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Intellectual Property Law

Threat Level: What’s Lower Than a Copyright Troll? A Sham Copyright Troll Licensed to Litigate

Posted Apr 19, 2011 5:11 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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No fan of so-called copyright or patent trolls that litigate over purchased intellectual property rights, a law blog has discovered that it is possible, in its moral scheme of things, to sink even lower.

A "copyright litigation factory," known as Righthaven, doesn't even own the copyrighted newspaper articles at issue in litigation it is pursuing. The federal court cases in Nevada seek damages for alleged infringement from bloggers, reports the Threat Level blog of Wired.

However, the group has apparently obtained licenses to litigate on the true copyright owner's behalf, the Threat Level post explains, relying on information from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a copy (scroll down) of the "Strategic Alliance" licensing agreement at issue (PDF).

Initially filed under seal and then made public by a federal judge in Nevada, the agreement gives Righthaven an exclusive right to pursue copyright claims on behalf of the actual owner, Stephens Media.

Neither Righthaven nor Stephens Media responded to requests for comment by Threat Level. However, chief executive officer Steve Gibson of Righthaven told Threat Level last year that copyrights owned by media companies are assets that litigation can enhance.

“These companies need to understand and appreciate," he said, "that those assets have value more than merely the present advertising revenues.”

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Copyright Troll Righthaven Loses First Suit; Copying Was Fair Use, Judge Ruled"

ABAJournal.com: "Citing a Clerical Mistake, Righthaven Drops Copyright Claim Against Journalist Covering Its Suit"

Las Vegas Sun: "After Righthaven defies judge, observers question company’s motives"

Las Vegas Sun (opinion): "Is Righthaven about to get some payback?"

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