Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Legal Garbage Just Gets More And More Ridiculous

Once this is over, I'm going to tell the full story of what we are being put through.  This has nothing to do with justice, or even law.  I knew that our system was bad, but I had no idea how bad.  The temptation to leave America forever when this is done gets stronger and stronger.  This country is now run by people too evil to share a nation with any longer.  Other readers are telling me the same thing--America is finished.

UPDATE: For those who think that this could be settled out of court cheaply: think again.  Other defendants who have approached Righthaven without a lawyer to settle this matter have been told variously, "$7500" or "low five figures" for a single newspaper article infringement. 

Now, if something like this went to court, it is almost certain that a jury would award at the absolute bottom of the range for infringement: $750.  Potentially, because of the vague nature of fair use for noncommercial purposes, it might even be the $200 statutory penalty.  A judge might even reduce it below either of those levels (which they have within their discretion to do) because the actual economic damage is so slight.   But it would cost at least $10,000 to get to trial--and there is essentially no chance of getting any of those legal fees from the plaintiffs, even if we won the case completely.  Theoretically, judges can award defendant's costs if the plaintiff loses his case.  But I've discovered that there is a lot of stuff that is theoretically possible in law, but doesn't seem to actually happen.


  1. Where will you go, though? Where can any of us go?

    We need you here.

    Let me just say that hearing you of all people saying things like this is truly frightening; it means the Endarkenment is further along than I knew, and I thought it was bad.

    I fear you are right -- the America that I grew up in is dying, strangled by my generation.

    With any luck, though, the phoenix will rise from the ashes of its dying parent, and if it does, it will be because of people like you.

    Is it time, perhaps, to consider the possibility that a system this broken does not deserve your obedience?

  2. I find this sort of talk (threats to leave the country) off-putting when engaged in by liberals and I can't say I find it any more appealing coming from a conservative.

    As I understand it you could probably settle this case by paying a relatively small amount of money. While I understand why you are reluctant to do so and if it had happened to me I would be furious also, settling would not be the end of the world. It is difficult to go through life without encountering the occasional arbitrary and completely unfair misfortune.

  3. Most defendants who have called Righthaven without a lawyer are told $7500--some are told "low five figures" for a single claim of infringement. If this went to court, the judgment would be probably a few hundred dollars. But it would cost $10,000 to get to court, and the chances of getting any of this back are nil.

  4. As bad as it is, it's worse in other countries. What we need is to steer the course of the country back to where it's Founders intended.

    To do that, we need people like you to blog.

    I think the response from Instapundit readers is a better indicator of what this country is like than the actions by bottom feeding lawyers.

    Be optimistic, stay in the fight.

  5. What they are asking for and what they will take aren't the same. You don't have a lot to lose (other than the principle of the thing of course) by offering say $200 and seeing what they respond. You probably are better off making the offer through a lawyer so they know that they won't get a cheap default judgement if they don't settle. They don't actually want to go to trial either.

  6. I am biased, I suppose, since I am a lawyer, but this situation is really not representative of the legal system as a whole.

    Copyright law needs to be reformed - that's the bottom line. The Righthaven "business model" would not work for other types of lawsuits.

    I know our legal system is not perfect, and what Righthaven is doing is reprehensible, but I don't think it's an indictment of our entire legal system.

  7. Bill, maybe this isn't representative. But what I see right now inclines me to burn the whole system down. I am that angry. I would love to see copyright law reformed. I would love to see a system whereby you can't get default judgments based on a single process server's false claims of having served someone. But unless the legal profession starts working on fixing these things, the baby is going to have go out with this very dirty bath water.

  8. Mr. Shearer: you are correct that you have to go through a lawyer to have any serious pushback. And you are correct that they don't dare go to trial on this. But then again, they don't need to go to trial. They can just bleed us to death until a trial is a Pyrrhic victory. If you spend $10,000 on your own attorneys getting to trial, and $20,000 winning the case--where are you then? $30,000 in the hole.

  9. Clayton,
    Many of us have thought about leaving the country for various reasons. Certainly there are many in the U.S. who are evil or, at best, really bad folks. The fact that a politician from Chicago, a known garden of utterly corrupt politicians, was elected to national office tells us there are lots of bad folks in politics.

    But, where would you go?There are some places that are enticing -- Australia, Canada, or even Denmark. But, you'll have to give up any thought of self-defense if you go there.

  10. The Optimist thinks that this is the best country in the world. The Pessimist knows this is true.

  11. You know, if this does go to a jury, you might consider some sort of a countersuit. As a potential juror, I'd love some way to crucify Righthaven. Frankly I consider the rules of the 'rule of law' irreparably broken and don't feel compelled to play in good faith anymore. So if I'm on a jury, it's all a question of 'who-whom', not a question of what some statute says. So be sure to give would-be nullifiers like myself something to work with.