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RightHaven

Judge Clifton of the Ninth Circuit (via ArsTechnica):

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,” the opinion begins.

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.

January 31 roundup

by Walter Olson on January 31, 2012

  • Latest of periodic Towers Watson (formerly Towers Perrin/Tillinghast) surveys: tort costs fell in 2010 excluding oil spill liability [Towers Watson]
  • “Will Newt Neuter the Courts?” [James Huffman, Defining Ideas] Obama’s high court appointees are fortunately friendlier toward civil liberties than he is [Steve Chapman]
  • Unanimous Cal Supremes: companies not legally responsible for other companies’ asbestos products used as replacement for theirs [Cal Biz Lit, Jackson, Beck, Mass Tort Prof]
  • Claim: jurors considered policy implications of verdict and you can’t have that [On Point; defense verdict in Baltimore, Maryland school-bullying case]
  • Airfare display mandate: “‘Protecting’ Consumers from the Truth About the Cost of Government” [Thom Lambert, TotM]
  • Critical assessment of AP-backed new copyright aggregator “NewsRight” [Mike Masnick] Promises not to be “Righthaven 2.0″ [Cit Media Law]
  • Restatement (Third) of Torts drafters vs. Enlightenment scientific views of causation [David Oliver in June]

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December 30 roundup

by Walter Olson on December 30, 2011

November 22 roundup

by Walter Olson on November 22, 2011

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“US Marshals turned loose to collect $63,720.80 from Righthaven” [Nate Anderson, ArsTechnica]

October 13 roundup

by Walter Olson on October 13, 2011

  • Behind the antitrust assault on Google [Jerry Brito, Josh Wright, more]
  • Rapid rise of lawsuit lenders [WSJ] And a Searle Civil Justice Institute conference on third party financing of litigation;
  • More law firms muscle into class action against e-book publishers [PaidContent] Fifth Circuit questions cy pres [Trask] And a new edition of the Federalist Society’s Class Action Watch is out;
  • When the house painters announce they’re not leaving: “Britain plans to tighten anti-squatter laws” [NYT]
  • “Courts Call Out Copyright Trolls’ Coercive Business Model, Threaten Sanctions” [EFF] “Righthaven’s Copyright Trolling is a Bankrupt Idea” [Cit Media Law] More: Vegas Inc.
  • “Twombly is the Logical Extension of the Mathews v. Eldridge Test to Discovery” [Andrew Blair-Stanek via Volokh, Frank] “Four more reasons to love TwIqbal” [Beck] “O’Scannlain says 9th Circ has adopted ‘Iqbal lite’ pleading standard, ‘Same insufficient complaints, fewer dismissals!'” [@ScottKGraham on dissent in Starr v. County of Los Angeles, PDF]
  • Florida farms sell raw milk as (wink) “pet food” [Sun-Sentinel]

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September 14 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 14, 2011

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July 8 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 8, 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?

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It has to do with RightHaven: “Why We Won’t Link To Denver Post, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Salt Lake Tribune, and Several Others” [Box Turtle Bulletin]

April 18 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 18, 2011

April 14 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 14, 2011

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The copyright mill’s much-criticized lawsuits have been generating adverse judicial precedent that may actually leave providers more vulnerable to content-swiping than before [Las Vegas Sun, Instapundit] More: Citizen Media Law.

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March 23 roundup

by Walter Olson on March 23, 2011

  • New Yorker suing boss for $2M because working in New Jersey caused him “anguish” [Biz Insider]
  • British lawyer’s libel threats impede UK publication of Paul Offit vaccine book [Respectful Insolence]
  • Lawsuit settlement leads to Florida push to curb tobacco discounter [WSJ; background, Jeremy Bulow]
  • Allegation: attorneys made personal use of cy pres fund in Armenian genocide settlement [PoL]
  • “Telecommuting employees raise special wage and hour issues” [Hyman]
  • UK bias cops wonder whether to ban gay-preferred along with gay-not-preferred guesthouses [Ed West, U.K. Telegraph]
  • Copyright mills: “Local law firm wants to defend people sued by local law firm” [TBD] Related: [Citizen Media Law, Coleman]
  • “Top 10 Reasons to Not Open a Bar or Restaurant in NYC” [NY Enterprise Report]

The guy had reposted a photo belonging to the Denver Post, a newspaper that’s among the clients of the copyright-enforcement mill [Westword via Romenesko, USWGO]

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Righthaven update

by Walter Olson on December 11, 2010

Having defeated a Righthaven suit filed against the political site Democratic Underground, lawyers from the Electronic Frontier Foundation now would like the court to award attorneys’ fees. [Kravets, Wired "Threat Level"] Among the claims advanced by EFF in that case were that Righthaven had engaged in barratry and champerty, concepts familiar to many Overlawyered readers if in desuetude in some sectors of the legal world these days. It had also pointed out that some of the newspapers facilitating the suits themselves, or websites they operate, appear to engage in or encourage practices that might be considered wrongful under Righthaven’s theories, such as “cutting and pasting” potentially copyrighted text.

Separately, Groklaw has analyzed what happened in one sample case. Of the furor aroused by the lawsuits, “I think the benefits are worth the negative publicity,” said one executive with the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s owner at a September panel.

The entrepreneurial copyright litigation firm has also now signed up the Denver Post as a new affiliate, and has made a splash by suing the owner of the Drudge Report over its use of a photo allegedly swiped from the Colorado newspaper, an offense (if proven) presumably not as readily defended under “fair use” doctrine as some others over which it has sued.

The company says it will narrow its filing of infringement suits following a Nevada judge’s ruling that a real estate firm was within acceptable “fair use” limits in handling a copyrighted newspaper story of which it had reprinted the first eight sentences. “Righthaven does not anticipate filing any future lawsuits founded upon infringements of less than 75% of a copyrighted work, regardless of the outcome of the instant litigation,” it said in a court filing. [David Kravets/Wired "Threat Level", Las Vegas Sun]

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The Las Vegas Sun has details. Meanwhile, the copyright troll has sued six more website operators.