A federal judge in Colorado today said there are serious questions about the validity of the Righthaven LLC/Denver Post copyright infringement lawsuits there, and he put them all on hold.
Senior U.S. District Judge John Kane in Denver said in orders filed in the cases that because of challenges to Las Vegas-based Righthaven’s standing to sue there over Denver Post material, he wants to resolve that issue before proceeding.
"Because there are serious questions as to whether my exercise of subject matter jurisdiction over Righthaven’s claim of copyright infringement is proper, I think it most prudent to stay the proceedings in all pending cases in this district in which Righthaven is the named plaintiff," Kane wrote in an order filed today. "Should I find that I lack subject matter jurisdiction over Righthaven’s claim of copyright infringement, it is likely that I will be required to dismiss all pending actions. A stay will best conserve the parties’ and the court’s resources pending resolution of this fundamental inquiry."
Of the 57 suits there, 22 have been settled or voluntarily dismissed under undisclosed terms. The other 35 are pending. In all, Righthaven has filed 274 lawsuits since March 2010 in Nevada, Colorado and South Carolina over content from the Post and the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
One of the cases to be put on hold is a class-action counterclaim filed against Righthaven this week.
Kane said the main case in which he’ll rule on the jurisdiction issue is that of Righthaven defendant Leland Wolf (itmakessenseblog.com), who was sued over a Denver Post TSA pat-down photo.
Wolf’s attorneys this week filed briefs saying that based on Righthaven’s lawsuit contract with Review-Journal owner Stephens Media LLC, it’s lawsuit contract with the Post is likely similar.
Their view of the contract is that it doesn’t give Righthaven standing to sue – a view Righthaven disagrees with. The Nevada federal judges hearing Righthaven cases on that issue haven’t issued final rulings. One Nevada judge, James Mahan, has said the contract apparently does not give Righthaven standing to sue.
“Righthaven very likely is neither the owner nor exclusive holder of any rights in the copyrighted work underlying this lawsuit. As such, Righthaven has suffered no injury or other cognizable harm required for it to have standing. Absent this very basic requirement of standing, there is no subject matter jurisdiction in this case, and this court must immediately dismiss the case,” attorneys for Wolf said in a filing this week.
His attorneys filed a motion to conduct discovery so they can see the lawsuit contract between Righthaven and the Post, writing, “obtaining Righthaven’s agreement with (Denver Post owner) MediaNews group is the fastest route to disposing of this lawsuit.”
Wolf is represented by Denver attorney Andrew J. Contiguglia and attorneys with Randazza Legal Group’s Las Vegas office.