A court document revealed that Righthaven does not have the legal rights it claims to sue bloggers and message boards for copyright infringement — a practice the company runs on.
Righthaven has filed more than 200 lawsuit in Nevada federal court and claims damages up to $150,000 to scare website owners into settling for a smaller fee and avoiding the courts. The company looks mostly for websites that break copyright on articles published by the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Denver Post.
On the surface, Righthaven claims that it gets the publisher to assign the copyright before it files the lawsuit. It needs to do this, as “copyright law does not permit a person to sue for infringement unless that person’s own copyrights,” according to digital rights organization, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).The company claims it owns the news articles it sues for infringement on.According to the EFF:
The problem is that the unsealed Strategic Alliance Agreement shows these allegations to be false. This Agreement is the master agreement that governs all the ‘assignments’ of Stephens Media news articles Righthaven has sued upon. Section 7.2 expressly denies Righthaven any rights other than to file lawsuits.
In short, the ‘assignment’ is a sham, Righthaven’s claim has been baseless from the outset. Stephens Media, which has struggled to hold the litigation at arms length, is the true and exclusive owner of the copyright and the only entity with standing to bring a copyright claim.
Photo Credit:Illustration of Alfred Smedberg’s “The boy who never was afraid”in the childrens’ anthology “Among pixies and trolls”, 1912.