Eight more Righthaven lawsuits dismissed

Las Vegas copyright lawsuit filer Righthaven LLC struck out again in court on Thursday when a federal judge in Reno threw out eight more of its lawsuits.

Righthaven gained notoriety starting in March 2010 for filing 275 no-warning infringement lawsuits over newspaper material that had been reposted online without authorization.

Righthaven said the suits were aimed at cracking down on rampant infringement of newspaper content; critics said they were part of a scheme to use the courts to make money and that had nothing to do with protecting copyrights.

Righthaven lately has been trying to survive after a series of legal setbacks left creditors lined up trying to seize its assets.

The setbacks consisted of court rulings finding defendants were protected by fair use in online posts of newspaper material Righthaven claimed to own; or that found Righthaven lacked standing to sue over that material.

Despite Righthaven’s legal defeats, it has been hoping since last summer that either Judge Larry Hicks in Reno or Gloria Navarro in Las Vegas would revive its standing to file infringement lawsuits.

Seven other federal judges in Las Vegas, Denver and Charleston, S.C., last year and this year ruled Righthaven lacked standing to sue over material from the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Denver Post.

That’s because the newspapers maintained control of the material Righthaven was suing over, despite Righthaven’s claims it owned that material.

Two of the Nevada judges who have not yet ruled on the standing issue, Hicks and Navarro, for months have kept Righthaven waiting for a decision. Both judges are presiding over multiple Righthaven cases.

Righthaven has pleaded to both judges that after the initial rulings throwing out its suits on standing grounds, it amended its lawsuit contract with the R-J to beef up its ownership claims and therefore its standing to sue.

Hicks rejected those arguments in dismissing eight of the suits he is handling Thursday.

Like the other judges ruling on the issue, Hicks agreed case law specifies that the bare right to sue over copyright infringements can’t be assigned. He wrote in a ruling that orders by other judges against Righthaven on this issue were ''well reasoned.''

Defense attorneys say the rationale for that case law is that copyrights hold a special place in the law — protecting and encouraging freedom of speech — and shouldn’t be bartered for lawsuit purposes.

Hicks also rejected arguments that Righthaven could continue its lawsuits after amending its lawsuit contract in response to the earlier setbacks.

''Although a court may allow parties to amend defective allegations of jurisdiction, the parties are not permitted to amend the facts themselves,'' Hicks wrote in orders dismissing the lawsuits.

The suits Hicks dismissed were against the Chris Brown Web Network, Fullthrottletv.net, Wehategringos.com, Charles Coker, Gunner’s Alley LLC, Computer Services One LLC, John Kirk and Bob Sieber.

This wasn’t the first time Hicks has sided against Righthaven.

In October 2010 he became the first judge to dismiss a Righthaven lawsuit on the merits, finding a Las Vegas real estate agent was protected by the fair-use doctrine in posting part of a Review-Journal story online without authorization.

Righthaven has appealed that and other adverse rulings. So far, appeals courts in San Francisco and Denver have not ruled on its appeals.

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  1. Has to make you wonder why Righthaven has not filed BK yet.

    Could it be that if the facts come out they could be held personally responsible for these judgments?

    If any of us disregarded court orders as Righthaven has I tend to believe we would have been arrested and brought before the courts.

  2. Looks like the new revised Righthaven/Stephens Media agreement isn't holding any water either. Judges see right through it.

  3. The only real issue remaining is whether or not someone will find a way to pierce the corporate veil and go after Gibson and the Stephens Family shell company that actually own Righthaven.