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The Courts Your Rights Online

Righthaven Loses 79

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the if-only-this-was-the-end dept.
A month ago we noted that the legal system had put Righthaven on hold, but now redwolfe7707 noted that "A federal judge in Nevada says a Las Vegas law firm targeting unauthorized content on the Internet cannot sue others over a news company's copyrights. The Las Vegas Sun reported Tuesday the dismissal of a lawsuit by copyright enforcer Righthaven LLC against the website Democratic Underground. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Roger Hunt says copyright plaintiffs must control the rights to material in order to sue for copyright infringement."
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Righthaven Loses

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  • My favorite line. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SniperJoe (1984152) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @12:23PM (#36451920)
    My favorite line from the judge's ruling?

    "IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Righthaven show cause, in writing, no later than two (2) weeks from the date of this order, why it should not be sanctioned. "

    Kudos to the Judge on this one.
  • as long as the laws in the book remain the way they are, many more will spring up to replace them. you want this stopped? write your congress critter (hand written letter usually gets better result.)

  • I am sure that the newspapers will just grant full copyright to RightHaven, for a right to share in the spoils of the lawsuits. This might have been RightHaven's plan all along...

    • by tepples (727027) <tepples@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @12:44PM (#36452248) Homepage Journal

      I am sure that the newspapers will just grant full copyright to RightHaven, for a right to share in the spoils of the lawsuits.

      Or another variation: sell Righthaven the exclusive right to sublicense articles to other web sites. This would make Righthaven more like a copyright clearance agency such as BMI or iCopyright.

      • That would allow Righthaven to be in the lawsuit as a party; however, Stephen Media would have to a party as well if I understand it correctly.
      • by DRJlaw (946416) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @02:55PM (#36453726)

        I am sure that the newspapers will just grant full copyright to RightHaven, for a right to share in the spoils of the lawsuits.

        Or another variation: sell Righthaven the exclusive right to sublicense articles to other web sites. This would make Righthaven more like a copyright clearance agency such as BMI or iCopyright.

        There's a reason why Righthaven is attempting to avoid doing that. That makes the copyright an asset that can be reached by defendants who are awarded sanctions. When Righthaven receives a settlement, you can reasonably assume that the money is not sitting in a bank in Righthaven's name. Instead, it is disbursed to offset "expenses," "salaries," payments by the LLC to its members, etc. One of the significant reasons for forming an LLC for a venture is to limit liability -- with rare and expensive-to-litigate exceptions, losses would be limited to the present value of the members' investment in the LLC.

        If Righthaven is subject to significant sanctions, for example, in this case, the members could decide to pay the sanctions to keep the entity afloat, or declare the entity insolvent. In the latter case, the defendent is merely an unsecured creditor who had better hope that the bankruptcy trusteee chooses to be agressive in pursuing recourse from the LLC members.

        If Righthaven owns the copyright, suddenly there is the specter of a defendant gaining control of the copyright, including the right to sue for infringement. All related litigation against other defendants could be rendered moot, and the defendent holding the copyright could potentially have a field day. A ticked off defendant holding a right to create and distribute derivative works is not an appetizing prospect.

    • by mr1911 (1942298)

      I am sure that the newspapers will just grant full copyright to RightHaven, for a right to share in the spoils of the lawsuits.

      A newspaper giving away their asset in order for someone to enforce the asset doesn't leave it an asset of the newspaper, does it? So, why would the newspaper do that? Would you sign over the title to your home when you hire a firm to install and monitor a security system?

      This might have been RightHaven's plan all along...

      I have a plan for everyone in the world to send me $100. The fact such plan exists does not mean anyone will be dumb enough to do it...

      • The thing is that Righthaven is owned by Stephens Media so they wouldn't really be giving up anything. Righthaven is basically a front company for Stepehens Media to sue people and funnel money back to themselves without having been themselves named as the plaintiff. One of the issues, amongst many, that the judge had was the fact that Righthaven didn't disclose the fact that they were acting as a plaintiff in place of Stephens Media who did not want to be named in the suit.

        • by mr1911 (1942298)
          Well, kinda. Whatever Righthaven's ownership structure is, they are a separate entity, and the assets of the parent company do not belong to the subsidiary. So the judge's standing is completely correct that Righthaven does not own the copyright they are seeking to enforce.

          Stephens Media who did not want to be named in the suit

          Gotta love how that worked out for them.

          • Well, kinda. Whatever Righthaven's ownership structure is, they are a separate entity, and the assets of the parent company do not belong to the subsidiary. So the judge's standing is completely correct that Righthaven does not own the copyright they are seeking to enforce.

            True, they are a separate entity. My point was only to counter the person thinking that Stephens Media was selling handing their copyrights off to someone else when Stephens Media would have just been transferring their copyrights to a shell company that they control. And yes, due to the fact that Righthaven itself is not the copyright holder they have no standing at all to sue.

            Gotta love how that worked out for them.

            No one excused these people of being clever.

    • If they did that, they'd effectively be selling their the copyright of all their works to each other. They won't even grant full copyright with some limitations. Their whole case is that without enforced, they can't survive. To have a conglomerate wholesale all of their rights to each other makes for an argument that a newspaper is not the sum of its copyrights.

    • by steelfood (895457)

      RTFA. Or more accurately, read the Wired/Ars article (they're the same) linked to in some of the posts above, because the editors can't be bothered to do any actual editing.

      Hunt noted that Righthaven and Stephens Media had agreed to share the proceeds of any damages awards or settlementsâ"but Stephens Media kept ownership of the copyright.

    • There is still an additional problem for Righthaven. The current judicial interpretation of fair use says that in order for something to be a violation of fair use, it must reduce the ability of the copyright holder to make money off of the copyrighted material. Since the only way that Righthaven makes money off of copyrighted material is by suing people for violation, it is not possible to reduce their ability to make money off of it by publishing it.
      • But if that makes it Fair Use, then Righthaven won't make money off suing you, so by using the material under Fair Use, you're impacting their "sewer" business and revenue, which removes the Fair Use defense. I think Ray Liotta expressed this as "Fuck you, pay me!"
        • by BitZtream (692029)

          The problem with your logic is that you're making the assumption that you are 'taking away from Righthaven's valid business model', but the model is not legal so it can't be used, meaning you can't take away from it.

          Basically, if it worked like you're saying, anyone could invent a 'business model' worded in such a way that someone else would be infringing on it, they could word it as such that it targeted specific people even.

          You can't sue someone because they didn't allow you to break the law.

        • Actually, I worded that poorly. I will try for slightly better wording. In order for the fair use test to fail, the infringer's use of the copyrighted material must reduce the ability of the copyright holder to make money off of the publishing of that material. This is not a definitive test. That is, by itself the failure to impede the copyright holder's ability to make money by publishing the material does not in and of itself make such use fair use. There are other conditions that must be met as well.
          How
          • Copyright infringement is not predicated on potential earnings of the copyright holder or how much the infringer made. Infringment is only predicated on permission except for fair use reasons. Fair use is not limited to non commercial applications. For example, newspapers publish reviews of books, music, movies all the time. They may show clips of the work in their paper or website. That is fair use even if the paper is commercial as it is for critiquing and reviewing a work. The paper cannot publish t
    • I am sure that the newspapers will just grant full copyright to RightHaven, for a right to share in the spoils of the lawsuits. This might have been RightHaven's plan all along...

      Doubtful, considering that Righthaven is partly owned by members of the Stephens family. Warren Stephens is the founder of Stephens Media, the rights holder. It sounds like Righthaven was set up as an additional revenue stream for the family (and others), not as a rights holder. Stephens Media still retains the rights. It seems like they wanted to prove their case with their own works first before offering their services to others.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Much more detailed than the submitter's link: techdirt's article [techdirt.com].

  • Here's why:

    First, news-oriented websites may not like having their material blatantly stolen, but they do love being referred to, with appropriate credit. Assigning their rights to RightHaven would almost certainly have a chilling effect on their website's popularity, and that equals dollars lost, not dollars made.

    Second, as part owner of the copyright, RightHaven would have a right to part of any proceeds the website might generate by authorizing a third party to use the copyrighted materials.

    Third, as part owner of the copright, RightHaven would have the authority to forbid such third party use or impose their own conditions on such use.

    Now, if the news agency in question were to hire RightHaven, that would give RIghtHaven the standing they need to refile the (recently dismissed) lawsuit while preserving the news agency's undisputed ownership of the copyrighted materials. However, even this could have a less than desirable effect on their readership. Once more, we're talking about dollars lost (although the news agency in question could see this issue differently).

    • Apparently, you're not aware that the owners of the newspaper are also the owners of Righthaven. Which nullifies all of your points.

      • Apparently, you're not aware that the owners of the newspaper are also the owners of Righthaven. Which nullifies all of your points.

        Actually, it doesn't but does change the thrust of the argument.

        A corporation may create a separate, but wholly owned, corporation for a variety of reasons. For example, a company may create a separate delivery arm to shill the corporate assists from liability in the event of a vehicle accident so that only the assets owned by the delivery company are ultimately at risk in the event of a lawsuit. They may see one aspect of the business is more desirable and create separate companies to concentrate the more

  • Hip hip hooray!
    Hip hip hooray!
    Hip hip hooray!
  • Sadly.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EvilStein (414640) <{ten.pbp} {ta} {maps}> on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @02:37PM (#36453538) Homepage

    I wonder if this case would have gotten as much press if Righthaven didn't rile up Democrats & bloggers by suing Democratic Underground. They had sued several other bloggers before this, but the DU lawsuit is what really riled people up and got this in the news.

    They also went after emtcity.com, a forum run by a retired EMT. He has limited resources and this has been financially (and emotionally) draining. All because ONE forum user posted a few paragraphs from an article and linked to the article.

    Righthaven is the worst kind of troll. And I hope the Las Vegas Review Journal staff are utterly disgusted with themselves.

  • Between what Righthaven is trying to do, and the blanket litigation tactics the RIAA employs?
  • The real question here is, why did it take the judge so long to reach such a common sense answer? A lot of people have been twisting in the wind waiting for this definitive slap-down.
    • The real question here is, why did it take the judge so long to reach such a common sense answer? A lot of people have been twisting in the wind waiting for this definitive slap-down.

      If you read the judgment, you'll find the answer: Because Righthaven lied to the court. By law, Righthaven had to disclose anyone having a financial interest in the lawsuit, and they didn't do that. It took a while for someone to find out that Righthaven was lying. Now the court knows, and the court knows that Righthaven was withholding information and acting dishonestly in 200 cases in that district alone, and is giving Righthaven 14 days time to explain why they shouldn't be sanctioned.

      This might becom

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