9/23/11

Righthaven RIP: Assets Being Seized, Rumors of Righthaven Bankruptcy Roam the Web

Righthaven's going down, and going down fast:  today the news is that creditors are seizing assets of Righthaven, Inc. - the company that struck fear into many a blogger's heart as it filed copyright infringement lawsuits throughout Nevada and other states (South Carolina, Colorado) without so much as a cease and desist notice letter.

Righthaven is reported to be considering bankruptcy even as I type this. 

There's more.  Attorney Todd Kincannon is reportedly mounting a class action lawsuit against Righthaven, Inc. If you believe that you may have been harmed by the actions of Righthaven, Inc., then Mr. Kincannon wants to chat with you.

What did Righthaven do?  It bought the copyrights from various media sites and then sued websites and blogs for violation of federal copyright laws  (see my July 2010 post for details, "Profiting from Copyright Infringement - New Vegas Company Sues Bloggers After Buying Media Copyrights.")

What happened next?  After over 250 of these suits were filed (some reports are that they've filed over 275 cases), federal judges started acting.  The suits were blown out of court for things like standing problems.  (See, "Righthaven's Days May Be Numbered: Federal Judges Are Ruling Against Standing and More.")

And, Righthaven started losing cases.  In the asset seizure making news now, Righthaven defendant Wayne Hoehn is seeking to enforce a federal court order that orders Righthaven to pay Mr. Hoehn $34,000 as reimbursement of the legal fees that he had to pay to defend himself against their copyright lawsuit.

Righthaven whined to the federal judge, the Honorable Philip Pro of the United States District Court for the District of Nevada, asking him to stay the award because having to pay Mr. Hoehn right now might force Righthaven into bankruptcy.  Judge Pro was not swayed; the order stands.

So, right now, federal marshalls will be executing on Righthaven assets to meet that $34,000 award and Righthaven may be filing a bankruptcy petition (where the automatic stay might temporarily stop the marshalls).

For all things Righthaven, check out the excellent website that is monitoring all this:  RighthavenLawsuits.

Does this mean no more copyright infringement suits?  I doubt it.  I don't know that "copyright trolls" will have a big future - but those that own the copyrights are free to sue for federal copyright law violations.  Righthaven was acting as a middleman, in a way: buying those rights and then suing based upon them.

Take out Righthaven, what have you got?  No more middleman.  If it is cost-effective to sue for copyright violations, then owners will do so.  Maybe Righthaven's aftermath will be that they will be more inclined to file.
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