Righthaven copyright suits tossed in Colorado, too
In the last year, newspaper copyright troll Righthaven has brought its dubious lawsuits in two states: Nevada and Colorado. (Update: a lawyer in South Carolina says Righthaven filed a single case there as well.) With a new ruling today from a Colorado federal judge overseeing all of Righthaven’s cases there, courts in both states have now told Righthaven to take a hike—and to pay court costs before it goes.
Righthaven’s business model has been based largely on suing small-time bloggers and forum posters who have copied articles or photos from the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Denver Post. When threatened with a federal lawsuit for copyright infringement, many of these users decided to settle for a few thousand dollars instead. It turns out they needn’t have done so, however; Righthaven never had the right to sue them in the first place.
That’s because the operating agreement between Righthaven and the newspapers only gave Righthaven a bare right to sue. But a Nevada judge overseeing numerous Righthaven cases looked at the agreement and ruled that there was no such right in copyright law and that only a true copyright holder could litigate in defense of its own works.
Today, Judge John Kane in Colorado came to the same conclusion in one of the numerous Righthaven cases he oversees there. In his view, the assignment of a bare right to sue runs counter to the constitutional goal of furthering progress in the arts and sciences—the stated justification for copyright.