Five Righthaven lawsuits dismissed in Denver
21 March 2012
Copyright infringement lawsuit filer Righthaven LLC’s legal setbacks continued Tuesday with a federal judge in Denver dismissing five more of its lawsuits.
Senior U.S. District Judge John L. Kane dismissed the Las Vegas company's lawsuits alleging copyright infringement against:
• Jason Chrystal and Justus Steel
• OSM Media LLC, Nina Yablock and Bryan Preston
• Freedom Force Communications, the Say Anything blog, Scott Hennen and Rob Port
• Q Communications Inc. and Don Tuthill
• BuzzFeed Inc., Jonah Peretti and Gavon Laessig.
The dismissals were expected after the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on March 15 dismissed Righthaven’s appeal of an earlier ruling by Kane finding Righthaven lacked standing to sue over Denver Post content.
Still, Tuesday’s dismissals were noteworthy as they removed any uncertainty for the defendants as to whether their cases were still active.
The cases had been stayed while the 10th Circuit reviewed Kane’s ruling of Sept. 27 finding Righthaven lacked standing to sue over a Denver Post photo because of a flawed copyright assignment agreement with the owner of the Post.
As this group of cases was stayed, Righthaven voluntarily dismissed 27 more suits in Colorado.
In the five suits he dismissed Tuesday, Kane noted in an order that Righthaven’s appeal was dismissed and, ''accordingly, the stay in this case is lifted and Righthaven’s complaint is dismissed with prejudice.''
The ''with prejudice'' part of his ruling is significant in that it allows defendants to seek recovery of their legal fees from Righthaven, though lately Righthaven has been pleading poverty and says it has no cash.
In a sixth Righthaven case Tuesday in Colorado, Kane ordered Righthaven to show cause why its lawsuit against Andy Hwang, Jay Daniels and the Fat Brat should not be dismissed.
"According to filings by both plaintiff and defendant, the parties reached a settlement agreement in this case almost six months ago. Despite defendant’s compliance with the settlement agreement, plaintiff has failed to comply with its obligations — namely, filing a voluntary dismissal of this case,'' Kane wrote in his order.
Tuesday’s dismissals are just the latest development in what has been a disastrous month for Righthaven.
Righthaven is the copyright enforcement partner of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and formerly of the Post.
Since March 2010, it filed 275 no-warning lawsuits claiming copyrights to material from those newspapers was infringed on.
The suits said the infringements resulted from bloggers, message-board posters and website operators copying the material and reposting it online without authorization.
Eight federal judges in three states eventually ruled Righthaven lacked standing to sue because of flawed copyright assignments in which the newspapers maintained control of the material that Righthaven claimed to own and was suing over.
In four cases, defendants were cleared by the concept of fair use.
With several of the defendants winning orders requiring Righthaven to pay their legal fees, Righthaven has said it wouldn’t or couldn’t pay and is now out of cash.
That resulted in one judge this month stripping Righthaven of its intellectual property so it can be auctioned; and another threatening to fine Righthaven $500 per day for failing to comply with her order that it turn over financial information to a creditor. The creditor, Thomas DiBiase, is one of the Righthaven defendants who defeated Righthaven in court.
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