Third judge rejects R-J copyright suit arrangement
13 July 2011
Efforts by the Las Vegas Review-Journal and copyright enforcer Righthaven LLC to revive their lawsuit campaign sustained another setback today when a third federal judge ruled Righthaven has no standing to sue over R-J material.
U.S. District Judge Kent Dawson dismissed a Righthaven lawsuit filed last year against Dean Mostofi in Potomac, Md.
Previously, U.S. District Judges Roger Hunt and Philip Pro dismissed Righthaven lawsuits on the standing issue, with Pro throwing in a fair use ruling against Righthaven as well.
Judges dismissing Righthaven copyright cases say case law requires plaintiffs in infringement lawsuits to have exclusive control of the copyrights they sue over. In the Righthaven cases, the three judges have found Stephens Media LLC – which receives 50 percent of Righthaven lawsuit revenue after costs – maintained control of the copyrights.
Two more federal judges in Nevada and one in Colorado are also threatening to dismiss Righthaven lawsuits over Review-Journal and Denver Post material.
In today’s ruling, Dawson rejected the first set of amendments Righthaven and Stephens Media made to their lawsuit contract in May. The contract is called the Strategic Alliance Agreement (SAA). In this case, a second set of amendments unveiled this month apparently weren’t presented to Dawson before his ruling.
"Here, plaintiff and Stephens Media attempt to impermissibly amend the facts to manufacture standing. Therefore, the court shall not consider the amended language of the SAA, but the actual assignment and language of the SAA as it existed at the time the complaint was filed," Dawson wrote in his ruling.
"Because the SAA prevents plaintiff from obtaining any of the exclusive rights necessary to maintain standing in a copyright infringement action and because plaintiff fails to sufficiently allege an assignment of rights from Stephens Media to plaintiff, the court finds that plaintiff lacks standing in this case," Dawson ruled.
Dawson hasn’t indicated when he’ll rule on other Righthaven cases he is presiding over, but his ruling Wednesday would indicate they may be dismissed as well.
Mostofi has been outspoken among the Righthaven defendants, calling the no-warning lawsuit filer a "schoolyard bully" in one of his recent court filings.
The ruling Wednesday came after Dawson earlier this year rejected a Mostofi dismissal motion based on jurisdictional grounds.
That was before the Righthaven/Stephens Media lawsuit contract was unsealed.
In all, Righthaven has filed 274 lawsuits over Review-Journal and Post material since March 2010.
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