or may not have infringed copyright as a way of protecting yourself was daft.

Paton said that he though it was a dumb idea from the start.

The claims are Las Vegas-based Righthaven was founded more than a year ago to raise cash through copyright infringement lawsuits. It might have worked if the law had not got in the way.

So far Righthaven has not prevailed in court on any of the infringement lawsuits filed over MediaNews’ content. However, it has managed to collect cash from 24 out of court settlements which were made because people paid up thanks to the threat of court action.

Paton said if he was MediaNews’ chief a year ago, he likely never would have signed on with Righthaven.

Sara Glines, a MediaNews vice president, said those cases are likely to remain active as Judge Kane weighs whether Righthaven has standing to sue over the Denver Post copyrights.

Righthaven has not filed a new case in two months so it looks like once this current batch is processed it will be the end of this troll. 

Troll gives angry Judge "dog ate my homework" excuse

Copyright troll Righthaven is blaming an update to a computer browser for not electronically submitting a legal filing before an angry judge’s deadline.

To say that the filing was critical to Righthaven is an understatement. US District Judge Roger Hunt was demanding Righthaven explain why the outfit made “dishonest statements to the court.”

According to Wired, Righthaven’s Las Vegas lawyer Shawn Mangano said it was because an “automatic software update for the internet browser” on his computer caused the browser to stop working with the federal judiciary’s electronic filing system. While the CM/ECF system was accessible, it did not permit any files to be attached (.pdf) for submission, Righthaven claimed.

The filing system is fairly basic but its compatible with the major browsers, including IE, Safari, Firefox and Chrome.

If is not clear why, if this was the case, Righthaven did not simply roll back the update for such a crucial document, or even get a statement from someone else, more technical, to say that it was true.

You would think that survival would be high on Righthaven’s agenda right now as Hunt had demanded it explain why it should not be sanctioned it for trying to “manufacture standing.”

He also wanted to know why Righthaven failed to tell anyone that Las Vegas firm Stephens Media had a “pecuniary interest”in the outcome of Righthaven cases.

Righthaven claimed in its lawsuits that it owned the copyrights it was suing over. But the internal memo disclosed that it did not. 

Righthaven claims it has the right to sue

Copyright troll Righthaven has revised its contract with the Las Vegas Review-Journal so that it has full copyright ownership over the outfit’s content.

Bloggers, who the La Vegas Review claims stole its content, were able to laugh Righthaven out of court because it had no legal right to sue them.

US District Judge Roger Hunt dismissed Righthaven’case against the Democratic Underground blog, and descided that Righthaven attempted to “manufacture” standing to sue.

According to Wired, by changing the agreement that exists between Las Vegas Review-Journal and Righthaven it is possible for the law firm to sue whenever it sees a blogger using the magazine in a way it doesn’t like. According to Righthaven, it is now the sole owner of the copyrighted work in this case.

It seems strange that a newspaper which is so keen to defend its copyright should give an independent company the rights to all its content. However, at this point, the Review-Journal has very little to lose. Its name is already mud for supporting Righthaven and it has yet to see much cash from doing so.

Judge Hunt does not seem to like Righthaven much, and is unlikely to re-open the case. He has said that the amended agreement was “cosmetic” although he has not made a ruling on it yet.

Even if this turns out to be a non-issue, Righthaven then has to run the gauntlet as to whether or not the Judge thinks that the use of stories by bloggers in this way is “fair use”. There are already some specific rulings which suggest he might move in this direction,

More than 100 bloggers and websites paid Righthaven to go away before the issue of Righthaven’s standing to sue was brought to light. It is possible that there might be counter-suits, particularly if Hunt refuses to re-open the case.

 

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Copyright troll's entire case gutted

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”. 

Copyright troll about to be sued by bloggers

Bloggers who were terrified by copyright troll Righthaven into paying up rather than go to court, are banding together to sue the outfit.

While Righthaven did badly when it sued up in court, it did rather well by scaring the willies off bloggers to settle.

Now that a federal judge said the copyright troll had no legal standing to bring that kind of lawsuit, they are thinking about how they can get their money back.

Clayton Cramer, the former operator of the now-defunct Armedcitizen.net, said in a telephone interview he was thinking about what to do..

More than 100 blogs owners and other sites have settled with Righthaven for undisclosed sums, and want their cash back. Righthaven sued more than 300 people across the nation and it appears that it did so illegally.

Cramer settled for an undisclosed sum with Righthaven last year to end allegations his gun rights site committed copyright infringement for running an entire Las Vegas Review-Journal article. Initially the outfit demanded $75,000, which Clayton thought was credible.

Righthaven had been suing on behalf of Stephens Media copyrights, but US District Judge Roger Hunt said that such a litigation tactic was illegal because a “copyright owner cannot assign a bare right to sue.”

The decision, and a similar one in Colorado has totally stuffed up the litigation-based business model, which the Electronic Frontier Foundation has been campaigning against.

Lawyers are currently looking at whether the settled cases can be reopened, or whether there are other legal options.

Steve Gibson, Righthaven’s chief executive, told Wired  that the bloggers who settled were guilty of infringement.

Righthaven and Stephens Media have altered their licensing arrangement in a bid to obtain legal standing, Gibson said.

He warned that if the bloggers who settled managed to get their settlement’s vacated, they might be sued again. 

Copyright troll Righthaven takes another hammering

The cuddly copyright-troll Righthaven has hit another iceberg in its attempt to squeeze cash out of people who it claims nicked client content.

A Colorado federal judge iced pending lawsuits because he was not convinced Righthaven can sue over Denver Post articles.

Righthaven had been making a killing threatening those who linked to Denver Post articles with a choice of paying them money or having to face expensive legal action.

According to the Las Vegas Sun, a licensing arrangement between the Denver Post and Righthaven does not actually give the outfit the right to sue.

The deal between Stephens Media and Righthaven gives each a 50 percent stake in any settlements or verdicts. However, it said that Righthaven has no right to exploit Stephens Media’s assigned copyrights other than the right to proceeds in association with a recovery.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has pointed out that nobody can sue and claim ownership of a work unless they have the rights to reproduce and redistribute the work.

Righthaven has been using a loophole in copyright law to sue bloggers.

So far Righthaven has sued 300 websites on copyright-infringement allegations. A percentage have paid up rather than go through an expensive court case. 

Righthaven counter-sued over copyright claims

Anti-P2P lawyer Righthaven has been counter-sued by one of the website operators it accused of copyright infringement.

According to Vegasinc.com, the counterclaim seeks to represent defendants in all 57 Righthaven cases in Colorado.

The suit, bought by BuzzFeed, claims that all involved in the Righthaven lawsuits “are victims of extortion litigation”.

It said that as a result of Righthaven’s unlawful actions, class plaintiffs and members of the proposed class were forced either to fight needless litigation or to pay Righthaven a settlement fee.

It said that if Righthaven was legit it would not have to pay anything and that the legal outfit violates Colorado’s law against unfair and deceptive trade practices.

Righthaven victimises defendants by failing to send takedown notices prior to suing. It threatens to steal website domain names when that’s not provided for under the federal Copyright Act. It falsely claims it owns the copyrights and fails to investigate jurisdictional and fair use issues before suing.

The claim wants an injunction against Righthaven to stop it continuing the alleged unfair and deceptive trade practices. It also wants cash for those who sign up to the class action as well as their costs and attorney’s fees.

Righthaven has been making the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Denver Post’s names mud with its antics. On their behalf it has filed 274 suits against websites, bloggers and message-board posters over material from those newspapers since March 2010.

There are eight counterclaims filed against Righthaven and it has not done very well defending against them. The copyright enforcement company has already lost two Nevada cases on fair use rulings. It also has challenges to its standing to sue over Review-Journal material. Already a federal judge in Las Vegas says it does not have that right.

BuzzFeed said that it would sue the bottom off the Denver Post, but the fact that Righthaven has not got the right to represent the newspaper puts the kybosh on that plan. 

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.

Copyright lawyers hit the bulletin boards

US Legal copyright outfit Righthaven acting on behalf of the US newspaper industry is trying to stop people talking about the news on bulletin boards.

Lawyers acting on behalf of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Denver Post, filed seven infringement lawsuits against message board posters James Higgins and Wayne Hoehn.

According to the Las Vegas Sun  Higgins apparently made the grave error of posting a Review-Journal column about Transportation Security Administration pat downs of the elderly and disabled at Reno-Tahoe International Airport.

While Higgins credited the writer, John Smith, he didn’t credit the Review-Journal.

Righthaven claims that Hoehn posted as “Dogs that Bark” on the website madjacksports.com. It said that since 1999 Hoehn has posted about 18,000 items. Among those was an unauthorised copy of a Review-Journal column called “Public employee pensions” although that was credited to the Review-Journal and columnist Sherman Frederick.

Righthaven previously sued and settled with the owner of the madjacksports site.

Righthaven wants $150,000 in damages from both Higgins and Hoehn.

Meanwhile Righthaven has sued Business Insider, Inform Technologies, Bob G. Bell; Peter Ashton, five website operators, along with two website users, claiming material from the Review-Journal was posted on those sites without permission. Again it wants $150,000 apiece and forfeiture of the defendants’ domain names.

But Righthaven lawsuits have been dubbed frivolous and in some cases those sued are fighting back, hitting Stephens Media and Righthaven with counterclaims charging abuse of the court system and the copyright law.

But it seems that the outfit has had some success. most of the lawsuits are settled, apparently for under five figures. This is mostly people fearing what will happen if they lose in court.

So far, the only case that has got to court went against Righthaven when a judge found a Las Vegas real estate agent was protected by the “fair use” laws.