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The Media Your Rights Online News

Is This the End of Righthaven? 71

Posted by Soulskill
from the fail-fast-and-often dept.
New submitter Serpents writes "The new management of MediaNews Group (owner of the Denver Post) decided to terminate their contract with Righthaven. So far, the infamous copyright troll has lost all the infringement lawsuits they've filed (although it seems they've managed to settle out of court in a dozen cases or so). Is it possible this will finally spell Righthaven's doom?" The new CEO of MediaNews said that while the copyright issues are real, the involvement of Righthaven was "a dumb idea from the start."
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Is This the End of Righthaven?

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  • 1 down (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dthief (1700318) on Friday September 09, 2011 @02:55PM (#37356092)
    30,000 trolls to go?
  • Yes it's the end (Score:5, Informative)

    by iamhassi (659463) on Friday September 09, 2011 @03:04PM (#37356210) Journal
    Righthaven says it might have to file for bankruptcy [vegasinc.com]
    "Despite its backing by the billionaire Warren Stephens family, Las Vegas copyright lawsuit filer Righthaven LLC warned today it may have to file for bankruptcy because of a series of setbacks in its litigation campaign.

    The warning came in an emergency request by Righthaven to a federal judge in Las Vegas that he stay his order that Righthaven pay $34,045 in legal fees to attorneys who successfully defended Kentucky message board poster Wayne Hoehn against a Righthaven lawsuit."
    • by jank1887 (815982)

      hmmm.... so, company hires copyright troll. copyright troll creates quite a fuss, creates a bunch of lawsuits, causes a number of other groups to spend lots of money on the suits.

      company loses all of the lawsuits, declares bankruptcy before they can be forced to pay back any of the costs their lawsuits created.

      way too many steps, but... ???, PROFIT?

      should defendants be able to sue MediaNews Group for those costs?

      • I think the complainants should be chained to a wall and the defendants each given a baseball bat and one swing per complainant.

      • by vadim_t (324782)

        Not really profit, no.

        AFAIK, bankruptcy doesn't let you get away from paying for stuff. It means that a court will determine who has priority and who will get screwed out of the money they're owed.

        I don't think Righthaven is going to be recreated. They've proved to be a miserable failure, doing what they did no doubt cost quite a bit of money for the lawsuits they lost. The only point in reforming it would be if the people involved really thought that losing money in this manner was worth it, because it sur

        • I'll take the cynical view that it absolutely will get recreated.

          Copyright lawsuits are the new hotness! Plus the poster above nailed it - they absolutely do profit because they take their salaries out of the shell company, then declare bankruptcy before paying anyone anything. Then next week "Intellectual Promotions Group" forms, and starts all over. It's one of the deadliest business hacks ever.

          • by vadim_t (324782)

            And whose pocket do those salaries and lawyer fees come from? The company has to be funded somehow. Their client now thinks it was a bad idea.

            As a business it doesn't seem to be working. The only way I see this continue is if somebody really thinks this is worth losing money on, out of some sense of retribution or something like that.

            • The amount of money R. spent is peanuts compared to the fun they had! Instilling fear in the public is worth lots of subsidiary money. It is creating our Guilty Until Proven Innocent culture that can then be applied elsewhere.

          • by Darinbob (1142669)

            Yup, just make sure you take your profits before you go under. Bankruptcy will take money out of the company but they won't be able to claw back salaries given to the executives, or undo the perks that they got. A CEO of a failed company is not a failed CEO. They're a hot commodity. Even if your company failed it means you have some invaluable executive experience! CEOs are rarely created new, they're more often recycled. Having a network of investors or having gone through the process of going public

        • by jank1887 (815982)

          well, Q was hired by company X to do Y. Y incurred lots of costs to other people that Q can't make good on because they go bankrupt. Can people sue X?

        • by Baloroth (2370816)
          The company doesn't profit, but the people who ran it very well might. A corporation (be design) insulates those who run it from the financial difficulties of the company, meaning any million-dollar bonuses (which may or may not have happened, I have absolutely no idea) that the CEO or lawyers may have received, he/she/they don't have to pay back. Someone profited.
        • by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday September 09, 2011 @03:52PM (#37356926) Journal

          And you can be sure that defendants who have spent their hard-earned money will be near the bottom of the list. And you can also be sure that the lawyers who created this obscenity made good and sure they were insulated from it. You can be sure that the company never had anything meaningful in the way of assets, so there's nothing for creditors to take a bite of. The lawyers who created Righthaven will still be practicing law tomorrow, will still be living in their houses tomorrow, still be driving their cars tomorrow, their wives and/or girlfriends will still be getting expensive manicures tomorrow.

          That any legal system allows something like this to be perpetrated and affords the perpetrators the level of protection these shysters will get isn't worth a damn. Those guys should lose everything and should be thrown in prison and never ever be allowed to practice law anywhere in the United States ever again.

          • by alexo (9335)

            You're new on this planet, aren't you?

          • by vux984 (928602)

            And you can be sure that defendants who have spent their hard-earned money will be near the bottom of the list

            I'm not sure where court ordered payments go, but I'd surprised if they were at the bottom.

            Indeed...

            judgment creditor n. the winning plaintiff in a lawsuit to whom the court decides the defendant owes money. A judgment creditor can use various means to collect the judgment. The judgment is good for a specified number of years and then may be renewed by a filed request. If the defendant debtor files

        • by hairyfeet (841228)

          Sure they can profit friend, you just don't know how the game is played!

          You see they have already cost their targets money in lawsuits and court fees while at the same time getting salary from the shell corp which didn't have any assets! All the copyrights? Actually owned by Stephens Media NOT them, so they have NOTHING to lose. Since the real assets aren't in the shell corp they can just fold up their tents and then be "hired' by a NEW shell corp and cost more targets more monies!

          I can see this working

      • by Dhalka226 (559740)

        It sounds to me as though the respondents should be able to sue Warren Stevens.

        One of the reasons that a judge will pierce the corporate veil is undercapitalization, particularly if it is intentional. $34,000 is a ton of money to you or me, but it's not a ton to a company and especially not one funded by a billionaire. "We lost a lawsuit and have to pay attorney fees in one case, we're bankrupt!" sounds undercapitalized to me. For what amounts to a legal group, that is one of the costs of doing busines

      • Yes;
        1. 1. Hire cr troll
        2. 2. Create FUD
        3. 3. ???
        4. 4. PROFIT!
      • by Kalriath (849904)

        Stephens Media was responsible for the scumballs. MediaNews Group was just sucked in by the $ signs. And their new leader seems to be a bit of a smarter cookie than the last.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Time for the judge to pierce the veil of the LLC and make the Stephens family and all the other backer of Righthaven feel some pain. If ever there was fraud and/or misrepresentation, this is it.

    • by sconeu (64226)

      Righthaven LLC warned today it may have to file for bankruptcy because of a series of setbacks in its litigation campaign.

      Let me correct that for TFA authors.

      Righthaven LLC warned today it may have to file for bankruptcy because of a series of setbacks in its extortion campaign

  • We could only hope so.
  • by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Friday September 09, 2011 @03:08PM (#37356288)

    I thought there was some corporate shell relationship between Righthaven and MediaNews Group? So "terminating their contract" means what, exactly?

    • I thought it was specifically because there wasn't "some corporate shell relationship" between the two that RightHaven started losing all their cases. They simply didn't have the rights to sue because they were just a contractor of MediaNews and didn't own anything.

    • by Kalriath (849904)

      Not MediaNews. Stephens Media, owners of the Las Vegas Review Journal are the ones they're related to.

  • Only time I've heard of it has been on slashdot lol, nobody cares cause their lawsuits are untested and appeared illegitimate only to be proven so by the US courts.

  • I see a whole new breed of patent trolls appearing out of the new laws.
    I would be more than willing to bet the basic wheel is not patented (though more complex ones are surely under protection).
    I am just waiting for the new troll type to emerge that takes existing technology without patents and files a patent, then sues for infringement
    Since I am sure this is a novel concept, I call dibs on the wheel, I did not invent it, but I am sure no one has patented it, if so I am sure I can patent shoe laces, or
    • by idontgno (624372)

      I was going to mod you, but I think I'll be slightly more polite and just post.

      Righthaven's so-called business model is entirely about copyright. The only resemblance between this story and patent trolling is the word "troll".

      You didn't get "-1 Offtopic"d and I saved a mod point. Win-win.

    • by suutar (1860506)
      yeah, but once your case gets to the court, you'll lose on prior art. (If it makes it that far. A patent examiner might recognize the wheel and reject you.)
  • Righthaven V2 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bob9113 (14996) on Friday September 09, 2011 @03:18PM (#37356442) Homepage

    Is it possible this will finally spell Righthaven's doom?

    I don't think so. I think that the founders of Righthaven have taken one approach at mining the flaws in the copyright system that have become so apparent with the advent of the Internet. They were told, "You did not get the contract right." From Righthaven's perspective, this is nothing more nor less than new market information. They have learned one of the angles that does not work. Every startup has cases like this.

    The next step for a startup is to analyze the failure, consider alternatives, and develop a new approach. Of course, that depends on whether they have the operating capital to continue. They may have it in their war chest. If they do not, they would have to seek a new round of funding.

    Can Righthaven find some angels or VCs that would be interested? I think the answer to that is a clear, "Yes." Investors want a return on their money. Copyright enforcement has been made extremely lucrative through more than a decade of increasing strictness and penalties. That vein of cashflow exists, and is waiting to be mined. Righthaven has some existing experience in the field. Now Righthaven asks you for funding. Suppose that you believe that this kind of copyright enforcement is not wrong, or that you are antisocial; what would you decide?

    Righthaven will exist for at least as long as Darl McBride. And in the unlikely event that Righthaven itself closes its doors, a clone (or several) will rise.

    When the government creates revenue opportunities, they get mined. That is what our economic system is designed to do. The only sure solution, assuming one wishes to change the outcome, is to remove the revenue opportunity.

    • by rahvin112 (446269)

      The problem is that no one is going to transfer their copyrights to a troll. The whole point of legal trolling is to make sure the troll company is a shell with no assets in case it loses a suit. If they actually transfer the copyrights then the shell suddenly has assets, very valuable assets that could be auctioned to pay damages.

      • by Artifakt (700173)

        What about transferring assets split between several trolls, so the downside is limited? Then if one suit is successful, the next troll gets in line, or transfers more assets to the first for a subsequent round of suits, or the first hangs onto a good share of the rewards as a war chest for more lawsuits and stops depending on new capital support from the original company for a time, and various permutations on these. It shouldn't be feasible, but that's because the right to sue is by itself not worth anyth

  • NPR did a feature on them and broader patent issues. It's a pretty good listen: http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/07/26/138576167/when-patents-attack [npr.org]
  • although it seems they've managed to settle out of court in a dozen cases or so

    Hah! Wouldn't you feel like a genius if you were one of those dozen?

  • by bmo (77928) on Friday September 09, 2011 @03:58PM (#37356998)

    ...the lawyers are disbarred, the company closed, their offices destroyed, and the land salted with plutonium dust.

    Righthaven Delenda Est!

    --
    BMO

    • This should be handled legally. When a company is bankrupt the natural course of action is to liquidate the assets. Righthaven's only assets are its lawyers. Liquidate the lawyers and sell their organs to settle the debts.

    • by JSBiff (87824)

      Sally Struthers: "It doesn't take much to make a difference in these childrens lives. Just a few grams of plutonium could provide all the power that Benny, or millions of children like him, needs for his entire life."

  • by macraig (621737)

    Arresting and prosecuting the executive officers of Righthaven would be the actual end of it. As long as Sauron and Darl and Gibson still roam free, it's not an end. Sequels are likely.

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