Joe Mullin at paidContent.org discusses two challenges brought by the EFF to Righthaven: that Righthaven shouldn’t be eligible for attorney’s fees, since it is a made-for-litigation business entity, and that Righthaven has no right to a turn-over of defendants’ domain names.
Posts Tagged ‘lvrj’
Righthaven has lost a copyright infringement case because of a successful fair-use defense raised at the earliest procedural opportunity. The case is Righthaven LLC v. Realty One Group, Inc., 2:10-cv-1036-LRH-PAL.
In May 2010, Michael J. Nelson, a Las Vegas realtor, posted a portion of a Las Vegas Review Journal news story about a federal housing program on his blog, www.michaeljnelson.featuredblog.com. Righthaven took a copyright assignment from the Review Journal and pounced with a federal lawsuit. Happily for bloggers everywhere, instead of caving and forking over a low-dollar-value nuisance settlement, Nelson fought back and claimed that what he did was legally protected fair use.
The court agreed.
Of key importance for the court was that Nelson copied only eight sentences of a 30-sentence story, and the portion he copied was of a factual nature, as opposed to the portion which contained the reporter’s commentary.
U.S. District Judge Larry R. Hicks made short work of the case in a four-page order.
The court found that the first fair-use factor – purpose and character of the use – weighed against Nelson because he used his blog to promote his realty business. The second factor – nature of the work – weighed in Nelson’s favor because the portion of the news article copied was factual in nature. The third factor – amount and substantiality of the portion of the copyrighted work used – weighed in favor of Nelson, the court held, since he only copied eight sentences from a total of 30 in the news story. The fourth factor – effect on the potential market – weighed in Nelson’s favor as well. Regarding this factor, the court said:
The court finds that Nelson’s use of the copyrighted material is likely to have little to no effect on the market for the copyrighted news article. Nelson’s copied portion of the Work did not contain the author’s commentary. As such, his use does not satisfy a reader’s desire to view and read the article in its entirety the author’s original commentary and thereby does not dilute the market for the copyrighted work. Additionally, Nelson directed readers of his blog to the full text of the Work. Therefore, Nelson’s use supports a finding of fair use.
That line of analysis portends very well for other bloggers sued by Righthaven.
Now I’d like to see Nelson file a motion to get attorneys’ fees.
Nelson’s case seems like a great victory for free speech and fair use, but there’s a sad postscript: As of the time I am writing this post, Nelson has removed all the content from his blog.
So Righthaven has lost, but free expression has lost too.
The bizarre Artiegate lawsuit is over. (BLB: Purr-loined Story Gets Cat Blog Sued)
Some months ago the Las Vegas Review-Journal, through its legal henchman Righthaven, sued Allegra Wong of Boston over her blog, written from the perspective of her cat, Artie, which allegedly reposted an LVRJ story about a fire at a bird sanctuary.
After bashing Wong, who is, or was, unemployed, with a claim for $75,000, Righthaven has now agreed to dismiss the matter pursuant to a confidential settlement, as reported by Steve Green in the Las Vegas Sun. (Look at the last few paragraphs of the story.)
I’m guessing that something like $20 bucks changed hands. Maybe zero. The writing was on the wall that the court was looking to give Righthaven the absolute minimum amount of damages possible.
It’s too bad that the settlement is confidential, because I can imagine it was, for Righthaven, embarrassingly low. But I’m happy for Ms. Wong and Artie.
Judge Roger L. Hunt of the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada in Las Vegas has ruled that his court has jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant in one of the Righthaven copyright infringement suits.
Righthaven is thugster ad litem for the Las Vegas Review-Journal in a campaign of no-warning copyright infringement suits filed against bloggers and others who have reposted stories or portions of stories from the newspaper.
Many Righthaven defendants were hoping to get their lawsuits dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction. With this ruling, it appears defendants will have to look to other tactics if they are to ward off Righthaven claims.
In a case against a Texas law firm, Righthaven LLC v. Dr. Shezad Malik Law Firm P.C. (Case No. 2:10-cv-0636-RLH-RJJ), Judge Hunt denied a motion to dismiss with an order employing analysis that would seem to be applicable to all Righthaven defendants:
… Defendant itself cites to a case both on point and dispositive of this issue. Applying the “effects” test of Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783 (1984), the Ninth Circuit found that where a defendant “willfully infringed copyrights owned by [the plaintiff], which, as [the defendant] knew, had its principal place of business in the Central District [of California], “[t]his fact alone is sufficient to satisfy the ‘purposeful availment’ requirement.” Columbia Pictures Television v. Krypton Broadcasting of Birmingham, Inc., 106 F.3d 284, 289 (9th Cir. 1994). It is common knowledge that the Las Vegas Review Journal newspaper is published and distributed in Las Vegas, Nevada by the party which assigned the copyrights together with the right to seek redress for past, present and future infringements. Accordingly, this Court has jurisdiction over Defendant, based upon the allegations of the Complaint.
Steve Green reported the decision in the Las Vegas Sun.
Steve Green of the Las Vegas Sun reports that the Las-Vegas Review Journal, via its plaintiff stand-in, Righthaven, has sued the Nevada Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, Sharron Angle, for reproducing material from LVRJ newspaper stories on her website. Angle is running against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
The lawsuit seeks $150,000 in damages plus the surrendering of the candidate’s domain name, sharronangle.com.
This shows you how far Righthaven and the Las Vegas Review-Journal have strayed from ordinary, civil behavior. This is a newspaper we are talking about, suing a candidate for office. And not just that, but suing that candidate because of the content of her communications to the public.
If Angle is forced to give up her domain name and cough up $150K in damages, that could easily be the difference in a closely contested election. (And apparently, the race is currently close.)
What happened to reporting on the story, not becoming part of it?
There is some indication that the Review-Journal, which previously used Righthaven to file a lawsuit against the Nevada Democratic Party, was bowing to pressure to be more non-partisan in its carpet-bombing litigation activities. Steve Friess, a blogger and columnist for a rival media outlet, the Las Vegas Weekly, used a series of screenshots on his blog to document Angle’s copious borrowing, egging the Review-Journal on. Friess doubled the dare by calling R-J publisher Sherman R. Frederick and chief editor Thomas Mitchell “full-throated Sharron Angle supporters and Ahab-like Harry Reid haters.”
“Righthaven must sue,” Friess wrote. “It took effort to find the cat blogger, but this one was on a major candidate’s site, there in plain sight. If they don’t sue Angle, they provide dozens of infringers with a clear example of the company’s inconsistency in defending its copyright.”
So now they’ve sued.
But in my view, filing the complaint really doesn’t prove much. The real question is how aggressively will Righthaven pursue the case?
The plaintiff-side lawyering in this case could actually make a big difference in how the Senate race plays out. As a tea-party candidate coming from outside the Republican mainstream, running against a powerful incumbent, Angle is already at a disadvantage in terms of cash and political allies. That makes her website and what money she has all that much more important to her. The attorneys fees in defending against Righthaven could significantly affect her ability to buy television ad time and otherwise get her message out. And during campaign season, every day and every dollar counts.
That means that Righthaven/LVRJ has much more leverage in this litigation than they do in most of their lawsuits, which have been settling for pennies-on-the-dollar nuisance-value amounts. Will the Review-Journal and Righthaven pull punches and sit on the complaint without turning up the heat in court? Or will they move things along procedurally and use their leverage to demand a big payoff?
Here are some more questions: Is it fair for Righthaven/LVRJ to use the leverage that exists because of the tempo of the campaign? Is it fair for them not to?
This is a real mess. From the perspective of integrity and the public trust, I think this is a very sorry position for a newspaper to be in. The Review-Journal never should have involved itself in the Righthaven scheme. I wonder if that is dawning on them now.
Here’s evidence that Righthaven’s shoot-first/shoot-everybody/shoot-often style of copyright enforcement is chilling bloggers out of their fair use rights:
Since Righthaven Inc. may be watching, I’m not going to blockquote any of this story from the Las Vegas Review-Journal (LVRJ). According to the report …
I’ve done several posts about the Righthaven lawsuits, but I haven’t really set forth my opinion, though you may have divined one. I go on the record here:
I think what the Las Vegas Review-Journal and its thugster stooge Righthaven are doing is completely obnoxious. It reeks. It also makes the Las Vegas Review-Journal look like a pack of feral alley dwellers instead of an earnest news organization that is deserving of the public trust.
That being said, the suits are not frivolous. There are some legal issues to contend with, but Righthaven has the upper hand in these lawsuits. The first thing that jumps out to most people is fair use. Fair use is the great pressure-relief valve on our system of copyright law. Fair use frequently comes to the rescue when someone tries to employ copyright law in an unfair and harsh way. But not this time. Reposting an entire story from a newspaper on the internet, as a general matter, is just not fair use. I can imagine, hypothetically, circumstances where reposting an entire newspaper story would be fair use, but such circumstances would be very rare. The fact of the matter is, reposting whole newspaper stories is conduct that infringes copyright, and it’s generally actionable. Copyright law makes it easy for copyright holders to sue over minor transgressions. That’s the reality.
That being said, there’s nothing virtuous about Righthaven suing everyone and anyone they can without warning and without any modicum of amiability. As you go through life, you are constantly collecting opportunities to sue people. If you wanted to, you could file a stream of lawsuits for trespass, battery, and breach of contract against a variety of people with whom you have relatively normal dealings. Our system of civil law – and our system of criminal law, for that matter – work relatively well because people and businesses at all levels of society exercise considerable restraint in deciding whether or not to go to court.
Filing federal lawsuits against frightened individual bloggers who are without significant legal or financial resources, and doing so without any attempt whatsoever to resolve the dispute informally, is deplorable behavior. That would apply to anyone. But for a newspaper to do it is abhorrent.
Righthaven’s business plan is based around taking advantage of the law to do something the law itself never contemplated. I’ll give them this: Righthaven’s entrepreneurial angle is unique. But there’s nothing clever about it. Righthaven and its associated newspapers are on the cutting edge because they have stooped lower than anyone else in the news business has been willing to go. That’s nothing to be proud of.
Searching for news on Righthaven on Google a couple days ago, I was greeted with a keyword ad from the Las Vegas law firm of Lewis and Roca, who is looking for some of the ever-expanding multitude of Righthaven defendants to come on as clients. Lewis & Roca’s landing page says:
Lewis and Roca has represented defendants in a substantial number of the cases filed by Righthaven to date in settlement negotiations and litigation. Lewis and Roca has formed a team to handle these cases in an efficient and effective manner.
Today, from the Las Vegas Sun:
Some targets of Righthaven lawsuits fighting back, by Steve Green
Righthaven’s claims don’t appear to be so cut and dried. The defense attorneys and some defendants without attorneys are making complex legal arguments about whether the Nevada court has jurisdiction over the out-of-state defendants, whether Righthaven itself has standing to sue and whether Righthaven failed to follow the law in filing no-warning lawsuits rather than first sending requests or takedown orders …
The Armed Citizen, a pro-gun-rights blog, has been one of the defendants targeted in the Las Vegas Review-Journal / Righthaven lawsuits. The Armed Citizen’s take on it is here: Lawsuit Update. They have also uploaded a document listing Righthaven lawsuits since March [PDF]. The Armed Citizen tallies 81 so far.
TechDirt on Righthaven: RightHaven Ramping Up Its Copyright Trolling Business.
The latest Righthaven / Review Journal copyfighting news dispatch out of Glitter Gulch: Las Vegas Sun – “R-J mob source hit with copyright suit.”
This time the Las Vegas Review-Journal, through their copyright enforcer Righthaven, is taking on mob-enforcer-turned-federal-witness Anthony Fiato.
The allegation is that Fiato reposted Review-Journal reports about Las Vegas organized crime on his personal blog. The complaint against Fiato was filed yesterday in Nevada federal court.
All this despite the fact that Fiato was a source for LVRJ columnist John L. Smith. Fiato was even the subject of a book by Smith.
Righthaven is demanding $75,000 from Fiato. But maybe Fiato will make Righthaven an offer they can’t refuse …
Such as a lowball nuisance-value settlement.
The Las Vegas Sun reports in the same story that Righthaven accepted a $5,000 settlement offer from Odds on Racing, a horse racing news website sued previously over an allegedly reposted Review-Journal column.
Here’s my question: How do you serve a summons on someone in the witness protection program?