Saturday, April 16, 2011

Righthaven Again

The details of the contract between Righthaven and Stevens Media (owner of the Las Vegas Review-Journal) have been unsealed in a court case, much against Righthaven's wishes.  Having read the contract in detail now, I can see why they are upset.  It turns out that contrary to the claims made in the lawsuits that they filed against hundreds of people (me included), they were not the owners of the copyright.  As Legal Satyricon (who just also happens to be the attorney whose firm defended us) points out, this is a big problem for Righthaven:
For those of you lack fluency in Copyright law, Silvers v. Sony Pictures Entertainment, 402 F.3d 881 (2005), says that you need to assign a specific right under 17 U.S.C. § 106 – and not the bare right to sue – for a copyright assignment to be valid.  Other courts, such as Sybersound, have held that you need an exclusive right in order to sue for infringement of your copyright rights.
Hundreds of lawsuits were filed--and settlements extracted under threat of those lawsuits--with the now apparently false claim that Righthaven owned the lawsuit, and was not simply suing on behalf of Stevens Media.  Sections 3.3 and 3.4 are quite clear that Righthaven is suing on Stephens Media's behalf--not that Stephens Media has sold the copyright to Righthaven.  Stephens Media  "shall have the right to reassign any such copyright" hardly sounds like Righthaven bought the copyright at all. 

I think this is going to be a very big problem for Righthaven.  If they have any sense, they will stop suing, and make sure that they have enough money to defend themselves from the suits that are going to be filed by people who made settlements based on the apparently inaccurate claims in those suits that Righthaven owned the copyright.

UPDATE: There seems to be other provisions of this contract that do seem to grant them copyright ownership.  Very confusing.


  1. I assume you can't afford to sue them back. Too bad, that.

  2. Actually I think now you will have no problem find a lawyer to take your case. This is almost a slam dunk money maker for any lawyer. In fact I would not be surprised if lawyers start seeking out past victims. This is like blood in the water for sharks. All past victims need to counter sue if they can even if you settled. Coerced agreements are not inforcable especially when they were improperly obtained.

  3. You should seek out a lawyer to have your settlement expunged and then counter sue. There is now blood in the water and soon there will be lawyers swarming to find past victims. Coerced settlements are not enforceable especially when they were improperly obtained. This could be your gravy train. Take it. Make Righthaven pay.

  4. Class action lawsuit by everyone Righthaven sued....