Commentary

Righthaven Gets Reprieve In Nevada

Copyright enforcer Righthaven caught a minor break this week when U.S. District Court Judge Philp Pro in Nevada agreed to stay an order requiring the company to reimburse defense attorneys $34,000 in a case it had lost. Pro did, however, require Righthaven to post a $34,000 bond with the court.

Earlier Pro ordered Righthaven to cough up the money by Sept. 14. Righthaven asked for a stay, noting that it might have to declare bankruptcy. Defense attorneys then filed motions asking to seize Righthaven's assets and hold the company in contempt. Pro rejected both of those defense motions earlier this week.

Of course, the fact that this most recent decision could be considered a victory shows just how badly Righthaven has been doing in court lately.

The company, which tried to tout itself as a defender of the newspaper industry, has lost cases in Nevada and Colorado on the ground that it never had the right to sue for infringement of news articles it couldn't license. Righthaven also has suffered defeats on fair-use grounds -- even where bloggers reposted articles in their entirety.

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Righthaven also was abandoned this month by one of its two major accounts -- MediaNews Group, parent of The Denver Post.

It's not surprising that MediaNews Group terminated its deal with Righthaven, given that the new CEO publicly called the lawsuit campaign a bad idea. On the contrary, what's still somewhat shocking is that any reputable newspaper thought it was a good idea to sue ordinary readers who only tried to share the papers' articles with others online.

Righthaven generally didn't target aggregators or others who made a profit by scraping stories. Instead, the company sued mom-and-pops, public interest groups, small publishers and others who had read or seen something that they thought was worth sharing. And, unlike the lawsuits by the record industry against file-sharers, the content shared by Righthaven's defendants was available for free.

Given the facts, it's understandable that judges weren't quick to embrace Righthaven's legal theories. Whether it can stay afloat given the recent losses is still to be determined.

1 comment about "Righthaven Gets Reprieve In Nevada".
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  1. Jonathan Mirow from BroadbandVideo, Inc., September 30, 2011 at 6:45 p.m.

    Bottom-feeders everywhere are shaking in their boots.

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