Righthaven Struggling to Stay Afloat Amidst Judgments

Lora Bentley

Wow. Looks like I need to keep better track of what's going on with Righthaven. Leave the alleged copyright troll alone for a few months and on top of countless dismissals and spreading doubt about the validity of its business model, it now faces fines, judgments, legal fees and possible seizure of its assets.


We first found the company when I started researching content protection and copyright enforcement methods. I had already determined litigation should be the last resort , used only after every other option fails. Then I read about Righthaven and its arrangement with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Denver Post and other newspapers. It found material bloggers or others lifted from the papers, acquired right to sue to enforce the copyright, and then used the right as leverage to settle with the bloggers or nonprofits out of court.


In other words, the company immediately became my "poster child" for what not to do. And the targets that opted to take their chances in court rather than settle with the company helped to illustrate why.


The most obvious problem, pointed out by several courts hearing Righthaven cases, is that U.S. copyright law does not include a right to sue that is separate and severable from the other elements of copyright. Thus, because Righthaven itself could not demonstrate a drop in sales or circulation of the articles that were lifted, it had no standing to bring the suits.


Following those decisions, certain Righthaven defendants obtained judgments against the company for damages and legal fees. But, VegasInc reports Righthaven can't afford to pay those judgments. So at least one defendant has asked the court to seize the company's assets.


This may be the beginning of the end for the so-called copyright troll.

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