If you are a current events blogger you are likely aware of Righthaven LLC, which had the nasty habit of suing bloggers for copyright infringement. Some 275 lawsuits have been filed by Righthaven. The company has been a nightmare for bloggers, and today US. Marshals busted Righthaven for $63,000.00. See an UPDATE below.
The company earned it’s living by filing copyright infringement lawsuits against websites and bloggers without warning and often when the “Infringement” fell well within the bounds of accepted practice and fair use. In most cases it was easier and much cheaper for the website owner to settle out of court.
Borrowing a page from patent trolls, the CEO of fledgling Las Vegas-based Righthaven has begun buying out the copyrights to newspaper content for the sole purpose of suing blogs and websites that re-post those articles without permission. And he says he’s making money.
Now he’s talking expansion. The Review-Journal’s publisher, Stephens Media in Las Vegas, runs over 70 other newspapers in nine states, and Gibson says he already has an agreement to expand his practice to cover those properties. (Stephens Media declined comment, and referred inquiries to Gibson.) Hundreds of lawsuits, he says, are already in the works by year’s end. “We perceive there to be millions, if not billions, of infringements out there,” he says.
So that’s how it happened. Here’s what’s happening today:
Wayne Hoehn posted a Las Vegas Review-Journal article on a sports message board. Righthaven apparently saw it, then purchased copyright from the author “for the sole purpose of filing suit against Hoehn.” Hoehn won when his case was dismissed (two other suits were also dismissed). Righthaven was ordered to pay over $34,000 in legal bills for Hoehn. Righthaven refused, saying it would bankrupt the company.
Cheeky that! Most bloggers are not wealthy and most have little to no income from blogging, but in the end, were forced to pay-up rather than face the uncertain expense of going to court.
But today Righthaven was visited by U.S. Marshals who seized in excess of $63,000 in assets to satisfy Hoehn’s legal bills, including funds to cover the fight to receive the initial $34,000+ from Righthaven.
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 tables have turned on the copyright troll Righthaven – a company formed to sue bloggers and others for copyright violations. One of their biggest clients was the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Even though Righthaven will soon be out of business, I still won’t ever link to or quote that news organization after the way their hired guns harassed my fellow bloggers.
A cautionary note: Even if Righthaven goes away permanently, and we don’t know that they will, sooner or later, someone will figure out how to do something of this sort. Righthaven amended contracts in an effort to convince the judge of the merit of their ‘business.’ The judge still found they did not have standing, but sooner or later…
Righthaven LLC is appealing to the 9th Circus Circuit Court of Appeals, widely known as the most Liberal court in the U.S. That’s not just my opinion, the Progressives on the 9th saw 19 of their 26 decisions reversed or vacated in 2011.
UPDATE 10-4-11: The one blogger I know who was hit with a Righthaven lawsuit is Donald Douglas at American Power. He has decided to talk about his case. Read the details here.