Righthaven Responds To Fine-‘A Day Late And $5,000 Short’

Controversial copyright-enforcer Righthaven continues to fumble in its case against Democratic Underground; a lawsuit that’s already been thrown out and has resulted in a $5,000 fine against Righthaven. Now it’s asking to get out of paying that fine promptly, and has filed-one day late-a motion asking for leniency.

The response of Judge Roger Hunt, who is overseeing the case, indicates he’s none too impressed with Righthaven’s latest moves.

Righthaven was told to pay the fine two weeks ago for not disclosing its financial relationship with Stephens Media before filing its hundreds of copyright lawsuits. By not disclosing, Righthaven had violated Nevada’s local rules of litigation, the judge found.

The controversial copyright enforcer was also told to give all the defendants it is still suing a transcript of the July 14 hearing. It’s during that hearing when Hunt said that Righthaven should pay $5,000 as a sanction, and had made statements to the court that were “intentionally untrue.”

Instead of paying its fine, Righthaven filed more paperwork on Friday-a day after the deadline for payment-indicating that it has “additionally researched potential grounds to appeal the monetary sanction imposed by the court.” That research “has taken a significant period of time” and Righthaven wants to ask for a stay of the fine until it can appeal, which may not be until after final judgment is entered in the Democratic Underground case.

According to its filing, Righthaven has 78 cases still pending based on the original copyright agreement it reached with Stephens Media. Remarkably, Righthaven discloses that it still hasn’t sent copies of its lawsuits to the defendants its is suing-a step that is usually required by law. The company writes that “service of process has not been made in a significant number of these cases.” The disclosure suggests Righthaven was much more focused on squeezing defendants for quick settlement cash than complying with legal formalities.

Righthaven also said it wasn’t able to get a copy of the transcript until July 26-even though it was publicly filed in another case on July 20 and became available to the public at that time.

Lawyers for the Democratic Underground, from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Fenwick & West, objected [PDF] to the extension, saying that Righthaven should have to pay its sanction immediately, and noting that the company didn’t file until late Friday-“a day late and $5,000 short of complying with the Court’s Order.”

In any case, Hunt today issued an order [PDF] clearing up Righthaven’s questions, although he adds that “the Court does not believe that clarification is necessary.” He also granted the delay Righthaven asked for, giving the company’s lawyers until Monday August 8 to comply with the sanctions.

But even in granting the extension, Hunt indicates how fed up with Righthaven he is, writing. “If counsel does not have time to do all that he needs to in Righthaven’s dozens of cases, the Court kindly suggests that he or Righthaven obtain additional help, not complaint to the Court about time constraints,” writes Hunt in today’s order. He adds that there will be no further extension on the $5,000 fine, and “suggests Righthaven not waste its time on a motion requesting any further relief from the sanction.”

This is the second time a Righthaven attorney has made excuses for being a day late on filing a motion in Hunt’s court. The first time was a month ago, when Righthaven attorney Shawn Mangano said that an automatic software update to his web browser made his computer suddenly incompatible with the court’s electronic filing system.