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Judge throws out 2 more Righthaven copyright lawsuits

Two more Righthaven LLC newspaper copyright infringement lawsuit defendants can rest easier this holiday weekend after a judge dismissed their cases Friday.

The cases against Peter Ashton and Kathleen Peddle were dismissed by U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt in Las Vegas after Righthaven failed to show the defendants had been served in time.

The dismissals were without prejudice, meaning Righthaven can attempt to sue both of them again over the same alleged infringements.

These lift to 13 the number of Righthaven dismissals for lack of service since July 20 — and more may be in the works.

Righthaven has disputed suggestions it’s purposefully not serving defendants because its litigation campaign is stalled over questions about whether it has standing to sue over Las Vegas Review-Journal and Denver Post material.

Shawn Mangano, an attorney for Righthaven, said Friday the dismissals for lack of service can be attributed to Righthaven’s inability to locate the defendants.

One of the defendants in Righthaven’s 275 lawsuits who hasn’t been served, Greg Stocks in Baltimore, disputes that.

Stocks has pointed out to two of the Nevada judges that Righthaven has his current address on file — as that’s the address listed on Righthaven’s summons for him in court records.

Yet Righthaven has not only not served him with the summons, it hasn’t provided him with sanctions information it was supposed to provide all defendants in open Righthaven cases over R-J material, Stocks said.

Stocks, who has a blog called lawmedconsultant.com, said he filed a motion Friday in his case — the service deadline — called “motion to dismiss with prejudice for failure to serve the complaint, willful deception and failure to comply with a judicial order.”

A dismissal with prejudice would mean Righthaven could not sue Stocks again over the same alleged infringement.

“Since the (sanctions) documents Judge Hunt ordered to be provided contained material and damaging probative content to their lawsuits, current and future, Righthaven had a vested interest in not supplying it to non-served defendants whose cases, though dismissed eventually for failure to timely serve, might be resurrected under new complaints in the future,” Stocks’ filing said.

Righthaven has not yet responded to these assertions.

As for Righthaven’s standing to sue, the judges in Las Vegas, Reno, Denver and Charleston, S.C., handling Righthaven lawsuits haven’t yet issued final rulings on that issue.

But two Nevada judges have expressed skepticism about whether Righthaven can sue over R-J material based on the most recent amendments to the Righthaven/R-J lawsuit contract.

Four judges have ruled that the problem with the Righthaven lawsuits over R-J material under previous versions of the contract is that it left the R-J in control of the copyrighted material at issue, contradicting Righthaven’s claims of ownership.

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  1. It's getting to the point that if Righthaven says something you can make book on the opposite being the case. Stocks' assertions seem pretty damning if factual.

    Stocks' request for a dismissal with prejudice seems to be reasonable for the reasons given and just might fly.

  2. The motion, which is mine, can be viewed here:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/63839561

    It is 'in the mail' and should appear in PACER, and on Mangano's desk. at the beginning of the week.

  3. And, Mr. Mangano's assertion "the dismissals for lack of service can be attributed to Righthaven's inability to locate the defendants" is a blatant and bold faced lie. Each defendant in question has a summons filed with the clerk with their full address on it. NO SUMMONS in the dismissed for lack of service cases that I can find has been returned for inability to effect service. In other words, no attempts were ever made.

    Many of the cases have multiple defendants. Yet, coincidentally, Righthaven has 'not been able' to locate ANY of the defendants ....not some of them...but ALL the defendants in each case. And there are a lot of them. Oddly enough, the number of such cases EXPLODED this summer after the rulings on standing which left unserved cases an albatross around the neck of the copyright troll. 13 since July 20th with many more qualifying already and at least 5 more by Monday.

    Despite having the added assistance of domain name registration information for each website, still Righthaven would have the court believe that they are the single most incompetent defendant finding plaintiff in the industrialized world. This was addressed at length in my Affidavit to the court last month:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/62797593

  4. LawMed,

    What happens if your attempt to serve via first class mail fails for some reason, or Mangano simply asserts he never received it? I would think you would have sent it registered mail at the very least.

    For that matter, what is the time limit for you to effect service?

  5. botfx~

    Service of a motion is commonly effected by regular US mail (or fax, or even email in the case of electronic filing with the court) as stated in the Fed. Rules of Civ. Proc. If a party later contends they never received the document they can motion the court for more time to answer, or if the motion was acted upon as a default for a rehearing after they have had a chance to answer. There is no time limit per se for me to effect service other than knowing the court's practice of eventually taking action to dismiss the case on its own due to lack of service of the complaint.

    Service is considered completed when the item is placed in the mail.

    Claiming "I never got it" merely delays the inevitable.

  6. Maybe I am misunderstanding this whole Righthaven thing......but it makes me sick that Righthaven is filing these lawsuits simply for profit....not to protect any intellectual rights.

    In my opinion, this makes them no better than the driver who stops in front of you in order to cause an accident....and then sues you.

  7. botfx Your argumnet is lacking in facts and standing. There still must be some proof that a defendant was LEGALLY served. If the plaintiff or thier attorneys are deceptive about this issue, then the inevitable will happen.

  8. homer,

    I'm not sure what argument you are referring to. I am using conditional language based upon information in the article. Ultimately it is up to the judge to determine what the facts are in this.

    My second post was after I read the motion filed by Stocks. I'm not disputing Stocks' act of serving Righthaven, I'm just curious about what constitutes service and what burden of proof there was. Given that Stocks' argument for dismissal with prejudice is predicated upon a lack of service it seems a bit ironic that RH will have the chance to say the same thing as a delaying tactic. :)

    To my untrained eye, Stocks makes a compelling argument in his motion with the supporting exhibits. I would think that if it is granted the State Bar would have to take notice since it would be the second time within a short time period that RH would have been hit with sanctions.

  9. VegasFireGuy,

    I share your feelings on this. What makes it even worse, in my opinion, is that these cases have resulted in a weakening of legitimate copyright protection with at least two rulings now saying that even though entire articles were copied the action was protected by fair use.

  10. I'm astounded by the number of "lawyers" commenting here. However, more so about the fact that not a single commenter has suggested how to revise the copyright law, or how newspapers might better inform their readers not to post complete articles (perhaps I've missed those). Now, I'm not a fan of Sherm Frederick, by any stretch of the imagination, or his tactics or editorial polity. However, there does need to be a rational solution for all of this. There, after all, some good reporters at the RJ, though I'm disappointed that none apparently stood up to this policy.

    It's much like my Dad used to tell me when I protested Vietnam after being there: What's the rational and implementable solution?

  11. Mangano is a lying piece of pond scum.

    It's high time that the Righthaven attorneys be held accountable for showing federal judges nothing but contempt.

    I don't care how many girlfriends Mangano has in Vegas, this low-life should be disbarred, and hit with sanctions personally.

  12. The "rational and implementable solution" is to rule that Righthaven does not possess the exclusive rights to copyrights.

    Oh, right; that's what is happening.

  13. boftx~ As a point of clarification, the requirements for service of the complaint and for my motion are very different. The complaint itself must be served with a summons, in person by a human, either to the defendant themselves or a responsible adult at their address. Proof of service is then returned to the Clerk of the Court and entered into the docket.

    For a motion, a signed statement (i.e. "Certification of Service") describing the document, the parties served, and the manner of service suffices and regular US Mail is the common avenue. Service is considered effected as soon as the item is dropped in the mail. generally the served party is given 3 additional days when served by mail for the time limit for a response to begin to run.