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Is This the End of Righthaven?

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the fail-fast-and-often dept.

The Media 71

New submitter Serpents writes "The new management of MediaNews Group (owner of the Denver Post) decided to terminate their contract with Righthaven. So far, the infamous copyright troll has lost all the infringement lawsuits they've filed (although it seems they've managed to settle out of court in a dozen cases or so). Is it possible this will finally spell Righthaven's doom?" The new CEO of MediaNews said that while the copyright issues are real, the involvement of Righthaven was "a dumb idea from the start."

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"The media" icon (-1, Offtopic)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 3 years ago | (#37355966)

Wow, that's really the worst icon I've ever seen. I had no idea what it was until I moused-over. The red really conflicts with the green too.

Re:"The media" icon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37356106)

It's a sex toy, right? I mean, Taco has left the building and the children have taken over, right?

Re:"The media" icon (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 3 years ago | (#37356256)

I thought it was some magic spaceage pen or something. I can see sex toy. Maybe even robot dog penis.

Re:"The media" icon (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357900)

Isn't it the Sony 'Move' controller? (Is that still being sold?)

Re:"The media" icon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37356328)

It is supposed to stand out. If it blended perfectly with the background, it wouldn't have much point now, would it?

It is a perfectly fine icon for "The Media", the bulbous Microphone is one of the first things people think about when it comes to media, someone coming at you to interview you.
While it has transitioned more to the compact electric-shaver like design in recent years for certain internal-run operations, these ones are still used in many places, especially in places where brand recognition is wanted in external operations such as interviews.

Re:"The media" icon (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 3 years ago | (#37356816)

With those particular colors, it simply looks like geometric shapes, not a microphone.

Re:"The media" icon (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357156)

Agreed. Continuing this adventure into off-topicness, it really should just be black and white.

Re:"The media" icon (1)

desdinova 216 (2000908) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357830)

I thought it was an OK looking Icon of a Microphone. does this mean there's something wrong with me?

1 down (3, Insightful)

Dthief (1700318) | more than 3 years ago | (#37356092)

30,000 trolls to go?

Re:1 down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37356254)

Nope. Another big name (*cough* Apple *cough*) and others will just scurry away.

Re:1 down (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 3 years ago | (#37356694)

Heh, I was thinking Google. Or Microsoft. Or Oracle. Or IBM.

Re:1 down (1)

E IS mC(Square) (721736) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357222)

Then you were thinking wrong.

Re:1 down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37357434)

30,000 copyright trolls on the wall,
30,000 copyright trolls.
Shoot one down;
Two more come around.
30,001 copyright trolls on the wall.

We could be here for a while.

In other news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37356186)

No one gives a fuck.

Yes it's the end (5, Informative)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 3 years ago | (#37356210)

Righthaven says it might have to file for bankruptcy [vegasinc.com]
"Despite its backing by the billionaire Warren Stephens family, Las Vegas copyright lawsuit filer Righthaven LLC warned today it may have to file for bankruptcy because of a series of setbacks in its litigation campaign.

The warning came in an emergency request by Righthaven to a federal judge in Las Vegas that he stay his order that Righthaven pay $34,045 in legal fees to attorneys who successfully defended Kentucky message board poster Wayne Hoehn against a Righthaven lawsuit."

Re:Yes it's the end (2)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 3 years ago | (#37356294)

hmmm.... so, company hires copyright troll. copyright troll creates quite a fuss, creates a bunch of lawsuits, causes a number of other groups to spend lots of money on the suits.

company loses all of the lawsuits, declares bankruptcy before they can be forced to pay back any of the costs their lawsuits created.

way too many steps, but... ???, PROFIT?

should defendants be able to sue MediaNews Group for those costs?

Re:Yes it's the end (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#37356388)

I think the complainants should be chained to a wall and the defendants each given a baseball bat and one swing per complainant.

Re:Yes it's the end (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 3 years ago | (#37356470)

Not really profit, no.

AFAIK, bankruptcy doesn't let you get away from paying for stuff. It means that a court will determine who has priority and who will get screwed out of the money they're owed.

I don't think Righthaven is going to be recreated. They've proved to be a miserable failure, doing what they did no doubt cost quite a bit of money for the lawsuits they lost. The only point in reforming it would be if the people involved really thought that losing money in this manner was worth it, because it sure doesn't look like they're going to earn any.

Re:recreated (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#37356604)

I'll take the cynical view that it absolutely will get recreated.

Copyright lawsuits are the new hotness! Plus the poster above nailed it - they absolutely do profit because they take their salaries out of the shell company, then declare bankruptcy before paying anyone anything. Then next week "Intellectual Promotions Group" forms, and starts all over. It's one of the deadliest business hacks ever.

Re:recreated (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 3 years ago | (#37356814)

And whose pocket do those salaries and lawyer fees come from? The company has to be funded somehow. Their client now thinks it was a bad idea.

As a business it doesn't seem to be working. The only way I see this continue is if somebody really thinks this is worth losing money on, out of some sense of retribution or something like that.

Re:recreated (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357820)

The amount of money R. spent is peanuts compared to the fun they had! Instilling fear in the public is worth lots of subsidiary money. It is creating our Guilty Until Proven Innocent culture that can then be applied elsewhere.

Re:recreated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37358226)

It works as a R&D lab for spurious lawsuits. They get to throw stuff at the wall and see if anything sticks without it costing a dime in real-dollar terms.

Re:recreated (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 3 years ago | (#37359458)

Yup, just make sure you take your profits before you go under. Bankruptcy will take money out of the company but they won't be able to claw back salaries given to the executives, or undo the perks that they got. A CEO of a failed company is not a failed CEO. They're a hot commodity. Even if your company failed it means you have some invaluable executive experience! CEOs are rarely created new, they're more often recycled. Having a network of investors or having gone through the process of going public is far more valuable to some companies than in being able to lead or understand the industry.

Re:Yes it's the end (2)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 3 years ago | (#37356606)

well, Q was hired by company X to do Y. Y incurred lots of costs to other people that Q can't make good on because they go bankrupt. Can people sue X?

Re:Yes it's the end (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37356644)

No, you just become a "creditor" - probably last in line.
You'll get whatever's left over after paying the utilities, etc.

Re:Yes it's the end (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 3 years ago | (#37356800)

The company doesn't profit, but the people who ran it very well might. A corporation (be design) insulates those who run it from the financial difficulties of the company, meaning any million-dollar bonuses (which may or may not have happened, I have absolutely no idea) that the CEO or lawyers may have received, he/she/they don't have to pay back. Someone profited.

Re:Yes it's the end (5, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#37356926)

And you can be sure that defendants who have spent their hard-earned money will be near the bottom of the list. And you can also be sure that the lawyers who created this obscenity made good and sure they were insulated from it. You can be sure that the company never had anything meaningful in the way of assets, so there's nothing for creditors to take a bite of. The lawyers who created Righthaven will still be practicing law tomorrow, will still be living in their houses tomorrow, still be driving their cars tomorrow, their wives and/or girlfriends will still be getting expensive manicures tomorrow.

That any legal system allows something like this to be perpetrated and affords the perpetrators the level of protection these shysters will get isn't worth a damn. Those guys should lose everything and should be thrown in prison and never ever be allowed to practice law anywhere in the United States ever again.

Re:Yes it's the end (1)

alexo (9335) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357388)

You're new on this planet, aren't you?

Re:Yes it's the end (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358372)

And you can be sure that defendants who have spent their hard-earned money will be near the bottom of the list

I'm not sure where court ordered payments go, but I'd surprised if they were at the bottom.

Indeed...

judgment creditor n. the winning plaintiff in a lawsuit to whom the court decides the defendant owes money. A judgment creditor can use various means to collect the judgment. The judgment is good for a specified number of years and then may be renewed by a filed request. If the defendant debtor files for bankruptcy, the judgment creditor will have priority (the right to share in assets) ahead of general creditors who are not secured by mortgages or deeds of trust and do not have judgments. However, if the bankrupt person has no assets, this becomes an empty advantage.

Hmmm...it looks like they come ahead of most creditors. Secured debts are first... bank mortgages, bond holders... then judgement creditors... then everyone else. That's not too bad really.

Re:Yes it's the end (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#37360182)

Sure they can profit friend, you just don't know how the game is played!

You see they have already cost their targets money in lawsuits and court fees while at the same time getting salary from the shell corp which didn't have any assets! All the copyrights? Actually owned by Stephens Media NOT them, so they have NOTHING to lose. Since the real assets aren't in the shell corp they can just fold up their tents and then be "hired' by a NEW shell corp and cost more targets more monies!

I can see this working like a SLAPP, since even if you "win" against them you are out real money yet all you will get in return is an IOU. I'm sure that if they pull this scam a couple of times businesses will get the message that it is better just to settle than to lose money fighting a court battle against someone with no assets but infinite lawyer access.

Re:Yes it's the end (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37356642)

Yes. MNG's agreement with RightHaven cleary contemplated abuse of process , i.e., was a conspiracy to commit tortious acts. Pretty easy case - all the evidence you need is right in the contract.

Another possibility is you could sue RightHaven's lawyers. Launching (how many? dozens?) of lawsuits (and sending who knows how many threating letters) without even having STANDING? That's first-semester law school stuff right there. If RightHaven weren't allowed to go bankrupt, they'd be suing their lawyers for malpractice in order to get the money to reimburse their victims. I think this case may be blatant enough that a victim could sue the lawyer directly. Lawyers have a duty not just to their own clients, but to be officers of the court and to serve justice. Duty + Breach + Damage = Tort. The tricky part is that they have no special duty to the lawsuit victims, you have to argue that participating in the lawsuit breached a general duty. Normally the lawyer's special duty to his client will shield him, but that would be void in cases of obvious fraud and abuse.

Re:Yes it's the end (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#37356956)

If you just sunk $30,000 into defending yourself, would you contemplate probably spending a good fraction of that again going after the lawyers? The people who had to defend themselves shouldn't have to. The legal system should automatically do it for them.

Re:Yes it's the end (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37357124)

Actually, the legal costs for going after the lawyers would be many times higher than the costs of a successful defense.

The defense was basically one motion (after lots of fighting about discovery, in order to get your hands on the contract that proved lack of standing). Getting money out of the lawyers will probably mean going all the way to trial, and a likely appeal. Plus you'd expect the lawyers to be from a firm that's big enough to fight nasty.

So you're right, nobody is going to go through that for $30,000. Maybe as a class action, though.

Re:Yes it's the end (2)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 3 years ago | (#37356946)

It sounds to me as though the respondents should be able to sue Warren Stevens.

One of the reasons that a judge will pierce the corporate veil is undercapitalization, particularly if it is intentional. $34,000 is a ton of money to you or me, but it's not a ton to a company and especially not one funded by a billionaire. "We lost a lawsuit and have to pay attorney fees in one case, we're bankrupt!" sounds undercapitalized to me. For what amounts to a legal group, that is one of the costs of doing business.

Re:Yes it's the end (0)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357480)

Yes;
  1. 1. Hire cr troll
  2. 2. Create FUD
  3. 3. ???
  4. 4. PROFIT!

Re:Yes it's the end (1)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 3 years ago | (#37372322)

Stephens Media was responsible for the scumballs. MediaNews Group was just sucked in by the $ signs. And their new leader seems to be a bit of a smarter cookie than the last.

Re:Yes it's the end (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37356548)

Time for the judge to pierce the veil of the LLC and make the Stephens family and all the other backer of Righthaven feel some pain. If ever there was fraud and/or misrepresentation, this is it.

Re:Yes it's the end (0)

sconeu (64226) | more than 3 years ago | (#37356556)

Righthaven LLC warned today it may have to file for bankruptcy because of a series of setbacks in its litigation campaign.

Let me correct that for TFA authors.

Righthaven LLC warned today it may have to file for bankruptcy because of a series of setbacks in its extortion campaign

Re:Yes it's the end (0)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357024)

Let's not be so fast to judge - Wayne Hoehn is no hero. First, he's from Kentucky, a well-known redneck state. Second, he's a crazy Vietnam veteran [veteransnewsnow.com] . This white man killed nonwhites because they opposed Nixon! While we can all say that Righthaven isn't the good guy, Hoehn is certainly not on the good side either. It's like the Joker vs. the Riddler: whoever wins, we lose.

Re:Yes it's the end (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37357258)

You're an idiot.

Re:Yes it's the end (2)

Jeng (926980) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357308)

Sounds to me that you are the one who is quick to judge.

1) Why does it matter which state he comes from? Just because California is known for hippies doesn't mean everyone in California is a hippie, same with rednecks from Kentucky. Just because he is from Kentucky does not mean he is a redneck. And if he is a redneck, why does it matter?

and

2) Can you confirm that he killed anyone in Vietnam? Can you confirm if he volunteered or was drafted? He might not have volunteered but may have instead made the best of a bad situation after all he was awarded a medal for SAVING lives.

I think you need to step back and look at why you are judging him in such a way before you go and tell other people how they should judge him.

Re:Yes it's the end (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357968)

You're certainly stupid. Not just in the sense of intelligence; it's actually part of your fundamental character. You'd be an idiot even if you were a genius. May God have mercy on your soul.

Re:Yes it's the end (1)

shugah (881805) | more than 3 years ago | (#37359648)

I feel stupider just reading this.

Re:Yes it's the end (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37361918)

"The warning came in an emergency request by Righthaven to a federal judge in Las Vegas that he stay his order that Righthaven pay $34,045 in legal fees to attorneys who successfully defended Kentucky message board poster Wayne Hoehn against a Righthaven lawsuit."

What, a mere $34000 demand and they might go bankrupt? Peanuts. That's only a small fraction of the amount of money on the line for typical $250000-per-infringement cases, and when people plead that they can't afford to defend themselves against that kind of suit, Righthaven and similar copyright trolls aren't exactly sympathetic.

Pay up, sucker.

Hope? (1)

arbulus (1095967) | more than 3 years ago | (#37356214)

We could only hope so.

Tag request (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37356242)

Please add tag "suddenoutbreakofcommonsense"

Re:Tag request (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37356474)

No.

Re:Tag request (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357338)

Um, you do know that all you have to do is click that little pencil looking icon to add your own tag?

It's around 10 times easier than making a comment.

Shell Relationship? (2)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 3 years ago | (#37356288)

I thought there was some corporate shell relationship between Righthaven and MediaNews Group? So "terminating their contract" means what, exactly?

Re:Shell Relationship? (2)

Marc_Hawke (130338) | more than 3 years ago | (#37356424)

I thought it was specifically because there wasn't "some corporate shell relationship" between the two that RightHaven started losing all their cases. They simply didn't have the rights to sue because they were just a contractor of MediaNews and didn't own anything.

Re:Shell Relationship? (1)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 3 years ago | (#37372350)

Not MediaNews. Stephens Media, owners of the Las Vegas Review Journal are the ones they're related to.

Righthaven? (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 3 years ago | (#37356314)

Only time I've heard of it has been on slashdot lol, nobody cares cause their lawsuits are untested and appeared illegitimate only to be proven so by the US courts.

I've heard ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37356360)

they are consulting with SCO about how to continue the fight.

Dibs on the wheel (1)

sacridias (2322944) | more than 3 years ago | (#37356370)

I see a whole new breed of patent trolls appearing out of the new laws.
I would be more than willing to bet the basic wheel is not patented (though more complex ones are surely under protection).
I am just waiting for the new troll type to emerge that takes existing technology without patents and files a patent, then sues for infringement
Since I am sure this is a novel concept, I call dibs on the wheel, I did not invent it, but I am sure no one has patented it, if so I am sure I can patent shoe laces, or the button up shirt.

Re:Dibs on the wheel (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 3 years ago | (#37356592)

I was going to mod you, but I think I'll be slightly more polite and just post.

Righthaven's so-called business model is entirely about copyright. The only resemblance between this story and patent trolling is the word "troll".

You didn't get "-1 Offtopic"d and I saved a mod point. Win-win.

Re:Dibs on the wheel (1)

suutar (1860506) | more than 3 years ago | (#37356890)

yeah, but once your case gets to the court, you'll lose on prior art. (If it makes it that far. A patent examiner might recognize the wheel and reject you.)

Righthaven V2 (3, Insightful)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 3 years ago | (#37356442)

Is it possible this will finally spell Righthaven's doom?

I don't think so. I think that the founders of Righthaven have taken one approach at mining the flaws in the copyright system that have become so apparent with the advent of the Internet. They were told, "You did not get the contract right." From Righthaven's perspective, this is nothing more nor less than new market information. They have learned one of the angles that does not work. Every startup has cases like this.

The next step for a startup is to analyze the failure, consider alternatives, and develop a new approach. Of course, that depends on whether they have the operating capital to continue. They may have it in their war chest. If they do not, they would have to seek a new round of funding.

Can Righthaven find some angels or VCs that would be interested? I think the answer to that is a clear, "Yes." Investors want a return on their money. Copyright enforcement has been made extremely lucrative through more than a decade of increasing strictness and penalties. That vein of cashflow exists, and is waiting to be mined. Righthaven has some existing experience in the field. Now Righthaven asks you for funding. Suppose that you believe that this kind of copyright enforcement is not wrong, or that you are antisocial; what would you decide?

Righthaven will exist for at least as long as Darl McBride. And in the unlikely event that Righthaven itself closes its doors, a clone (or several) will rise.

When the government creates revenue opportunities, they get mined. That is what our economic system is designed to do. The only sure solution, assuming one wishes to change the outcome, is to remove the revenue opportunity.

Re:Righthaven V2 (1)

rahvin112 (446269) | more than 3 years ago | (#37356996)

The problem is that no one is going to transfer their copyrights to a troll. The whole point of legal trolling is to make sure the troll company is a shell with no assets in case it loses a suit. If they actually transfer the copyrights then the shell suddenly has assets, very valuable assets that could be auctioned to pay damages.

Re:Righthaven V2 (1)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357302)

What about transferring assets split between several trolls, so the downside is limited? Then if one suit is successful, the next troll gets in line, or transfers more assets to the first for a subsequent round of suits, or the first hangs onto a good share of the rewards as a war chest for more lawsuits and stops depending on new capital support from the original company for a time, and various permutations on these. It shouldn't be feasible, but that's because the right to sue is by itself not worth anything in isolation, nor grounds by itself for claiming standing. Owning even limited shares in some other rights, with a limited right of control, might still allow claiming standing.

Yeah, this is non-lawyer speculation and worth every penny of free. I base it on two points:
1. Lawsuits are generally against the entity with the most money, regardless of whether that entity has the majority or largest single share of the responsibility for damages. Does that imply that lawsuits can be from a party with little to gain directly because they will have to pass most of the reward for success on to a parent rights holder, just so they have something to gain?
2. Unlike trademarks, copyrights and patents don't have to be defended. One party holding a small share can elect to 'aggressively pursue its rights' without others having to.

So the question becomes: Is it possible to so encumber a transfer of rights that it has little or no value if exercised in any way except suing, while still giving the appearance that the transferee gains legal standing?

Re:Righthaven V2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37362868)

Well, yeah. The rights to old newspaper articles, for example: individually, they're worthless. Or old PC games, or whatever.

But, that's what these cases determined: the right to sue is an inexorable part of copyright. You can't hold one without the other.

Ep... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37356866)

Settlers (1)

tsotha (720379) | more than 3 years ago | (#37356904)

although it seems they've managed to settle out of court in a dozen cases or so

Hah! Wouldn't you feel like a genius if you were one of those dozen?

Righthaven isn't done until.... (3, Funny)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#37356998)

...the lawyers are disbarred, the company closed, their offices destroyed, and the land salted with plutonium dust.

Righthaven Delenda Est!

--
BMO

Re:Righthaven isn't done until.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37357314)

No, kill the lawyers, burn their bodies and spread their ashes on the land. That will make plutonium unnecessary.

Re:Righthaven isn't done until.... (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357988)

This should be handled legally. When a company is bankrupt the natural course of action is to liquidate the assets. Righthaven's only assets are its lawyers. Liquidate the lawyers and sell their organs to settle the debts.

Re:Righthaven isn't done until.... (1)

Serpents (1831432) | more than 3 years ago | (#37374660)

Lungs, kidneys and livers perhaps; but you'd be hard pressed to find even one heart among them

Re:Righthaven isn't done until.... (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | more than 3 years ago | (#37375076)

Truth, my friend. Reports of lawyers dying from heart failure are a cover for the real cause - dying from shame

Re:Righthaven isn't done until.... (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 3 years ago | (#37358114)

Sally Struthers: "It doesn't take much to make a difference in these childrens lives. Just a few grams of plutonium could provide all the power that Benny, or millions of children like him, needs for his entire life."

Re:Righthaven isn't done until.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37358660)

OK, but plutonium dust is expensive. Maybe we could cut it with ground up Pet Rocks and Lady Gaga CD's ...

Nope (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#37357280)

Arresting and prosecuting the executive officers of Righthaven would be the actual end of it. As long as Sauron and Darl and Gibson still roam free, it's not an end. Sequels are likely.

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