A company called Righthaven LLC has been very busy filing lawsuits on behalf of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Denver Post based on a claim that others are stealing published information from the papers, which supposedly amounts to copyright infringement. At last count, Righthaven has filed a total of 275 lawsuits without providing any advance warning to the purported infringers. A lot of people believe that Righthaven is taking a page out of the playbook of pornographic film studios, using scare tactics to elicit multiple small settlements which eventually add up to a nice sum of money.
Recently, U.S. District Court Judge Phillip Pro ruled in favor of a defendant, stating that the person’s usage amounted to a fair use of the newspaper content. Righthaven has suffered three defeats on fair use grounds, alone. Further, Pro is the 2nd Nevada federal judge who stated that Righthaven did not have standing to sue over material that was printed in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Even though the Review-Journal apparently transferred its control of its copyright to Righthaven, Pro found that Righthaven did not have exclusive control of the copyright, which is what is needed to have standing in such a case.
Now Righthaven may be sued for misleading the court by saying that it owns the copyrights it has been suing over when that may not have been accurate. Righthaven has already been fined $5,000 in a sanction by a U.S. District Judge based on non-disclosure of Stephens Media as an interested party in lawsuits concerning Review-Journal material. Stephens Media LLC owns the Review Journal. It also is entitled to receive 50% of any revenue that Righthaven receives from the filed lawsuits after costs are considered.
What at first may have seen as an easy money play for Righthaven may eventually bite the company in the ass.