No surprise here, but it looks like other Nevada federal judges are starting to follow the lead of U.S. Judge Roger Hunt, who ruled on Friday that newspaper copyright enforcer Righthaven doesn’t have standing to sue in most of the 200+ lawsuits it has filed. Yesterday, Righthaven’s lawsuit against Wayne Hoehn was thrown out on two different grounds.
U.S. District Judge Philip Pro ruled that Righthaven didn’t have standing to sue in the first place, because of flaws in its contract with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. And just for good measure, he also found that Hoehn’s re-posting of the R-J article was fair use. Even though Hoehn re-posted the full article, it’s fair use because it didn’t compete with the market for the original in any way, wrote Pro in his order [PDF].
The Hoehn lawsuit is one of the first Righthaven lawsuits filed against online commenters, a practice that Righthaven kicked off in January. Hoehn had re-posted an op-ed article titled “Public Employee Pensions: We Can’t Afford Them” in the discussion forum of a website called MadJackSports.com. The website itself was also sued by Righthaven-before Hoehn was sued-but settled for an undisclosed sum.
Meanwhile, the newspaper industry’s biggest cheerleader for Righthaven-Sherman Frederick, former publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal-offered an odd response to the recent setbacks in a weekend blog post. Frederick doesn’t address the details of Righthaven’s setbacks, but says that “unthinking bloggers” are simply “mischaracterizing reality.” But what caught the attention of Righthaven observers is that Frederick’s own blog post is almost entirely cut-and-pasted from a blog called Gametime IP, written by Texas IP lawyer Patrick Anderson. (While not really a Righthaven supporter, Anderson has been much less critical of the group than other observers.) There are links to the Gametime IP blog, but Frederick really doesn’t make clear that nearly his entire post is one big quote. It is odd behavior for a man who’s gone out of his way to fight online content theft, and even sued bloggers for using excerpts of R-J content.