Righthaven hit with second marshals writ for seizure of assets
16 April 2012
Las Vegas copyright lawsuit filer Righthaven LLC may be broke, but that’s not stopping defense attorneys from trying to seize any assets it may have.
A judge in Denver on Friday signed a writ of execution requested by defense attorneys and requiring the U.S. Marshals Service to seize Righthaven’s bank accounts, property and intellectual property rights.
The property is to be seized for the benefit of Righthaven creditor Leland Wolf of the It Makes Sense Blog, who defeated Righthaven in one of Righthaven’s copyright lawsuits.
Wolf’s attorneys know Righthaven is claiming to no longer have any cash or assets after a series of courtroom defeats sustained by the copyright holding company.
They also know that an earlier writ of execution against Righthaven’s bank accounts and property issued in Nevada was ineffective.
Still, they sought and received the Colorado writ and plan to use it.
“We’re beginning collection activities in Colorado,” said Andrew Contiguglia, one of the attorneys representing Wolf with the law firm Contiguglia/Fazzone P.C. in Denver.
Contiguglia said that to determine whether Righthaven has assets that can be seized to cover Wolf’s costs, those collection activities could include a request that the Colorado federal court require a Righthaven representative to appear in Denver for a debtor’s examination — court-supervised questioning — and that Righthaven be required to produce financial information.
Righthaven is the copyright enforcement partner of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and formerly of the Denver Post.
Beginning in March 2010, it filed 275 no-warning lawsuits alleging copyright infringement and claiming material from those newspapers was posted elsewhere online without authorization.
Righthaven eventually shut down after judges found it lacked standing to sue because of flawed copyright assignments from the newspapers and, in some cases, because defendants were protected by the concept of fair use in using newspaper content without authorization.
After beating back the Righthaven suit against him when Righthaven was found to lack standing to sue him over a Denver Post photo,
Wolf won a judgment for $33,148 in attorney’s fees. That’s now grown to $35,394 with interest.
The writ of execution was requested by Wolf’s attorneys after Righthaven couldn’t or wouldn’t pay the $35,394.
In his order Friday, Senior U.S. District Court Judge John L. Kane said any property seized by the marshals could then be auctioned or subjected to levies and liens or “other treatment appropriate for satisfaction of defendants’ (Wolf’s) judgment.”
In one of its Nevada lawsuits over an R-J column against message board poster Wayne Hoehn, the first marshals writ against Righthaven, for $63,000, was issued Nov. 1.
A federal judge later reduced that writ to $34,045. Collection efforts by marshals armed with the writ last year were believed to have located less than $1,000 in Righthaven’s main bank account.
But additional debt collection efforts in the Hoehn case appear to have contributed to Righthaven’s demise as they led to an order that Righthaven’s intellectual property — including its website and its interest in the copyrights it sues over — be forfeited to Hoehn. A receiver later seized and auctioned Righthaven’s website for $3,300.
Without owning copyrights, Righthaven was left with nothing to sue over and couldn’t pursue appeals of its legal setbacks, attorneys in the Hoehn case said.
Before Judge Philip Pro ordered Righthaven’s interests in its federal copyright registrations to be forfeited to a receiver in the Hoehn case, it was unclear whether those registrations had any value.
That’s because judges earlier ruled Righthaven lacked standing to sue over those registrations.
Righthaven later appealed several of those adverse rulings, but lately appears to have abandoned the appeals amid indications it’s broke.
In all, Righthaven couldn’t or wouldn’t pay $188,927 in attorney’s fees in the cases of Wolf, Hoehn and former federal prosecutor Thomas DiBiase.
Last week, attorneys for the Democratic Underground hit Righthaven and Review-Journal owner Stephens Media LLC with the biggest fee demand to date in the Righthaven litigation, for $774,000.
Righthaven hasn’t yet responded to Friday’s writ issued in Denver, and it and Stephens Media have not yet responded to the Democratic Underground fee request.
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