Four more Righthaven cases dismissed as auction continues
28 December 2011
VEGAS INC Coverage
As the auction for its website domain name continues this week, copyright lawsuit filer Righthaven LLC of Las Vegas is struggling with additional problems.
In Righthaven’s latest setbacks, one of its appeals was dismissed Wednesday while Nevada judges this month dismissed three of its pending lawsuits. These dismissals were all for procedural reasons after Righthaven didn’t meet court-set deadlines.
The company since March 2010 has filed 275 no-warning lawsuits over alleged copyright infringements involving online newspaper content.
It’s been struggling with dismissals by seven judges of Righthaven lawsuits on their merits since October 2010.
The judges found Righthaven didn’t have standing to sue over content from the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Denver Post, or that defendants were protected by the concept of fair use in using that content without the prior OK from the newspapers.
Because of the legal setbacks, Righthaven says it’s been unable to pay court-ordered judgments totaling $216,355 in favor of defendants who prevailed against Righthaven. That money would reimburse them for their legal expenses.
One of those defendants, Wayne Hoehn, is owed $63,720 and a judge authorized a receiver to auction Righthaven’s intellectual property so that Hoehn could recover some of the money he is owed. The receiver has been authorized to auction Righthaven’s copyrights it uses for lawsuit purposes, its trademark and its website domain name.
So far, only the domain name is up for auction. The high bid for the righthaven.com name stood at $1,900 Wednesday evening, with the auction set to continue through Jan. 6.
And this month, Righthaven’s inventory of active lawsuits has been reduced by four because of procedural problems.
On Wednesday, the clerk’s office at the 9th U.S Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco dismissed one of Righthaven’s seven appeals in that court of adverse rulings by Nevada federal judges.
Wednesday’s dismissal involved Righthaven’s lawsuit against British citizen Garry Newman.
U.S. District Judge James Mahan in Las Vegas threw out the lawsuit Oct. 7, finding Righthaven didn’t have standing to sue Newman, who is associated with the website facepunch.com and had been sued over an R-J story involving the Vdara hotel “death ray.”
After Righthaven appealed the dismissal, the 9th Circuit’s clerks office on Dec. 2 noted Righthaven had failed to file a required questionnaire involving whether the case could be resolved through mediation. The company was given seven days to comply.
When Righthaven failed to comply, the court gave it an additional seven days to do so on Dec. 14.
With Righthaven still not in compliance on Wednesday, a court clerk dismissed the appeal — causing at least one defense attorney to remark that this isn’t the first time Righthaven has been found to be in violation of court rules.
"Righthaven seems to invent new and interesting ways to display incompetence almost every day,” added Techdirt.com commentator Mike Masnick.
A request for comment was placed with Righthaven.
And earlier this month, Nevada judges dismissed three Righthaven lawsuits dating to July 2010 because the defendants were not served by the federal court deadline.
These lawsuits, all involving Review-Journal material were against:
--TZ Holdings LLC, Robert J. Zumbrunnen and Peter Dierks
--David Williams-Pinkney and Collegestarters
Because of these and earlier dismissals and settlements, Righthaven’s active lawsuit inventory has been reduced to 52 cases in Nevada, six in Colorado and one in South Carolina.
A motion for dismissal is pending in the South Carolina case; and the Colorado cases likely are headed for dismissal as well unless the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals revives Righthaven’s standing to sue over Denver Post content.
With the Nevada lawsuits stalled by prior rulings against Righthaven, Righthaven has been hoping one of the Nevada federal judges would rule it has standing to sue under its revised lawsuit contract with the Review-Journal. Righthaven says the new contract unquestionably gives it standing to sue — an argument defense attorneys dispute.
Such a ruling for Righthaven — or a favorable ruling by the 9th Circuit — may make the 52 open cases in Nevada valuable to Righthaven as it could then pressure the defendants to settle for a few thousand dollars apiece.
Otherwise, those cases are likely headed toward dismissal.
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