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Righthaven Defies Court In Domain Name Ruling 148

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the upping-the-ante dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Copyright troll Righthaven makes their money by coercing defendants of alleged copyright infringement into settling with them with threats of $150,000 in damages and forfeiture of the defendants' website domain names. Now EFF reports that Chief Judge Hunt of the federal court in Nevada, which is overseeing more than 200 Righthaven copyright cases, has dismissed Righthaven's merit-less claim to seize its victim's domain names. Righthaven contended that the mere hosting of any infringing material meant that the entire domain name was forfeit but the judge rejected that claim, explaining that the 'Court finds that Righthaven's request for such relief fails as a matter of law and is dismissed.' But now Righthaven has filed a new copyright case in Nevada federal court that not only demands forfeiture of the domain name but has asked the Court to 'order the surrender to Righthaven of all hardware, software, electronic media and domains, including the Domain used to store, disseminate and display the unauthorized versions of any and all copyrighted works.' The new complaint also asserts that Righthaven holds the 'exclusive rights' to Stephens Media news articles, despite the Strategic Alliance Agreement showing that Stephens Media retains these rights."
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Righthaven Defies Court In Domain Name Ruling

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  • Proof Positive (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moryath (553296) on Monday April 25, 2011 @09:20AM (#35928986)

    The fact that "Righthaven" are even allowed into court any more, in any jurisdiction, is proof positive that the justice system is broken.

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      So you don't even believe in the justice system at all, even when this is an example of times when it actually *works*? wow. Should this just be judge, jury, executioner instead?

      Even if Righthaven may be a copyright troll doesn't mean that shouldn't be determined by court. We do have a constitution you know.

      • by Golddess (1361003)
        Serious question. If someone "cries wolf" too often, why shouldn't they eventually be disallowed from suing others?

        Of course, maybe what Righthaven is doing doesn't count as "crying wolf", in which case, my question becomes a hypothetical.
        • No, of course not. It's entirely possible for someone to cry wolf 500 times, and then later suffer a legitimate injustice.

          • Re:Proof Positive (Score:5, Insightful)

            by causality (777677) on Monday April 25, 2011 @10:22AM (#35929576)

            No, of course not. It's entirely possible for someone to cry wolf 500 times, and then later suffer a legitimate injustice.

            It's entirely possible for them to think about that prior to crying wolf 500 times.

            It's entirely possible for them to be held up as an example to others, a warning against those who might feel inclined to similarly cry wolf.

            Particularly when their crying wolf is not a matter that's just between themselves and the judge, but involves the legal intimidation of innocents. All of these strong-arm tactics are over a relatively trivial matter like unauthorized copying, not gang violence or warfare or impending catastrophe.

            So now they are following the latest trend and trying to go after domains and equipment. They're following in the footsteps of what the government is doing in the name of safety and anti-terrorism, methods they no doubt admire. That's the latest escalation, then? Copyright cases need a "loser pays" system, where the loser of a case has to pay all of the opposition's legal expenses (perhaps times 1.5). Remove the profit from being a copyright troll and embolden the recipients of these threats to insist that the cases go to court. That's the best long-term solution to this kind of company. It also addresses the apparent rarity of such reasonable judges as this one.

            • So now they are following the latest trend and trying to go after domains and equipment. They're following in the footsteps of what the government is doing in the name of safety and anti-terrorism, methods they no doubt admire. That's the latest escalation, then? Copyright cases need a "loser pays" system, where the loser of a case has to pay all of the opposition's legal expenses (perhaps times 1.5). Remove the profit from being a copyright troll and embolden the recipients of these threats to insist that the cases go to court. That's the best long-term solution to this kind of company. It also addresses the apparent rarity of such reasonable judges as this one.

              This is probably the best way to handle it. Dictate some sort of soft cap on lawsuits, by exponentially increasing the cost to file, and having that cost decay over time. This would handle the one time in the future that someone actually suffers injustice, but also eliminates the lawsuit-income business model.

          • by jonbryce (703250)

            Well in England, if you do that, you get listed as a vexatious litigant usually after the 5th or 6th time, which means you aren't allowed to sue anyone else.
            http://www.attorneygeneral.gov.uk/AboutUs/Pages/VexatiousLitigants.aspx [attorneygeneral.gov.uk]

            • by sjames (1099)

              We supposedly have the same concept in the U.S. but Judges seem far more reluctant to impose it. IMHO, much too reluctant.

          • by sjames (1099)

            True, but it's about 500 times more likely that they are currently perpetrating an injustice than that they have suffered one.

            It seems reasonable that by that point, they would have to go through a stringent preliminary procedure before being allowed to sue.

          • Re:Proof Positive (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Svippy (876087) on Monday April 25, 2011 @02:11PM (#35933094) Homepage

            No, of course not. It's entirely possible for someone to cry wolf 500 times, and then later suffer a legitimate injustice.

            Isn't the entire moral of Peter and the Wolf that you should not 'cry wolf' unless it is a legitimate issue, because then no one will care when it is real? Or did you miss that part?

            • by Dhalka226 (559740)

              What's your point? That was a story; this is real life. The fact that it's excellent advice doesn't mean it's some sort of legal or even moral concept that must be adhered to.

              911 paramedics, for example, are legally prohibited from refusing a call even if they know beyond all doubt that the person making the call is a fucking liar who does nothing but waste their time and put actually sick people at danger. Why? Because even assholes sometimes do get sick, and the fact that they're assholes doesn't me

            • by Dan541 (1032000)

              If they cry wolf 500 times then what ever happens to them isn't an injustice. 500 is allot of victims, you can't receive an injustice at that point.

            • No [wikimedia.org].

          • by mwvdlee (775178)

            More likely Righthaven is going to cry wolf 500 times, drowning out some OTHER party that suffers a legitimate injustice.

        • by erroneus (253617)

          It takes a lot, but there have been cases where lawyers have found themselves disbarred after abusing the legal system too often. This, in my opinion, is just such a case. Making claims that cannot be proven, and worse, claims which can and have been disproven shows that this "legal professional" is reckless at the very least and most likely a lot worse.

          Personally, I think organizations that exist for the purpose of pure intellectual property enforcement should be disallowed entirely. There is entirely t

          • by Moryath (553296)

            The problem there, is that you can disbar their lawyers all you want... but the fucktards at Righthaven will just hire another shyster lawyer.

        • Yes but it has to be very extreme cases. The Righthaven suits are just beginning. Also there is a difference between filing suits that have no chance of winning and filing suits that have no merit. Righthaven is dangerously close to the latter.
          • Re:Proof Positive (Score:4, Interesting)

            by afidel (530433) on Monday April 25, 2011 @10:44AM (#35929864)
            I'm thinking they are really pushing their luck filing a new case with claims that the same court has already dismissed as being unenforceable under law. These guys have already pissed this judge off, if they don't watch out he's likely to go after their license. The judge has already admonished them that using the federal circuit as a business office is not the intent of the law, trying to refile the same claims he has rejected in a similar case is really just asking to have the hammer brought down on their heads.
            • Someone above made the comment that if lawyers are disbarred, the company just hires more lawyers, and while that's true, what the judge should (and may well) do is to impose monetary sanctions on RIghthaven itself. No amount of disbarred lawyers will make that go away.
              • by bigtrike (904535)

                You're assuming that the lawyers they're hiring to replace the original ones don't care about having jobs at any time in the future.

        • by Jaysyn (203771)

          Yes, a vexatious litigant can be disallowed from filing suits, but it's pretty rare that it actually happens.

        • by poetmatt (793785)

          They opened a shitload of cases. Only lately are they getting proper scrutiny. It takes people a little while to open their eyes to this kind of abuse of the legal system.

          If they keep it up, it's entirely possible that their lawyers could be sanctioned, but that's also for a judge to decide.

      • by Dishevel (1105119)

        They have been heard. Many times.
        The problem is that they have not been found by the courts as of yet to be a complete waste of the air they breathe.
        They should have been disbarred long ago. The reason people hate lawyers is because it is lawyers that have allowed these people to continue to practice law.
        There is NO reason for Righthaven to still exist. None.

      • by zildgulf (1116981)
        We do NOT have a Constitutional right to sue everyone and anyone with frivolous lawsuits indefinitely. "Righthaven" has gone full nuts and filed a lawsuit that doesn't have a snowballs' chance in H*LL given the previous ruling, which, by my definition, is frivolous. When this lawsuit is shutdown and another even more grandiose lawsuit, not appeal, is filed by "Righthaven" comes to this court he should be slapped with a lifetime ban on filling ALL lawsuits in this court.

        And yes, when the courts allow suc
      • by sjames (1099)

        In order to actually be working, the judge would need the ability to rule on matters of law before the defendant is even notified of the suit. That is, if something Righthaven is asking for would not happen even if everything they claim is perfectly true, it should be struck down as moot before the defendant has to bother with it. Otherwise, given the cost of being a defendant, even a successful one, it's not so much working as it is not failing completely.

      • by greenbird (859670)

        So you don't even believe in the justice system at all, even when this is an example of times when it actually *works*?

        It worked? So those poor innocent people are given the choice of paying 1tens of thousands on lawyers to defend themselves or paying blood money to lawyers filing frivolous lawsuits whose sole intention is to extort money from people. That's a working legal system to you?

    • > The fact that "Righthaven" are even allowed into court any more, in any jurisdiction, is proof positive that the justice system is broken.

      Wrong.

      Although their lawyers may be sanctioned for something like this, depending on whether they have any meritorious legal arguments.

    • by Luckyo (1726890)

      The entire point of functional, working justice system is that ANYONE, regardless of how deep in the wrong you think they are is allowed to bring their grievances to it.

      Another merit of a functional justice system is that it also denies petitions of such parties AFTER considering them. Not before.

      • by lymond01 (314120)

        Another merit of a functional justice system is that it also denies petitions of such parties AFTER considering them. Not before.

        Exactly.

        Judge: I've seen you here before, Righthaven. How is this case different than the last I judged?
        Righthaven: It's not, Your Honor. Just hoping you'd have forgotten.
        Judge: Thank you for corroborating my thoughts on the matter. Case dismissed. See you next time.

      • A better definition would include penalties for losing, especially when the case is so obviously without merit because it cites nonexistent laws, cites a state law in a federal case, and includes points which have already been rejected by the very same judge.

        I wouldn't mind them filing bogus case after bogus case, as long as they had to pay when they lost.

        But to allow ANYONE to file without penalty for being a jackass is not a sign of a functional justice system.

        • by Luckyo (1726890)

          The requirement of effort to bring the case forward is obvious. However when you start limiting WHO can bring the grievance to attention, where do you draw the line?

          History is full of examples where such limits were quickly subverted to serve various interests. Which is why it's much better to have a system with minimal penalties, and where anyone can bring a case forward, and suffer the inefficiency, rather then limit it and risk sinking into tyrannical justice system that only serves certain interests in

          • What the frack were you replying to? I argued that anyone should be allowed to file, as long as loser pays, so that the clowns would be self-limiting.

            A system where anyone can file WITHOUT penalty is not functional.

            • by Luckyo (1726890)

              Problem is, where do you draw the penalty and how? In the current system, the penalty is actually rather decent in many countries - you're required to pay the reasonable costs of winner's litigation. In obviously frivolous filings, you also often have a right to file a complaint against that party and ask for additional compensation (i.e. lost wages).

              But if you start handing out actual penalties, what will stop, say, a major company essentially sink all minor claims against it by lobbying for harsh enough p

              • The penalty is simple and dead obvious: loser pays, and not just court costs, but every expense the winner incurred in fighting the case. It should apply to all cases, including government criminal prosecution ans small claims court.

                A secondary help would be to require all such costs to be reported, and if any party spent more than (say, double) any other party, they automatically lose the case. This would prevent rich parties (including the government) from spending so much that they buy justice. But I

    • by Tom (822)

      You needed proof for that?

      The idea of the justice system is to deliver fair and equal treatment based on the book of the laws.

      The implementation of the justice system is to give the people the illusions of justice so they are less likely to kill the parasites that feed off the rest of society like vampires. Of course there is plenty of inofficial workarounds included for them, just in case they ever get in trouble with the law.

      It's a fascinating construct, really. I can't stop being amazed at how much you c

  • by Zeek40 (1017978) on Monday April 25, 2011 @09:20AM (#35928988)
    Seriously, they need to start disbarring lawyers who repeatedly bring these meritless lawsuits to court. That's the only thing that's going to stop them from continuing to use the legal system as their own personal slot machine.
    • by thisnamestoolong (1584383) on Monday April 25, 2011 @09:39AM (#35929150)
      This. We need tort reform in a big way. Lawyers and plaintiffs that bring frivolous lawsuits to court should have to repay the defendant for legal fees and lost wages. Heavy punitive damages should be levied against the bastards for abusing the court system. Lawyers who still don't get it ought to be disbarred permanently. That would end this in a hurry.
      • I agree, but we will never get meaningful tort reform while the trial lawyers control one of the two political parties.

        • Just one?
        • by Svartalf (2997)

          Here's a hint: They don't control one of the two parties...

      • by Jesus_666 (702802)
        How about this: If the lawsuit was found to be willfully frivolous the full charges asked for by the plaintiff are leveled... against the plaintiff. Sue someone for a million Dollars for no apparent reason? Perhaps the court believes you that it was a mistake. Do it again? Congratulations, you just made someone rich. If the bar is set high enough only court-as-a-business-model outfits should be affected.

        That should cut down on unreasonably high damages, too. After all, you don't want to risk losing that k
      • I think the problem lies in defining "frivolous lawsuit" or "abusing the court system" with some degree of formality. It's easy for us laymen to point to an existing or historical case and say that one is frivolous, but what standards for frivolousity should the court adhere to in making these decisions? Any such standard would have to be quite complex to account for the many caveats and nuances of arbitrary tort cases, further complicating the court system. And how would you feel if the suit you brought ag

        • by sjames (1099)

          It's a mistake to try to draw a definitive line in a gray area. Instead, draw TWO lines. One marks the point we are certain an abuse has happened and the other marks where we are certain it has not.

          I would think that if a judge tells you that you cannot be awarded X in this sort of case as a matter of law and you turn around and file the same sort of case demanding X+Y in the very same court, you're over the abuse line.

          They're in a court of law, not a preschool. Adults are supposed to know when NO means "no

      • by Solandri (704621)
        Just give them their own medicine. Trial lawyers always claim that being able to file lawsuits against people/companies in other professions is necessary to keep them honest. So make it legal to sue lawyers/law firms for filing frivolous lawsuits. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.
      • All you need is loser pays. Let them file all the bogus lawsuits they want, as long as they have to pay all court costs and all costs incurred by the winner, including legal costs, time off from work, every expense which was a direct result of having to defend oneself.

        They'd quickly learn not to file bogus cases.

    • by NevarMore (248971) on Monday April 25, 2011 @09:39AM (#35929154) Homepage Journal

      Seriously, they need to start dismembering lawyers who repeatedly bring these meritless lawsuits to court. That's the only thing that's going to stop them from continuing to use the legal system as their own personal slot machine.

    • by DJLuc1d (1010987)
      Oh man, that would be the best.... like when Jack Thompson got disbarred in Florida.
    • by dwillden (521345) on Monday April 25, 2011 @09:45AM (#35929194) Homepage
      Or just start actually enforcing the existing penalties for filing fraudulent suits and claims. Such penalties already exist, but getting the various state's to enforce them isn't always easy.
  • by Shoten (260439) on Monday April 25, 2011 @09:22AM (#35929008)

    If the original claim was dismissed "without prejudice," that doesn't preclude Righthaven from starting it all over again. If that's what has happened, then what they're doing isn't defiance of the court as much as trying to buy their way out of a bluff, proverbially speaking. Granted, it's not too likely that they'll succeed, but the idea of asking for all the "offending" infrastructure along with the domain name is to put a Sword of Damocles over the heads of the defendants so that if they lose, they'll lose everything.

    • Righthaven's business model (extortion/copyright trolling) relies on the ongoing threat of forfeiture of IP, domains, or other assets.

      Having an open lawsuit is essential to their business so they can point to it and say to their mark, "See, we're litigating this right now. You could be next." If one gets dismissed, they have to just file another one in a different way.

    • by skr95062 (2046934)
      Except that if the offending party is hosted, then the server is not the property of the offender. This would be allowing the troll to take the property of a third party. It is highly doubtful the judge would ever allow it. Besides where is the DMCA notification and why hasn't the judge smacked them down over this?
    • by TheSpoom (715771)

      Point me to the statutes that allow the winners of a civil copyright suit to seize the physical hardware of the losers. Let's just say I am doubtful such a statute exists, or that there's much in the way of precedence that supports such an idea.

      They're just trying to make an example out of the defendants with no regard for the actual laws.

  • Is Righthaven run by Darl McBride? Perhaps he's bankrolling the company. It just has that sort of flavor to it. The other thing I'll say is that from what I've seen, there are few things more ill-advised than defying a court.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    You didn't pay for that 0.99 song now give me your house.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      This is the good old USA!
  • by skuzzlebutt (177224) <`moc.skoorbdymerej' `ta' `bdj'> on Monday April 25, 2011 @09:29AM (#35929054) Homepage

    Righthaven is the copyright arm of the Las Vegas Review Journal...to give you an idea of the nuttiness we have to endure here in SinCity, keep in mind that the newspaper vehemently and viciously supported Her Wackiness Sharron Angle for Senate last year but then, in a grand showing of just how much they love their own wacky brand of libertarianism, sued her as a part of the Righthaven IP trolling campaign while continuing to donate money to her and devote editorial space to her campaign on a daily basis.

    It had a strange beauty...like watching two warthogs fighting over a rotting squirrel carcass while mating.

    • "...like watching two warthogs fighting over a rotting squirrel carcass while mating." Yeah...like that's an image I needed in my head.
    • So apparently "two warthogs fighting over a rotting squirrel carcass while mating" is considered Interesting to slashdotters.

      Now I understand the real reason for the whole 'living in the parents basement' thing. What better place to stash your collection of bullwhips and leather chaps?

    • by gangien (151940)

      Neither of them are libertarian.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Bullies in schools lead to Zangief Kid and columbine.

    Bullies in tech lead to... anonymous?

    The owners of copyright troll companies are going to wake up one day and find their names added to pedophile directories, their houses listed as dump sites, and their likenesses on federal no-fly watch lists.

    • No, Columbine was something different. Those kids were insane. Casey Haynes is a freaking hero; he won't take shit ever again and he won't crack ever again. Next kid gets hit because he needs it; he won't be coming to school with machine guns and mowing the whole class down.
  • ever deserved a friendly 10 gigabit DDOS from anonymous, these guys are it.
  • by EQ (28372)
    Or Contempt - when will either of those be used against the lawyers in Righthaven, who apparently disregard the judge, and the rulings, and the law.
  • Once you let it go, it devolves - see, private corporations/copyright trolls are already at the point of making laws out of their own ass, circumventing even the usual custom of buying them through the puppet parliaments via lobbying corporations ..

    "hosting of any infringing material meant that the entire domain name was forfeit" says the guys. they also claimed hardware, software, everything. next, they may be claiming that engaging in hosting infringing material should cost your car.
  • by repetty (260322) on Monday April 25, 2011 @09:51AM (#35929260) Homepage

    This reminds me of a bit of dialog from the movie "Thank Your for Smoking":

    Joey Naylor: Dad, why is the American government the best government?
    Nick Naylor: Because of our endless appeals system.

  • The tort of Malicious Prosecution comes in when no reasonable lawyer would believe that the law supports a case they have brought and the case has caused clear damage to the victims. The EFF should consider this route since Righthaven does not have legally valid ownership of any of Stephens Media's works. Therefore I would be surprised if they had a reasonable legal basis on which to bring suit...

  • by bmo (77928) on Monday April 25, 2011 @10:21AM (#35929574)

    Is that the only thing that keeps people from shooting each other is the court system.

    If you remove the trust that society places in the court system for dispensing significant amounts of justice, then courts are no longer the barrier between people with weapons.

    Don't say it doesn't happen, because it happens all over the world.

    Go ahead guys, keep abusing the system. First ones against the wall and all that.

    I feel like I am living in France in 1788 and we are all arguing over mouldy bread and bad wine.

    --
    BMO

    • (1) people get shot all the time...

      (2) the reason _I_ don't shoot people is because it is _rude_ to do so. I don't need a god, or the court, or any other "threat from above" to realize that if everybody went around shooting everyone, then we would all waste all our time trying not to get shot, and that would be anathema to the entire idea of civilization.

      • by bmo (77928)

        1. You missed the point entirely. So much so you've ignored thousands of years of human society and the results of what happens when it breaks down. Courts that do not work for the people in general are a breakdown in society.

        2. If there was no way for you to get redress for grievances, you'd shoot 'em. Because this is the way grievances are dealt with when they cannot be dealt wit by peaceful means (courts). This is why shooting wars over the breakdown of society are called revolutions. I didn't men

        • Most societies function _despite_ their system of jurisprudence not because of it.

          On a day-to-day basis do you feel guided or governed by your overlords? Is there a cop holding your hand from the trigger moment by moment? Is there a guy making sure you _never_ speed, and _do_ you never speed?

          The jurisprudence system is the lane-gutters of society not its founding force. When it goes wrong makes a right mess, and it isn't wholly unnecessary, but it only punishes after the fact. Few people, in the heat of the

          • by bmo (77928)

            tl;dr

            Argument by analogy fails against the reality. In particular, the Middle East, where people are being shot at by their governments because the people have decided that the governments no longer serve them. Some are firing back, and the reason why more do not is that they physically lack the guns.

            Foretelling doom when governments no longer represent the people is not only logical, but proven. This problem with patents and copyrights is just a symptom of a much larger problem: that a certain class doe

  • by MarkvW (1037596) on Monday April 25, 2011 @10:22AM (#35929580)

    If you've got a judgment rendered in state court, the fed courts won't let you re-present the same case in federal court. The general doctrine is called abstention, and the particular variant is called the Rooker-Feldman Doctrine.

    If they're jerking the same people around over the same subject matter, the federal judge will eat their face.

    Start up the sanction motions!

    • by jrumney (197329)
      My understanding is that this time it is different people, but using the same tactics that have already been ruled out in other cases brought by Righthaven. Expect early dismissal and possible sanctions for wasting the court's time.
  • ... the fact that "suing as a business plan" is allowed at all.

    When lawsuits are allowed to provide a revenue stream beyond verified actual damages plus reasonable expenses, they can be abused. And so they are abused, because profit is not restrained by ethics.

    Morgaine.

  • From what I have read, Righthaven didn't actually aquire any copyrights. They aquired the right to sue for copyright violations. Which means they don't actually own any copyrights. Which means that when they sue for copyright infringement, they are actually lying because they have no copyrights that are infringed on. And they most know this, because the previous court told them off for exactly that reason.

    I am wondering where the point would be reached where suing someone who you _know_ didn't do what yo
    • by mpe (36238)
      From what I have read, Righthaven didn't actually aquire any copyrights. They aquired the right to sue for copyright violations. Which means they don't actually own any copyrights.

      Sounds like they are in effect a "shell corporation" specifically to allow some other entity/ies to sue without risk of any counter suits.
      • by rahvin112 (446269)

        They are a shell corporation created by lawyers and only employing those lawyers. They are also launching suits without the authority to do so. See what they are trying to do is sue without exposing the Las Vegas Journal to counter damages. So they set this up as a shell corporation, then LRJ sold the rights to sue to RightHaven. The problem is that under copyright law you can't sue if you don't own the copyrights. But if Righthaven is only legal representation for LRJ then the LRJ would be liable for damag

    • I think it is. It's called perjury as far as I know. Of course, someone actually has to bring the charge up.

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