Las Vegas copyright enforcer Righthaven LLC appears to have dramatically reduced the amount of money it will accept to settle and close a case.
Righthaven revealed in a court filing this week it agreed to settle a lawsuit over a Las Vegas Review-Journal story against Richard Rawlings and the United States Marijuana Party in Peoria, Ill., for just $1,000 — payable in 10 monthly installments of $100.
That’s a far cry from the $150,000 in statutory damages and seizure of the defendants’ website domain name that Righthaven demanded in its Sept. 8 lawsuit.
If Righthaven receives the $1,000 — and there’s some doubt about that — the suit would hardly be a money maker for Righthaven.
That’s because of its own legal expenses to research and draft the lawsuit, for registering the copyright, for court filing fees, to serve the defendants, to engage in settlement talks, to draft the settlement and then pay Review-Journal owner Stephens Media LLC its 50 percent cut of any money left over.
The $1,000 is much lower than two other publicly reported settlements from 2010, for $2,185 to be paid by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and $5,000 to be paid by an Illinois company called Odds on Racing.
Another Righthaven lawsuit defendant, North Carolina blogger Brian Hill, has complained that after Righthaven sued him without warning on Jan. 27 over a Denver Post photo, it demanded he pay $6,000 to settle his case even after learning he has disabilities, including autism.
As for Rawlings and the United States Marijuana Party, they and their attorneys have not commented on the $1,000 settlement.
But the party and its website appear to have financial issues and, according to Righthaven, the defendants have failed to make any of the $100 payments since the settlement was signed April 16.
“As such, the parties intend to file a stipulation of voluntary dismissal without prejudice on or before July 29, should the defendants fail to comply with their settlement obligations. Any such dismissal will enable Righthaven to seek enforcement of the written settlement agreement in view of defendants’ material breach of its terms,” Righthaven’s filing said.
Enforcement of the settlement agreement, however, may hinge on whether Righthaven’s standing to sue survives a multitude of challenges.
Attorneys around the country are known to be considering filing claims against Righthaven seeking to void settlements on the theory that the settlements were made with the mistaken belief that Righthaven had standing to sue.
So far, Righthaven has lost three cases on fair use grounds, two federal judges have ruled Righthaven lacks standing to sue and at least three more are threatening to do the same thing.