Meet Righthaven LLC, the Las Vegas Frivolous Lawsuit Filers

I remember reading about these Righthaven assholes; suing everybody with drive-by lawsuits.  Steve Gibson (the CEO of the firm), and his flying monkeys troll the internet to find “copyright infringements” involving Las Vegas Review-Journal articles.  When they come across one of these “infringements”, they buy the copyright then sue the blogger or website for the supposed “infringement”. 

Background:

From Ron Futrell,  a target of Righthaven at Big Journalism:

There’s new meaning to the word “viral.”

Normally the word is used in a positive sense when something is so popular on the web that it is shared with as many people as possible and “hits” go through the roof. In this case, some are saying viral is an infection emanating from a Las Vegas newspaper and its hired hit men.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal has contracted with a company called Righthaven. Righthaven sues web sites that they say are violating the copyright laws by sharing the R-J stories. No warning, no request to take down the material, no shot across the bow—it’s nuclear right out of the box. Virtually every other newspaper across the country asks “offending” web sites to just take down the material, and lawsuits are used only as a last resort.

I know, I’m being sued by Righthaven/R-J. My web site, www.LocalsLoveVegas.com is pretty much a hobby with video and news stories about this crazy city. The site is apolitical and focuses on fun things to do in one of the most enjoyable cities on the planet. I didn’t know there was a problem until a writer from the competing paper in town, Steve Green, wrote an article about my lawsuit in the Las Vegas Sun.

Even though, as the lawsuit against me acknowledges, I gave full credit to the Review-Journal along with the writer of the story, and a link back to the R-J to read the entire story. They are still suing. The lawsuit is asking for me to pay $75,000, court costs, attorney’s fees, and they want my web domain.

Here’s the relevant section of U.S. Copyright Law regarding “fair use:”

At last check, there are around 120 websites being sued…

…… Steve Gibson, the guy who runs Righthaven, worked with Barack and Michelle Obama at the Sidley Austin LLP law firm in Chicago where Gibson and Michelle worked both worked on copyright and intellectual property law. Independent journalist Fintan Dunne has been uncovering this part of the story. Mutual friends of mine and Gibson’s tell me he’s conservative.  I told you the politics are dicey.

Perhaps green is the color of the politics here. Many have speculated that the entire purpose of these lawsuits is to intimidate small web sites for quick cash.  A blog site in Boston run by a lady who loves cats apparently posted an R-J story about a fire in Las Vegas that killed some birds. Like me, she was sued for $75k. Charities and non-profits are on the hit list. Speculation is rampant that this is an example of a dying industry trying for a final desperate grasp at survival. The R-J defends its actions by saying they are preserving the integrity of information that they have worked hard to obtain.
The rest here: http://bigjournalism.com/rfutrell/2010/09/10/righthaven-lawsuits-a-chilling-effect-on-the-blogosphere/

Righthaven didn’t count on some of their victims fighting back.

……“What makes this action frivolous is the baseless allegations pertaining to the existence of personal jurisdiction over me, when it should have been crystal clear to Righthaven that I am not amenable to suit in Nevada. The complaint is replete with false averments in an attempt to mislead the court, which is a blatant abuse of process,” said Dean Mostofi, who was sued after an R-J story about a lawyer being reprimanded allegedly was posted on his website deanmostofi.com.

“To fight this frivolous lawsuit I have filed, pro se (without an attorney), a well-researched motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, and I want to encourage all out-of-state defendants to file similar motions and to force Righthaven to litigate these actions in the proper venues,’’ said Mostofi, of Potomac, Md.

……Attorneys at the Las Vegas office of the law firm of Lewis and Roca, which has one of the biggest intellectual property practices in town, are contesting the legitimacy of at least two of Righthaven’s lawsuits.

In one lawsuit, involving the website MajorWager.com, they said in court papers: “While this case masquerades as a legitimate copyright dispute, in reality, it is arguably frivolous and nothing more than a thinly disguised shakedown.”

“Plaintiff Righthaven LLC knows that the costs of defending this action will far outweigh the value of this case, and is seeking to extract a settlement under the threat of protracted litigation and expense,” their filing said. “Neither the federal courts nor the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure were established for this purpose.”

……In another case involving the website emtcity.com, serving the paramedic and emergency medical technician community, the Lewis and Roca attorneys wrote: “This case is a frivolous and self-aggrandizing action that seeks enrichment for the plaintiff by abusing and subverting the legal process.”

“Plaintiff Righthaven LLC knows that the costs of defending this action will far outweigh the value of this case, and is seeking to extract a settlement under the threat of protracted litigation and expense. The purported amount of actual damages, if any, is de minimis (minimal) compared to the filing costs and their own in-house legal fees that they have heaped onto this matter in an effort to derive a greater recovery through settlement or judgment. (The defendant) asserts that this is an effort to bully him into submission and payment,” the attorneys wrote.

……Some websites have vowed to stop sending traffic to the R-J. Officials at a website called abovetopsecret.com said that after they were sued, they would immediately stop allowing users to post R-J stories and links. “It’s ludicrous. We’ll never settle with them,” Mark Allin, a partner at the company, said after his company was sued.

A website called www.thearmedcitizen.com shut down after its operators in Idaho were sued. The owners said they didn’t want to worry about any more litigation over the noncommercial site covering the use of weapons in self-defense.
More here: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2010/aug/04/some-targets-righthaven-lawsuits-fighting-back/

Righthaven’s latest legal fascism was shot down by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In the latest in a series of legal setbacks for Righthaven, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Righthaven’s “urgent motion” of Sept. 27 that the court stop attorneys for prevailing lawsuit defendant Wayne Hoehn from executing their judgment against Righthaven for $34,045 in legal fees.

Attorneys for Hoehn defeated Righthaven in one of the 275 infringement lawsuits it filed since March 2010 over Las Vegas Review-Journal and Denver Post material.

U.S. District Judge Philip Pro in Las Vegas found Hoehn, a Kentucky resident, was protected by the fair use doctrine of copyright law in posting on a sports betting website an entire R-J column without authorization.

Pro, like other judges in Nevada and Colorado, also found Righthaven lacked standing to sue because — despite its claims of copyright ownership — the R-J actually maintained control of the column at issue.

……Because of courtroom defeats at the hands of Hoehn and other defendants, Righthaven’s financial condition has deteriorated.
http://www.vegasinc.com/news/2011/oct/19/appeals-court-rejects-righthavens-urgent-motion/

The whole Righthaven firm is chock full of rabid, obsessive fucksticks, whose livelihood depends on bullying, harrassing and threatening (READ: extorting) for monetary gain.   Sherman Frederick, publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and protagnonist of the slew of lawsuits, is in a class all by himself. 

Take a look at some of the venom spewed by the Righthaven attorneys:

The Trauma Intervention Program (TIP) of Southern Nevada is a nonprofit that sends trained volunteers to the site of severe accidents, suicides, fires, and violent theft. The volunteers comfort family members, witnesses, and bystanders—traumatized people who can’t be helped by anything found in an ambulance.

TIP might seem an unlikely target for a federal copyright lawsuit, but it found itself hauled into court last week for posting 14 local newspaper articles about TIP and its volunteers to the group’s website. In most of the articles, TIP volunteers are the main sources for the reporters, providing plenty of quotes and (sometimes jarring) anecdotes about their work.

……Righthaven has also targeted the sources for some of the articles it controls, a nearly unheard-of practice in journalism.

Think Righthaven and the Las Vegas Review-Journal  crawled far enough into the gutter yet?  Read Frederick’s  justification:

On May 28, 2010, Las Vegas Review-Journal publisher Sherman Frederick wrote a meandering blog item on his paper’s site, titled “Copyright theft: we’re not taking it anymore.” In opening the piece, Frederick didn’t talk about copyright or theft or the law or fair use; he talked about what he loves most about newspapers.

Item number one: “A good newspaper maintains a good local sales force which calls on every business in a given market, forming a relationship that bonds the newspaper to the business community. Few organizations, if any, have that kind of sales muscle. A well-managed newspaper sales force is truly a beautiful thing to behold.”

Beauty in the eye of the beholder:

On September 2, Frederick ran a copy of note from one of his columnists, a note addressed to a reader who was boycotting the newspaper over its deal with Righthaven. The Review-Journal columnist, Vin Suprymowicz, told this reader:

“I don’t think I will miss you. I have a far lower opinion of thieves than you appear to have. In fact, watching them copy my columns while interpolating their own content and pretending it’s mine, watching them throw small merchants on the verge of bankruptcy by switching price tags and otherwise stealing merchandise below cost, I hate them with a passion. Lawsuits? They should have their goddamned hands cut off and nailed to the wall of City Hall.”
http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2010/09/righthaven-saving-the-newspaper-industry-one-lawsuit-at-a-time.ars

In Frederick’s mind, the mere mention of an article or excerpt of an article from his newspaper, even if there’s full credit to his publication, is “stealing”.  In layman’s parlance, that’s known as neurotic. 

There’s a  website devoted to Righthaven’s victims, and by the looks of things, they will be happy to know that it’s just a matter of time before Righthaven’s frivolous bullshit comes to a screeching halt due to bankruptcy. 

Karma.

The legal woes of Las Vegas-based copyright-trolling firm Righthaven continued Sunday when one of its creditors moved to seize its assets.

The development comes a week after the deadline passed for the former litigation factory to pay defendant Wayne Hoehn $34,000 in legal fees for successfully defending himself against a Righthaven copyright lawsuit. Righthaven had asked U.S. District Judge Philip Pro of Nevada to stay the fee award, saying it might slip into bankruptcy if forced to pay.

No stay was granted. So Hoehn’s attorney, Marc Randazza, asked Judge Pro on Sunday to “authorize the U.S. Marshalls to execute Hoehn’s judgment through seizure of Righthaven’s bank accounts, real and personal property, and intangible intellectual property rights for levy, lien, auction or other treatment appropriate for satisfaction of Hoehn’s judgment.” (.pdf)
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/09/righthaven-assets-targeted/

Couldn’t happen to a better collection of pricks.

1 thought on “Meet Righthaven LLC, the Las Vegas Frivolous Lawsuit Filers”

  1. Having lived in Vegas for more than 30 years, this isn’t all that new to me. But, rest assured this will appear in tomorrow’s R/J Discussion Forum!
    Thanks for the info.

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