Stephens Media's Copyright Enforcer Righthaven Struggles

by Kate Knable  on Monday, Oct. 3, 2011 12:00 am  

In August, U.S. District Judge Philip Pro of Nevada determined that Randazza's client, Kentucky resident Wayne Hoehn, made fair use of an article from Stephens' Las Vegas Review-Journal when he shared it with an online forum last November.

Pro also ruled that "Righthaven has no meaningful rights other than the bare right to sue, something that is not transferable ... ."

Pro ordered Righthaven to pay $34,045 by Sept. 14 to cover Hoehn's attorney's fees.

Righthaven asked for time to appeal the ruling, and Pro granted the motion last week. But he also warned that Righthaven "does not enjoy a reasonable probability of success on the merits of its appeal," so he required the company to post a bond securing the judgment.

Hoehn's attorneys had hoped Pro would order the U.S. Marshals Service "to execute Hoehn's judgment through seizure of Righthaven's bank accounts, real and personal property, and intangible property rights for levy, lien, auction or other treatment appropriate for satisfaction of Hoehn's judgment."

But an attorney representing Righthaven argued the company wouldn't be able to pay the $34,000 without liquidating its assets, including "intellectual property rights to all copyrights assigned from Stephens Media" and "copyright infringement search engine software."

"If these invaluable intellectual property and proprietary assets were seized and liquidated during the appeals process, Righthaven would be irreparably harmed to such a degree that it would jeopardize its ability to continue to do business," wrote attorney Shawn Mangano of Las Vegas.

Also last week, U.S. District Judge John Kane of Colorado ruled that Righthaven had no right to sue over unauthorized use of Denver Post articles because it did not fully own the copyrights assigned by owner MediaNews Group. Kane stayed about 60 other Righthaven cases.

Even if Righthaven proves it exclusively owns the Stephens Media and MediaNews Group copyrights, the company still has not proven it sued people who transgressed, Randazza said.

"It is an ignoble and illegal enterprise, and everyone involved in it should be ashamed of themselves," Randazza said. "I don't think it had anything to do with protecting rights of authors or creators of anything. Stupid plus greed equals Righthaven."



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