Copyright enforcement company Righthaven has filed nearly all of its lawsuits-nearly 300 now-in two states, Nevada and Colorado. Now all of the 35 cases it has pending in Colorado have been put on hold. That’s because the judge overseeing those cases wants to determine whether Righthaven has standing to sue in the first place, before the suits move forward. The contracts that the company has struck with its main newspaper clients, the Las Vegas Review-Journal and The Denver Post, are being attacked as invalid by some defense attorneys.
Righthaven has filed 57 cases in total in Colorado, according to a tally by the Las Vegas Sun, a competitor to the LV R-J. Of those, 22 have been dismissed by Righthaven and presumably settled, while 35 are still pending. Righthaven has filed a total of 274 lawsuits in Nevada, Colorado, and South Carolina.
The Colorado defendants’ argument is similar to that of the lawyers representing the Democratic Underground blog in Nevada. Because the Righthaven contract offers only the right to file lawsuits-and not other important rights that come with a copyright-it isn’t a legally valid transfer of copyright, defense lawyers are arguing. Righthaven disputes those arguments and says the agreement it has with newspapers is legal.
Righthaven was founded last year to make money by acquiring copyrights of newspaper articles, and suing websites-mostly small ones-that use them without permission. So far, websites that have been fighting back have had some success-but dozens have chosen to settle, unwilling to pay the cost of copyright litigation, which is much higher than the few Righthaven settlements which have been reported (several thousand dollars each).
In Colorado, all of Righthaven’s cases are being overseen by one judge, U.S. District Judge John Kane. That’s a contrast to Nevada, where Righthaven’s cases are being divided up between various federal judges. In earlier rulings, Kane has already showed enormous skepticism towards Righthaven’s litigation tactics.