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Righthaven’s appeals may continue, federal judge rules

Righthaven LLC may now be more of an “idea” than an active business, as its owner and CEO recently put it. However, it will live to fight another day in court after a federal judge rejected an attempt to have the CEO fired and the numerous copyright infringement appeals the company has filed dismissed.

We discussed the copyright litigation that Righthaven filed in our Aug. 9 blog post. The company’s main business appears to have been purchasing the copyrights of online content from the Las Vegas Review-Journal and an out-of-state newspaper. The company then filed lawsuits against people who had reposted that content — news articles, photographs and so on — on their blogs and websites without permission.

The company lost in almost all of those lawsuits. Judges in three states ruled against Righthaven on two fronts. One, the courts found that the newspapers actually retained the copyrights, meaning that Righthaven had no standing to sue. Two, some judges ruled that the defendants, frequently private individuals, were protected by the fair use exception.

By late 2011, Righthaven had essentially ceased operations, though its owner and CEO continued to pursue appeals. As defendants sought the damages awarded them, the federal court in Las Vegas appointed a receiver to take control of Righthaven’s assets and sell them to recoup cash. The assets included the now-invalidated copyrights, as well as office equipment.

But when the receiver attempted to remove the CEO, the court ruled that she had overstepped her authority. An attorney for one former defendant had argued at an Oct. 31 hearing that the receiver was appointed to have total control over the company. But the judge that appointed the receiver ruled that the receiver could not force Righthaven to drop its appeals.

Source: VEGAS INC, “Righthaven appeals to continue,” Steve Green, Oct. 31, 2012

John P. Aldrich
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