Copyright Troll’s Assets Targeted for Seizure

Marc Randazza

The legal woes of Las Vegas-based copyright-trolling firm Righthaven continued Sunday when one of its creditors moved to seize its assets.

The development comes a week after the deadline passed for the former litigation factory to pay defendant Wayne Hoehn $34,000 in legal fees for successfully defending himself against a Righthaven copyright lawsuit. Righthaven had asked U.S. District Judge Philip Pro of Nevada to stay the fee award, saying it might slip into bankruptcy if forced to pay.

No stay was granted. So Hoehn’s attorney, Marc Randazza, asked Judge Pro on Sunday to “authorize the U.S. Marshalls to execute Hoehn’s judgment through seizure of Righthaven’s bank accounts, real and personal property, and intangible intellectual property rights for levy, lien, auction or other treatment appropriate for satisfaction of Hoehn’s judgment.” (.pdf)

Righthaven was founded more than a year ago as a way to create revenue for news publications through copyright infringement lawsuits.

Randazza in an e-mail said the company has made “no effort whatsoever” to pay up.

Judge Pro ruled in June that Hoehn’s posting of an entire Las Vegas Review-Journal article was fair use, and later ordered opposing legal fees. The Copyright Act allows for legal fees to the “prevailing party.”

Steve Gibson

Steve Gibson, Righthaven’s chief executive, said Righthaven will be “ultimately vindicated in all respects.”

“There’s a fundamental discusson that still needs to be had and I believe will be had. What are we going to do about copyright infringement?” he said.

Struggling after several courtroom setbacks, Righthaven has ceased filing new lawsuits pending resolution of the Hoehn case and others on appeal. Some of the appeals question Righthaven’s legal standing to even bring lawsuits.

The lawsuit against Hoehn, one of Righthaven’s roughly 275 cases, targeted the Vietnam veteran who posted all 19 paragraphs of a November editorial from the Review-Journal. Hoehn posted the article, and its headline, “Public Employee Pensions: We Can’t Afford Them” on to prompt discussion about the financial affairs of the nation’s states. Hoehn was a user of the site, not an employee.

Gibson said it was unconceivable that using 100 percent of a story did not amount to copyright infringement. “The problem with copyright infringement on the internet is that it’s a death by a thousand cuts.”

Righthaven’s first client, Stephens Media of Las Vegas and operator of the Review-Journal, had invested $500,000 into the Righthaven operation last year.

Righthaven’s only other client, MediaNews of Denver and the publisher of the Denver Post and 50 other newspapers, is dropping Righthaven. John Paton, the media concern’s chief executive, said it was “a dumb idea” for the nation’s second-largest newspaper chain to sign up with Righthaven, and would be terminating relations at the end of September.

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