Resetting the Righthaven Fiasco (July-August 2011 Quick Links, Part 1)

By Eric Goldman

The Righthaven empire is in tatters. It hasn’t expanded its inventory of cases for months (no new cases in July or August); its existing inventory of cases is shrinking for lack of standing and, increasingly, for lack of service; given that, the existing defendants aren’t likely to settle, so Righthaven’s revenues are stagnant; instead, its profit meter is running in reverse with mounting sanctions and attorney’s fee awards; and as far as I can tell, Righthaven apparently has no full-time employees. Unless something changes big-time–such as a major victory in one of its Ninth Circuit appeals or a bankruptcy-inducing adverse fee award–it appears Righthaven will “quietly” fade into the sunset.

If you missed it, Steve Green did a nice job resetting the Righthaven debacle: 1, 2, 3.

Some of the other interesting developments over the past two months:

* In the Hoehn case, Righthaven was drilled for $34k in attorneys’ fees. If you missed it, check out Steve Gibson’s characteristically defiant response.

* Righthaven was also sanctioned $5,000 for failing to properly disclose its interested parties.

* Righthaven lost a series of standing decisions, including in front of Judge Mahan in the Pahrump Life case and in front of Judge Dawson in Righthaven LLC v. Mostofi, 2011 WL 2746315 (D.Nev. Jul 13, 2011) (although, in a typical fit of petulant spite, Righthaven resued Mostofi) and the Hyatt case.

* In Democratic Underground v. Righthaven, Judge Hunt continues to raise the UPL issue: “the Court questions whether Righthaven can even have a legitimate interest under any agreement (no matter the rights purportedly transferred) because Stephens Media and Righthaven’s arrangement seems very much like a contingency fee arrangement with an entity unauthorized to practice law.” FN1: “The Court notes that it considered certifying the question of whether Righthaven is engaged in the unauthorized practice of law to the Nevada Supreme Court. Ultimately, the Court chose not to solely because that issue is not dispositive of this application because Stephens Media will adequately represent Righthaven’s theoretical interests and the application is untimely. However, the Court may yet certify the question in a separate case.”

* In Righthaven v. Democratic Underground, Judge Hunt also ripped Righthaven over its request for extra time to comply with his ordered sanctions. Joe Mullin’s coverage.

* Righthaven v. Choudry, 2011 WL 2976800 (D. Nev. July 21, 2011): The court denied the defendant’s motion to reconsider. The court said: “The court understands defendant’s position that in-line linking and volitional conduct are two separate defenses. However, this court cannot conclude, as a matter of law, that the presence of an RSS feed unequivocally absolves a defendant of any and all liability for potential copyright infringement. This court lacks the expertise required to determine when or how an individual may modify or otherwise alter the behavior of an RSS feed, if at all. As such, the court cannot make a legal determination on the consequences of any such modifications.”

* the Righthaven/MediaNews agreement is online.

* Righthaven finally put up a web page, although it’s hardly confidence-inspiring.

Prior blog coverage:

* Righthaven Defendant Awarded $3,800 in Attorneys’ Fees–Righthaven v. Leon

* Recapping Righthaven Developments from the Past Two Weeks

* Righthaven Benchslapped in Ruling Saying It Lacks Standing–Righthaven v. Democratic Underground

* Another Defense-Favorable Righthaven Ruling–Righthaven v. Choudhry

* Republishing Entire Newspaper Story is Fair Use–Righthaven v. CIO

* Blogger Wins Fair Use Defense…On a Motion to Dismiss!–Righthaven v. Realty One