Righthaven Won't Let Go, Refiles Previously Dismissed Suit

Lora Bentley

Copyright troll Righthaven is at it again. This time the company has added a new move to its repertoire, apparently in an attempt to avoid another dismissal for lack of standing. Believe it or not, this particular maneuver is harder to understand than the group's business model ever was. Bear with me.


According to Ars Technica, in June 2010, Righthaven sued a blogger who republished a Las Vegas Review Journal story on his website. This week, the court dismissed the case. As in other cases, the court decided Righthaven did not have standing because its agreement with the newspaper did not actually assign the copyright to Righthaven. The agreement purported to convey the right to sue, but that right does not exist separate from the exclusive rights granted in the copyright act.



Here's where it gets interesting. In 2011, Righthaven changed its agreement with the newspapers so that it does assign the copyrights to the stories on which Righthaven decides to sue. After that change became effective, Righthaven argued that it cured the lack of standing problem in the above mentioned case. In other words, writer Nate Anderson explained, Righthaven wanted the 2011 agreement to apply to the facts upon which it sued in 2010.


Thankfully, the court didn't buy that argument. Ars quotes the opinion as follows:

As an example, a party who misstates his domicile may amend to correctly state it. This is an amendment of the allegation. However, that party is not permitted to subsequently move in order to change his domicile and amend accordingly.


That would amount to changing the facts, the court said, which cannot be done, so the case was dismissed. But just like the person who moved could file a new lawsuit rather than amending the first one, Righthaven had that option, too. And Righthaven took advantage of it. Anderson writes:

Hours after the case was dismissed, Righthaven filed a brand new lawsuit against him over the same charge, on the grounds that this time, the amended operating agreement with Stephens Media is in force.


We'll have to wait and see if that strategy flies.

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