Sunday, August 29, 2010

I Keep Hoping For Some Common Sense And Justice

This August 26, 2010 Las Vegas Sun article about the first situation where a judge has actually gotten involved in the Righthaven suits gives me a little hope.  Federal judge Johnston did a phone conference with Steve Gibson and the defendant, Allegra Wong:

Johnston then asked about provisions in the copyright law allowing him to order damages of just $200 for unwillful infringement and for him to use discretion in awarding costs and fees.

"It sounds like this can be a lot less than four figures," Johnston said. But the judge didn't elaborate on whether the "less than four figures" comment referred to potential damages, or costs, or both.
From what I have read, the $200 fine for unintentional infringement is actually more typical in such cases.   But Gibson won't hear of it.  More importantly, Judge Johnston asked why Righthaven didn't just write a letter to Wong--instead of spending a pile of money (about $1300 to $1500, apparently) on filing a complaint and having her served.  And Gibson's response was to claim that they did not know where to send the letter.

Maybe they didn't know where to send a letter to Wong.  But it would have taken about five minutes to find the phone number and mailing address for the vast majority of the defendants in these cases.  I have yet to talk to a defendant who received any pre-filing contact at all. 


  1. It sounds like Gibson is trying to mislead the judge. If he didn't know where to send a letter to Wong, how did he know where to have her served with the complaint?

    Lying to or misleading judges is a dangerous game. At the least, it predisposes the judge not to be very sympathetic to your case.

    Still it sounds like there might be some light at the end of the tunnel that isn't attached to an oncoming train.

  2. City Felines Blog seems to have been hosted at which is down now. It's whois record is still up and the administrative contact is not obfuscated at all. It's been true for decades that any administrative issue on a domain is supposed to go to the whois record administrative contact. In this case that's Emerson Wong.

  3. It does appear that Gibson has misled the judge, claiming not to know where to send a cease and desist letter--but knowing where to have Wong served the complaint. That isn't going to go over well.

  4. Is RightHaven only suing blogs that run ads or have tipjars?
    I have neither, and am wonder if that means I'm 'safe.'
    Anybody know?

    BTW- Righthaven has just announced an agreement with WEHCO Media, which means more newspaper suits.
    Link here.

  5. They are suing blogs that had no ads and no tipjar--like Wong's.

  6. Still it sounds like there might be some light at the end of the tunnel that isn't attached to an oncoming train.

    Oh it's attached to a train alright, I just don't think that Mr. Gibson realizes that he is the one standing in the tunnel....