Legal Ethics

As Judge Considers Righthaven Sanctions, Bloggers Who Settled Mull Options

A federal judge’s ruling that a copyright troll had no standing to sue for copyright violations has bloggers who already settled lawsuits mulling their next step.

Chief U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt of Nevada tossed the suit against Righthaven on Tuesday. The judge ruled the company had no standing to sue over copyright violations of articles published by the Las Vegas Review-Journal because the newspaper’s parent company, Stephens Media, had retained rights to the articles. He also issued an order to show cause why Righthaven should not be sanctioned. The MediaPost blog and Wired’s Threat Level blog have stories.

An agreement between the two companies assigns to Righthaven “the mere right to sue,” Hunt wrote in his opinion (PDF), and Righthaven’s claim to the contrary is “disingenuous, if not outright deceitful.” Hunt also labels “disingenuous” Righthaven’s citation to other courts that found standing. Those courts had been led to believe that Righthaven was the true owner of the copyright and had not been told Stephens Media was an interested party, despite a right to lawsuit proceeds, Hunt wrote.

Hunt ruled in a suit against the Democratic Underground blog. His opinion has bloggers who already settled with Righthaven considering their options, according to the Wired blog Threat Level.

Marc Randazza, a Miami lawyer who represented about a dozen Righthaven defendants who settled, mentioned the idea of a class action in a phone interview with Threat Level. He said he was discussing the situation with his clients.

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