“Judge rules Righthaven lacks standing to sue, threatens sanctions over misrepresentations”

by Walter Olson on June 17, 2011

Copyright troll tripped up:

A federal judge in Las Vegas today issued a potentially devastating ruling against copyright enforcer Righthaven LLC, finding it doesn’t have standing to sue over Las Vegas Review-Journal stories, that it has misled the court and threatening to impose sanctions against Righthaven. … [U.S. District Court Judge Roger] Hunt’s ruling today came in a 2010 Righthaven lawsuit against the Democratic Underground, operator of a big political website.

One of DU’s message board posters had reprinted without permission, but with link and credit, four paragraphs’ worth of an article under copyright to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which is one of a number of newspapers with working agreements with RightHaven. And this part’s interesting:

In their counterclaim [which Judge Hunt allowed to proceed], attorneys for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a digital free speech group based in San Francisco, hit Righthaven and Stephens Media with allegations of barratry (the alleged improper incitement of litigation); and champerty (an allegedly improper relationship between one funding and one pursuing a lawsuit)….

Some fans of entrepreneurial lawyering in the academy and elsewhere have sought to portray rules against barratry and champerty as wrongheaded survivals of a much older approach to the role of the legal profession. But it looks as if EFF — no one’s idea of a Blackstone-reading antiquarian club — just put those rules to powerful use. [Las Vegas Sun]

P.S. Bloggers who settled wonder: can we get our money back?

{ 3 comments }

1 gitarcarver 06.17.11 at 1:13 pm

If one could insert a graphic of the Snoopy “Happy Dance,” this would be an appropriate place for it.

2 ohwilleke 06.17.11 at 3:11 pm

“rules against barratry and champerty”

Notably, the ruling relies on a copyright specific statute for this holding rather than one applicable to all lawsuits, and also relies on the fact that Righthaven made false representations to many judges regarding the facts that gave it standing to sue. A non-intellectual property suit in which facts that would constitute barratry or champerty in Blackstone’s day were specifically disclosed might well be valid today.

3 Bill H 06.18.11 at 8:35 pm

gitarcarver 06.17.11 at 1:13 pm
If one could insert a graphic of the Snoopy “Happy Dance,” this would be an appropriate place for it.

Absolutely. I am no fan of DU, but this is one place where they did an excellent job putting up a fight along with EFF.

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