Put them out of “business”

Matthew Hoy
By Matthew Hoy on June 16, 2011

Earlier this week a Nevada judge took aim at Righthaven, a shakedown outfit law firm that has contracted with various newspapers to sue bloggers who do nothing more than quote articles under the doctrine of “fair use.”

U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt of Nevada ordered Righthaven to explain why Hunt should not sanction it for trying to “manufacture standing.” Standing is a legal concept that has enabled Righthaven to bring 200-plus lawsuits on behalf of the copyrights owned by news agency Stephens Media of Las Vegas.

“The court believes that Righthaven has made multiple inaccurate and likely dishonest statements to the court,” (.pdf) Hunt wrote.

In all its lawsuits, Righthaven, which uses a loophole in copyright law to sue blogs and others for infringement, claims ownership of the copyright material even though judge Hunt found that it is not the real owner.

Judge Hunt’s diatribe was in a ruling in which he said Righthaven did not have standing to bring a copyright lawsuit against the Democratic Underground blog for allegedly pilfering four paragraphs from a 34-paragraph story published by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which is owned by Stephens Media. The judge suggested Righthaven never had standing because a “copyright owner cannot assign a bare right to sue.”

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the recent history of newspaper companies, Stephens Media used to be called Donrey—the newspaper company that owned the first two papers that I worked for. When I say worked for, I mean slaved at for wages that would not appear to require a college degree. After completing my first year there, I got my first raise: $0.24 an hour.

If they were to cease as a going concern, I would not shed a tear.


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June 2011



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