Righthaven LLC -- a bottom feeding legal outfit -- has teamed up with the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Denver Post to sue mom and pop websites, advocacy and public interest groups and forum board operators for copyright infringement. The strategy of Righthaven is to sue thousands of these website owners, who are primarily unfunded and will be forced to settle out of court.
Righthaven lawsuitsTo date Righthaven has been ordered to pay $323,138 in legal fees and sanctions.Righthaven lawsuits

Friday, March 13, 2015

5-Years Ago Righthaven Unleashed Copyright Trolling Operation; Gibson Still Practicing Law

Journalist Steve Green, formerly with the Las Vegas Sun and now with the Orange County Register, who worked tirelessly reporting the depths and doings and eventually the complete undoing of Righthaven LLC has written a long follow up five years to the day that Righthaven began its copyright trolling scheme. If you were a follower of this website from 2010 to 2012, back during Righthaven's "shakedown" lawsuit heyday, the memories will flood back ten fold, particularly Righthaven's numerous PR blunders and the key cases that defeated Righthaven and ultimately threw them into bankruptcy.

Some of Righthaven's worst PR blunders included filing their typical "without warning" lawsuits against a woman who had a blog that was written from a cat's point of view and mistakenly posted a Review-Journal article about a bird sanctuary. There was also the suit filed against U.S. Senate Candidate Sharron Angle. After being sued for posting an R-J editorial and story to her website, the R-J endorsed Angle. Righthaven's tide-turning PR blunder, however, was a lawsuit against 20-year old Brian Hill, a blogger from North Carolina who suffers a mild form of autism, diabetes and hyperactive disorder.
At Chapman forum, 'Righthaven' copyright outfit still controversial five years later

It was five years ago -- March 13, 2010 -- that Righthaven LLC launched its assembly line-like copyright lawsuit campaign over newspaper content. Righthaven is long gone, but the controversies it stirred up linger today.
Righthaven was a Las Vegas company created to sue over material copied without authorization from news websites, its partners being the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Denver Post. Between March 2010 and June 2011 it filed 275 lawsuits over content from those papers in federal courts in Nevada, Colorado and South Carolina.
Righthaven was a company, not a law firm, and it ultimately fell apart after defense attorneys discovered it lacked authority to file the lawsuits.
See: Orange County Register article in full
See: Righthaven archives from VEGAS INC/Las Vegas Sun
See: March 2010 Righthaven lawsuits

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Righthaven Finally Bites the Dust; 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Confirms No Standing to Sue

In the copyright infringement lawsuits involving defendants Wayne Hoehn and Thomas DiBiase, the two cases were combined on appeal, the Court ruled on May 9, 2013 (read full opinion):
OPINION (CLIFTON, Circuit Judge)
Abraham Lincoln told a story about a lawyer who tried to establish that a calf had five legs by calling its tail a leg. But the calf had only four legs, Lincoln observed, because calling a tail a leg does not make it so. Before us is a case about a lawyer who tried to establish that a company owned a copyright by drafting a contract calling the company the copyright owner, even though the company lacked the rights associated with copyright ownership. Heeding Lincoln’s wisdom, and the requirements of the Copyright Act, we conclude that merely calling someone a copyright owner does not make it so.
The Court also vacated the order granting the motion for summary judgment on fair use grounds.
We understand why the district court reached the fair use issue. By providing an alternative basis for decision, the court sought to deal with this case in a more efficient manner. If we disagreed with the district court and concluded that Righthaven had standing to bring this copyright infringement action, we could have proceeded directly to the next issue, fair use, without requiring a remand and a further appeal.
Nonetheless, because we agree that Righthaven did not have standing, it is not appropriate for us to go further or for the district court’s alternative ruling to stand. We therefore vacate the portion of the district court’s order that analyzed the merits of the fair use defense and granted the motion for summary judgment.
See: Ars Technica article in full
See:  Ninth Circuit Vacates Fair Use Finding in Righthaven Case

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

U.S. Magistrate Judge Revives Action in DiBiase Case; Attorney Shawn Mangano on the Hook

Just when you believed all bad things finally come to an end, such as the copyright troll known as Righthaven, the awful karma is whipped up again. In this instance, U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen revived a longstanding issue in Righthaven's lawsuit against Thomas DiBiase. The issue concerns attorney Shawn Mangano failing to respond to her previous orders. Leen wrote in her order Tuesday that Mangano has one last chance to file a required brief by Oct. 2 and to attend the Oct. 16 hearing.
Leen, in setting an Oct. 16 hearing in the case, wrote in her order Tuesday that the problems in the case developed as outside Righthaven attorney Shawn Mangano failed to respond to her orders in the case...
Failure to appear at the hearing will result in an order directed to the U.S. Marshal’s office to find and bring Mr. Mangano before the court. Failure to respond to this order by Mr. Mangano may result in sanctions, including contempt of court against Mr. Mangano," Leen wrote in her order.
See: VEGAS INC article in full

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Dismisses Righthaven Case That Won Key Fair Use Ruling

Court Tosses Righthaven Fair Use Appeal
The dismissal was requested by the nonprofit Center for Intercultural Organizing (CIO) in Portland, Ore., which won a key fair-use ruling last year against Righthaven.
The dismissal was granted Wednesday by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, which cited case law that appeared to back arguments by the CIO that Righthaven could no longer participate in the case since creditors had seized the copyrights it sues over. In layman’s terms, the CIO argued Righthaven no longer had a dog in the fight so the fight was over.
Recall that back in January, Google filed a friend of the court brief in this case concerning the Center for Intercultural Organizing (CIO), which involved the posting of an entire 33-paragraph R-J story without authorization. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the Digital Media Law Project, Public Knowledge and several law professors joined together and filed a friend of the court brief as well.

See: VEGAS INC article in full

Saturday, July 7, 2012

New Convoluted Legal Situation Involving Righthaven Intensifies; Awaiting On Courts

In yet another "convoluted legal situation involving the Las Vegas-based copyright lawsuit filer," writes VEGAS INC, the struggle of who really controls Righthaven LLC lurches forward. After the court-appointed receiver, attorney Lara Pearson, moved to fire CEO Steve Gibson last week as well as ordering attorney Erik Syverson to stop acting on behalf of the "original" Righthaven, Syverson filed documents with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday on behalf of the entity anyway.

According to the same news article, Syverson will stand by, awaiting guidance from the court on how to proceed. Whether Judge Phillip Pro (who approved the receivership) or the 9th Circuit will resolve this new complicated situation involving Righthaven and Steve Gibson is unclear. What's at stake in this appeals case is if Righthaven had standing to sue Wayne Hoehn, who posted a Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial in full on a message board, and if Hoehn's posting was protected by fair use.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Righthaven Founder Objects to Termination; Seeks to Remove Receiver's Attorney

Independently, as addressed more fully, infra, I remain the manager of the manager of Righthaven and I should have the right to hire or terminate Righthaven counsel. By way of this Objection, I hereby seek the Court’s recognition that I have the right to terminate, and so terminate, Mr. Lichtenstein’s so-called representation of Righthaven and that any further act undertaken by Mr. Lichenstein will not be undertaken with proper authority. Indeed, Mr. Lichtenstein’s confusing appearance before the Ninth Circuit should subject both the Receiver and Mr. Lichtenstein to liability. Mr. Lichtenstein should have known that the Receiver did not follow this Court’s rules in having himself employed as counsel and therefore his appearance before the Ninth Circuit is per se malpractice and unprofessional. Mr. Lichtenstein should also have known that I remain the manager of the manager of Righthaven and therefore retain authority to conduct the affairs of Righthaven (which, as made clear, merely constitute the interface with appellate counsel to conduct the appeal as Righthaven has literally no other activity).
See: Steven Gibson's Objection to Receiver's Termination

Saturday, June 30, 2012

After Firing Steve Gibson, Receiver Gains Representation by First Amendment Attorney

News about Righthaven continues to pick up. It began at the start of the week when the court-appointed receiver, Lara Pearson, fired CEO Steve Gibson and his wife, formerly the COO, Raisha “Drizzle” Gibson after learning that Gibson had engaged an attorney to write a 30-page reply brief (6-months after it was due) for Righthaven v. Hoehn. That case is currently under review by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Righthaven had virtually ceased functioning by the end of September 2011, and by the time Pearson was appointed in December, Righthaven was immersed in debt.

See: Receiver’s Report to Court: Termination of Steve Gibson

In Monday's court filing, Pearson also attached a letter she sent to Gibson that stated Pearson "will be taking legal action against you for your ultra vires acts as well as for claims of legal malpractice, which led the company to its current state." On Friday, it was announced that First Amendment attorney Allen Lichtenstein, a private attorney and general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, signed on in the capacity as a private attorney to represent the receiver in an effort to put an end to Gibson pursing its appeals. This is not Lichtenstein's first interaction with Righthaven.

See: VEGAS INC article in full

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Righthaven Ordered to Pay Attorney's Fees in Case Involving the Democratic Underground

Righthaven Ordered to Pay Attorney's Fees in Another Case
Righthaven LLC, the Las Vegas copyright infringement lawsuit filer, was ordered Thursday to pay $131,457 in attorney's fees to a defendant that prevailed against Righthaven in court.
U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt in Las Vegas ordered that Righthaven pay the fees to attorneys for the Democratic Underground, a political website operator in the Washington, D.C., area.
The order raises the amount Righthaven has been ordered to pay copyright defendants to $318,138. The article also notes that only 24 of its lawsuits remain open, excluding four appeals cases.

See: VEGAS INC article in full

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Nonprofit Asks Appeals Court to Dismiss Case; No News from State Bar; More Updates

Last week, VEGAS INC reported the following notable updates in the Righthaven saga:
See: VEGAS INC article in full

Monday, May 7, 2012

Righthaven Copyright Auction Re-Launched Today; Scant Interest in First Auction

UPDATE 05/07/12: Apparently, there were no bidders in the second eBay auction either. The latest auction ended Saturday. In an article published Monday by VEGAS INC, attorney Marc Randazza, whose firm is trying to recover legal fees after defeating a Righthaven lawsuit on behalf of a client, said: "It would seem that everything that Righthaven and its parade of idiots touch turns to garbage."

It seems when (and if) they start to auction off the real "memorable" items, such as the RJ story of the bird sanctuary catching fire, there might be more interest in these auctions. The May 2nd VEGAS INC article, Scant interest so far in acution of Righthaven copyrights, goes into more details.
Righthaven copyright auctions to re-launch today 
Incline Village, NV, USA – May 03, 2012
Seventeen Righthaven copyrights are being auctioned off on eBay starting 8:00 a.m. PDT today and ending at approximately 8:00 p.m. PDT on Saturday May 5, 2012. This is the third auction of Righthaven property to satisfy court judgments against the Las Vegas company. The RIGHTHAVEN service mark was sold for $1025.00 in an auction that closed this morning. The auctions are being conducted by the court-appointed receiver for Righthaven, Lara Pearson, Esq., operating under the eBay seller name courtappointedreceiver. The auction listings are as follows:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Another Righthaven Appeals Case Dismissed, Another Fair Use Ruling Stands

Fourth Righthaven Copyright Lawsuit Appeal Dismissed
Copyright lawsuit filer Righthaven LLC of Las Vegas saw another one of its appeals dismissed Wednesday after Righthaven apparently abandoned the case. A deputy clerk at the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco dismissed Righthaven’s appeal of a 2010 ruling finding Las Vegas real estate agent Michael J. Nelson was protected by fair use in posting part of a Las Vegas Review-Journal story on his commercial website without first gaining permission from the R-J to do so.
The caveat with this fair use ruling is that U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks acknowledged that Nelson used the R-J story for commercial purposes, which often counts against fair use, but found that the posted portion was "factual" (not creative) and that Nelson's posting of the first eight sentences of the 30-sentence article was “likely to have little to no effect on the market for the copyrighted news article.” The is the fourth appeals case that has been dismissed after being abandoned by Righthaven.

See: VEGAS INC article in full

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mega Legal Fee Bill in Case Defending the Democratic Underground is Revealed: $774,00

Review-Journal Owner Facing $774,000 Fee Demand in Righthaven Case
"Righthaven and Stephens Media had an improper motivation in the pursuit of this lawsuit and their litigation campaign more generally. They sought to shake down website operators and bloggers for nuisance-value settlements with threats of seizure of their domain name and huge statutory damage awards, regardless of whether those defendants’ uses of the works at issue were actually infringing,'' said a filing Tuesday in federal court in Las Vegas seeking recovery of legal fees by Democratic Underground attorneys. ''As to deterrence, an award of fees is necessary to dissuade these parties and others from any similar scheme of shakedown lawsuits threatening staggering statutory damage awards and seizure of websites. Righthaven and Stephens Media pursued these claims such that numerous instances of legitimate fair use, like that here, would necessarily be dragged into their litigation machine."
The Democratic Underground was represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and attorney Laurence Pulgram at Fenwick & West LLP in San Francisco. In their motion to be reimbursed for fees, Pulgram and EFF attorney Kurt Opsahl said over 1,000 hours were spent fighting Righthaven and Stephens media. Part of this included a counterclaim involving Stephens Media, which led to the discovery of the Strategic Alliance Agreement, and Righthaven's lack of standing to sue.

See: VEGAS INC article in full

Monday, April 2, 2012

More Righthaven Cases Dismissed; Only 29 Still Open Since the Birth of this Copyright Troll

Seven More Righthaven Suits Dismissed
Righthaven LLC of Las Vegas suffered yet another setback Friday when a federal judge dismissed seven more of its newspaper copyright infringement lawsuits ... The suits dismissed Friday were against the Virginia Citizens Defense League, Thomas Chandler, Hawaii Tourism Association Inc., Ryan Burrage, Inkosonic Networks, Isaac Rosete and Ecological Internet Inc.
Of the 275 lawsuits filed by Righthaven, beginning in March 2010, only 29 cases remain open. VEGAS INC also reports that the remaining cases are all located in Nevada and are likely slated for dismissal. Given the incommunicado status of Righthaven's attorney Shawn Mangano and the company's empty bank account, it seems the days of filing "sham copyright assignment" lawsuits are over for Righthaven. How prevailing defendants will recover their legal fees continues to be unresolved.

See: VEGAS INC article in full

Friday, March 30, 2012

EFF Replies to Most Recent Scapegoating Attempt by Righthaven CEO, Steve Gibson

On Monday, Steve Gibson filed a response to the order seeking to find Righthaven in contempt of court and imposing sanctions in the case of defendant Thomas DiBiase. In the filing, Gibson claimed that as CEO of Righthaven, he was 1.) Not party to the case, 2.) Had not been receiving notice of the happenings in the case and 3.) Had "complete legal inability" to address DiBiase's demands. Gibson then blamed the mess on Righthaven's incommunicado attorney Shawn Mangano.

The DiBiase response, submitted Thursday by attorney Kurt Opsahl of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, sheds light on Gibson's filing, starting with Gibson's excuses and misplaced blame.
Mr. Gibson offers excuses and proposals for further delays, none of which explains Righthaven’s ongoing failure to be "reasonably diligent and energetic in attempting" to accomplish what this Court ordered ... Mr. Gibson proposes that the Court place responsibility solely on its counsel of record, Shawn Mangano. Given that, as even Mr. Gibson acknowledges, Mr. Mangano is nowhere to be found, this is actually a request for Righthaven, and Mr. Gibson, to avoid all accountability ... Mr. Gibson, as CEO and the principal officer of Righthaven, has to comply with this Court’s order and purge the ongoing contempt of court.
Several pages into the EFF's reply, referring to Gibson's claim that Righthaven lacks the funds to order the debtor's examination transcript, one learns that Gibson was "obliquely referencing himself" when he stated in his filing there is "no reason to believe that one or more of Righthaven’s parents would not continue to make capital contributions." Opsahl states in the reply that bank statements show that Gibson has been "personally funding Righthaven to keep its balance just above zero."
Moreover, Mr. Gibson admits that Righthaven had access to sufficient funds to pay Mr. Mangano for months after its revenue dried up, asserting "[u]p until Mangano became totally incommunicado [mid-February 2012], Righthaven fulfilled all payment obligations to Mangano." ... Righthaven’s bank records show that Mr. Mangano was being paid regularly in installments of around $2,475.00 ... The money Righthaven will now save by not paying Mr. Mangano is more than enough to pay for the transcript of a half-day debtor’s examination. Mr. Gibson’s deliberate decision not to use funds available to Righthaven does not constitute "impossibility."

The Captain is Last Off the Ship

Opsahl then spells out -- 101 style -- what Gibson's responsibilities as chief officer are, "Righthaven should either hire a new attorney or Mr. Gibson should return to this litigation as counsel of record." Next, he pulls apart Gibson's logic of having the "complete legal inability" to represent Righthaven. Also, Gibson "voluntarily chose this attorney as his representative in the action," writes Opsahl, "he cannot now avoid the consequences of the acts or omissions of this freely selected agent."

In conclusion, "there is no question that Righthaven has not complied with the Court's order," states the reply, nor is there question that Gibson refused to accept responsibility to comply as well, despite being the sole person in charge of Righthaven. Given this, the $500 per day sanction, payable by both Mr. Gibson and Righthaven, is the "only way to coerce compliance," writes Opsahl. The reply noted that the daily coercive sanctions fee begin upon entry of the February 7 contempt order.

Now then, when Mangano will emerge from "nowhere to be found" incommunicado land, is certainly a burning question left unanswered.

See: EFF's reply to Steve Gibson in full

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

In Fighting New Sanction, Righthaven CEO Steve Gibson, Blames Outside Counsel

In Fighting Sanction, Righthaven CEO Complains of Foes' 'Ambush Tactics'
The CEO of copyright lawsuit filer Righthaven LLC is complaining that he's the victim of "unconscionable" ambush tactics by opposing attorneys in one of several lawsuits filed by the company.
Steven Gibson, who is facing a fine of $500 per day over Righthaven's failure to turn over financial information in the case, says the attorneys are unfairly trying to pin the blame on him for not producing the data. He claims the responsibility lies not with him or the company but with an attorney who has represented Righthaven, Shawn Mangano.
See a related blog post at Gametimeip.com, A 'Bike Lesson' From Dickinson Wright Partner (And Righthaven CEO) Steve Gibson On IP Monetization, that digs deeper into the How To guide of everything not to do when starting your own IP monetization outfit. Now all eyes are on the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and how they will respond to Gibson's most recent scapegoating attempt. It will be interesting to see if Mangano re-emerges as well. Mangano has been unreachable for weeks.

See: Steve Gibson's filing in full
See: VEGAS INC article in full

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Righthaven's Slow Motion Implosion Continues; 'Superstar' Litigator Withdraws from Cases

Top Copyright Litigator Withdraws from Righthaven Cases
Dale Cendali, one of the top U.S. copyright attorneys, made it clear Wednesday that she’s no longer representing struggling copyright enforcement company Righthaven LLC of Las Vegas ... Cendali, who signed on to represent Righthaven in a couple of cases last year as it struggled to beat back challenges to its lawsuits, hasn’t been heard from in months in relation to Righthaven.
News about "superstar" litigator Dale Cendali is a longtime in the coming. No one understood as far back as September 2011 how Righthaven could pay Cendali, a partner at Kirkland and Ellis. According to PaidContent.org, Kirkland was one of the first firms where some New York partners "broke the $1,000-per-hour billing ceiling a few years back." There's still no word on Righthaven's other outside attorney, Shawn Mangano, -- withdrawing or otherwise -- who has been absent for weeks.

See: VEGAS INC article in full

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Judge Orders Righthaven to Forfeit 'All' Copyrights; New Auction Coming Soon

Judge Orders Failed Copyright Troll to Forfeit ‘All’ Copyrights
Righthaven, a copyright-troll law firm that failed in its attempt to make money for newspapers by suing readers for sharing stories online, was dealt a death blow Tuesday by a federal judge who ordered the Las Vegas company to forfeit “all of” its intellectual property and other “intangible property” to settle its debts.
The ruling involves prevailing defendant Wayne Hoehn, represented by Randazza Legal Group. In December, the legal group auctioned off Righthaven's domain name in hopes of raising money to help satisfy the legal bills Righthaven owes Hoehn. This same group will auction off the 278 surrendered copyrights. Attorney Marc Randazza responded to the irony of this: "Perhaps those who buy the copyrights could issue DMCA notices to the Review-Journal stopping them from redistributing them?"

See: Wired article in full | View: Order Transferring Intellectual Property

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Investor Appetite Loss in Righthaven's Losing Business Model; The Irony of Judge Navarro

Judge Threatens to Dismiss 7 More Righthaven Lawsuits
In its latest setback Thursday, U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro ordered Righthaven to show cause within three weeks why the seven Righthaven cases she is handling should not be dismissed ...
Navarro’s order Thursday was ironic because she is one of a handful of judges handling Righthaven cases who has not yet ruled on the crucial issue of whether Righthaven had standing to sue under its copyright assignments from the Review-Journal and the Denver Post.
See: VEGAS INC article in full

'Moribund' Righthaven Defeated Again; Recap on Important Democratic Underground Case

Problems Pile Up for Righthaven with New Ruling
Legal problems are snowballing for Las Vegas copyright lawsuit filer Righthaven LLC, with a judge on Wednesday entering yet another judgment against the firm.
In Righthaven’s 2010 lawsuit against the Democratic Underground political website, U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt in Las Vegas granted a motion by the Democratic Underground that final judgment be entered against Righthaven.
Why was Righthaven's lawsuit against the Democratic Underground so significant?
The Democratic Underground now seeks to recover the legal fees it racked up defending itself.

See: VEGAS INC article in full

Monday, March 5, 2012

Righthaven is Finito; Judge Strips Bottom Feeding Group of Copyrights and Trademark

Judge Strips Righthaven of Rights to 278 Copyrights and Its Trademark
Like a gunfighter with no bullets, Las Vegas copyright company Righthaven LLC no longer has any copyrights to sue over.
A federal judge in Las Vegas on Monday stripped Righthaven of whatever interests it has in its 278 federal copyright registrations as well as its trademark.
Judge Philip Pro ordered that the copyrights and trademarks be transferred to a court-appointed receiver so they can be auctioned to cover some of Righthaven’s debts.
Isn't this a fine ending for our "little friend" called Righthaven? The legal outfit didn't have standing to sue before this ruling and now they don't even own the copyrights. This is it finito -- except for defendants seeking attorney fees and recovering damages. The ruling came Monday in the case of defendant Wayne HoehnMarc Randazza, a Las Vegas attorney representing Hoehn, said that Pro’s order wipes out Righthaven’s interest in all of its pending lawsuits and appeals -- "It moots them."

See: VEGAS INC article in full