Every once in a while, it’s a great day in the copyfight. And now that pay-up-or-else law firm Righthaven, LLC is going belly up, this is one such day.
You might remember Righthaven as the scheming ne’er-do-wells I wrote about before. They’re the ones who scour the Web for reposts of news stories, and then they would contact the news organization, buy the content, and then sue for infringement. What’s a daily pub care if someone pirates their week-old content? Not much, so they naturally were keen on selling content to Righthaven.
Righthaven had no intention of fighting the supposed good fight: that is, STOPPING copyright infringement. They wanted sites to infringe so they could sue them. Nowadays that means sending a pay-up-or-else notice rife with legalese and crossing their fingers that the suit never made it to court.
Well, some did, and it seems that there are still some judges out there with sense enough to not only laugh at such antics, but also to hold Righthaven to their threats. As it turned out, Righthaven often DIDN’T EVEN OWN THE COPYRIGHT, but simply claimed they did to extort a settlement. This happened enough times to result in a few losses, and build up quite a bill for Righthaven. Here’s where it gets fun.
A Las Vegas judge ordered that Righthaven surrender its interest in the more than 200 copyrights they owed. The irony is that Righthaven insisted they had no assets to cover the almost $200,000 in court costs they racked up over four losses in court, and yet this assertion flies in the face of the supposed value of intellectual property. How indeed can vampires like Righthaven file million-dollar lawsuits for infringement when the practical value of their own copyright holdings can’t even cover their court fees?
In a lovely twist, Righthaven doesn’t even have its trademark anymore, so I suppose I should more accurately refer to them as “the lichen formerly known as Righthaven” though that’s not terribly catchy.
The important take-away here is that it is worthwhile and vital that more people stand up to these predatory legal practices, because it’s obvious that few indeed have a legal leg to stand on. They buckle under the slightest scrutiny, and while it may seem easier and cheaper to acquiesce and simply pay the few thousand dollars to make such filth go away (regardless of guilt or innocence, harm or complete lack of harm), the more people and businesses stand up to these schemes, the less effective they become.