Righthaven's Assets Made Vulnerable

Pardon our interest in Righthaven LLC of Las Vegas, the “copyright defender” whose business plan has backfired. The most recent development: A federal judge gave a Righthaven target permission to start seizing assets, a development that could push Righthaven into bankruptcy.

Righthaven once worked with Arkansas-owned Stephens Media to track down unlawful users of the company’s copyrighted material online. Stephens Media was an early investor in Righthaven, which initiated hundreds of lawsuits against online re-users of articles published by Stephens’ Las Vegas Review-Journal and by MediaNews Group’s Denver Post.

Thus far, Righthaven hasn’t won a single case that went to court. One of those losses was in its complaint against Kentucky resident Wayne Hoehn. In June, U.S. District Judge Philip Pro of Nevada ruled that Hoehn’s online posting of a Review-Journal article was fair use of that article and Righthaven did not have the right to sue on Stephens’ behalf. Fair use is a legal doctrine that permits the publication of someone else’s copyrighted work, generally when only excerpts are republished and the source is properly credited.

Pro also ordered Righthaven to pay Hoehn’s $63,720 in attorneys’ fees, plus interest. But payment deadlines came and went, and on Nov. 1 Pro gave Hoehn permission to seize Righthaven’s assets to satisfy the judgment.

Righthaven’s attorney, Shawn Mangano of Las Vegas, claimed in September that paying Hoehn would force the business into bankruptcy. Righthaven founder Steve Gibson could not be reached for comment.

But Marc Randazza, the Las Vegas attorney representing Hoehn, still thinks Righthaven can pay.

“When a federal judge tells you to pay, you’re supposed to pay. If you don’t, it isn’t pretty,” he said. “We believe they have assets.”