Newspaper Chain Drops "copyright troll" Righthaven

Dec 8, 2004
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The new chief executive of MediaNews Group, publisher of the Denver Post and 50 other newspapers, said it was “a dumb idea” for the nation’s second-largest newspaper chain to sign up with copyright troll Righthaven. The Denver-based publisher’s year-long copyright infringement litigation deal with Righthaven is terminating at month’s end, said John Paton, who replaced Dean Singleton to lead the company on Wednesday.

“The issues about copyright are real,” Paton told Wired.com in a telephone interview. “But the idea that you would hire someone on an — essentially — success fee to run around and sue people at will who may or may not have infringed as a way of protecting yourself … does not reflect how news is created and disseminated in the modern world.”

“I come from the idea that it was a dumb idea from the start,” Paton added, noting that Righthaven was informed of the decision to end relations last month.

On Wednesday, Wired reported that Las Vegas-based Righthaven, founded more than a year ago to monetize print news content through copyright infringement lawsuits, was struggling after several courtroom setbacks. Righthaven has not prevailed in court on any of the infringement lawsuits filed over MediaNews’ content, though it appears from court records that about two dozen cases had settled out of court.

Paton said if he was MediaNews’ chief a year ago, he likely never would have signed on with Righthaven, which hoped to fix the print media’s financial ills by suing bloggers and website owners for reposting snippets or entire copyrighted articles. Terms of the Righthaven-MediaNews deal grant each side a 50-percent stake in settlements and verdicts.

Three dozen outstanding MediaNews infringement cases over Denver Post material are one hold while a federal judge in Colorado weighs dismissal over MediaNews’ agreement with Righthaven. A decision by U.S. District Judge John Kane of Denver is pending on whether the lawsuits can proceed to the merits of the infringement allegations.

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
.

“It’s more complicated than that because the cases are with Righthaven, and they have control as long as litigation is in process,” Glines wrote in an e-mail. “But our position is that we will not pursue further litigation with Righthaven.”

The legal flap in those copyright cases concerns Righthaven not owning the copyrights it was filing suit over, despite initially saying it did. Instead, MediaNews granted Righthaven permission to sue over the newspaper chain’s content. The deal does not grant Righthaven license to use the content in any other way other than for litigation purposes. The Copyright Act, however, only gives rights holders legal standing to sue on behalf of their own works.

Judges in Las Vegas have been dismissing Righthaven lawsuits left and right over the same standing issue in lawsuits regarding content owned by Stephens Media of Las Vegas — Righthaven’s first and remaining client — and a major investor in the faltering enterprise.

Righthaven has not filed a new case in two months. Righthaven’s chief executive, Steve Gibson, said in a recent telephone interview it is awaiting appellate rulings on the issues of standing and and fair use before pursuing more litigation.

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Sinn Fein

Infidel and White Interloper
Wackbag Staff
Aug 29, 2002
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Some more news:

Marshals ordered to seize Righthaven assets

Las Vegas copyright infringement lawsuit filer Righthaven LLC’s financial problems grew Tuesday when the federal court in Las Vegas commanded the U.S. Marshals Service to seize more than $63,000 in Righthaven assets to satisfy a creditor’s judgment and costs.

Lance Wilson, clerk of the court, signed a writ of execution requested by attorneys for Wayne Hoehn, who was sued for copyright infringement by Righthaven — but then defeated Righthaven in court when his case was dismissed this summer.

Righthaven since March 2010 has filed 275 lawsuits against websites, bloggers and message board posters claiming they infringed on material from the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Denver Post by posting their content online without authorization.

The company’s litigation campaign stalled this summer after three suits were thrown out on fair use grounds and five judges in Nevada and Colorado ruled Righthaven lacked standing to sue because it didn’t control the newspaper copyrights it claimed to own.

Hoehn, a Kentucky message board poster, had posted a Review-Journal column on a sports betting website.

Righthaven said the no-warning suits against Hoehn and the other defendants were needed to deter rampant infringement of news content, but Hoehn’s attorneys said the suit against him was aimed at chilling Hoehn’s free speech rights.

After U.S. District Judge Philip Pro in Las Vegas dismissed Righthaven’s suit against Hoehn this summer on both fair use and standing grounds, he also ordered Righthaven to pay his $34,045.50 in legal fees to Randazza Legal Group of Las Vegas.

Righthaven has refused to pay and has said it faces bankruptcy if a creditor like Hoehn tries to seize its assets. The company has said it’s low on cash because the problems with its litigation campaign have reduced lawsuit settlement revenue. But even as the company has refused to pay Hoehn, it has continued paying attorneys to litigate other cases in Nevada, Colorado and South Carolina.

It’s appealing to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals both the dismissal of its suit against Hoehn as well as the award for his attorney’s fees — one of several attorney’s fee awards Righthaven has been hit with or is likely to be hit with.

The writ of execution signed Tuesday covers not only the original $34,045 in fees, but nearly $30,000 more in fees racked up by Randazza Legal Group in trying to get Righthaven to pay the first $34,045.

The entire writ, which includes a small amount of interest, is for $63,720.80.

A message for comment was placed with Righthaven on the writ.

Based on its past practice, Righthaven is likely to fight execution of the writ with another court appeal — though it hasn’t taken the bankruptcy option off the table.

The writ was issued after Randazza Legal Group attorneys asked the court to issue it Saturday, one day after Righthaven missed a deadline to either pay the original $34,045 or post a bond guaranteeing payment while it appealed the fee award.

"Righthaven has exhausted any benefit of the doubt that it could be afforded, and it is time for it to pay the consequences for its actions — starting with Hoehn’s lawful judgment plus the accrued costs and fees expended in the (so far) futile attempts to compel Righthaven to take this court’s orders seriously,’’ Randazza attorneys wrote in Saturday’s request.