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Righthaven Loses In Colorado; Abused the Copyright Act

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the shadenfreude-goes-great-with-fresh-powder dept.

The Courts 43

First time accepted submitter djl4570 writes "Federal Judge John Kane ruled that Righthaven LLC of Las Vegas lacked standing to file copyright infringement lawsuits in Colorado under its lawsuit contract with the Denver Post and abused the Copyright Act in doing so. Righthaven was ordered to reimburse the defendant his costs including reasonable attorneys fees."

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43 comments

I have nothing useful to say (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#37554886)

But I just want to say "up yours righthaven! up yours and all other copyright industry jackholes!"

Thanks. I feel better now.

Still no punishment. (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37554944)

Paying the defendents costs is nothing really. It's a very small step towards making the defendents whole. What really needs to happen is disbarment for any lawyers in this firm. Bullying people with the legal system is not legal.

Re:Still no punishment. (2)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#37555022)

Bullying people with the legal system is not legal.

But it is. It shouldn't be, but right now it is. I wonder if it is related to the fact that everyone who makes the law is a lawyer...

Re:Still no punishment. (2)

spottedkangaroo (451692) | more than 2 years ago | (#37555444)

It's legal but actionable. You can sue for "malicious prosecution." personally, I think they have a case... but I wouldn't' know.

Re:Still no punishment. (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 2 years ago | (#37555718)

No, like most perceived Slashdot Conspiracies this one is actually once again the least of two evils.

Think about this for one moment, if you go up against a corporation who is more likely to win? Regardless of your case or righteousness, who has the resources to defend/attack you in a trial?

So if you could be tried very easily for malicious prosecution (or the loser of every case had to pay unreasonable legal fees) then no small player would ever risk filing a lawsuit even when they were wronged.

Sure you can be bullied by the legal system but at least you can bully back.

Re:Still no punishment. (2)

whoever57 (658626) | more than 2 years ago | (#37556686)

Bullying people with the legal system is not legal.

But it is. It shouldn't be, but right now it is. I wonder if it is related to the fact that everyone who makes the law is a lawyer...

When does it become criminal extortion? Everything Righthaven did fits the definition on Wikipedia -- but taking legal advice from Wikipedia is a very bad idea. Righthaven used threats to coerce people into giving them money. If they were not the copyright owners, the threats amounted to something along the lines of "we will cost you a lot of money unless you give us some money now". Suing people is a protected activity, but if RIghthaven got settlements based on a mere threat to sue, is that protected?

Re:Still no punishment. (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 2 years ago | (#37555034)

...except that it is legal.

Re:Still no punishment. (3)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 2 years ago | (#37555140)

Plain 'ol bullying is barratry.

        * Barratry, in criminal and civil law, is the act or practice of bringing repeated legal actions solely to harass. This action is a crime in some jurisdictions.

Re:Still no punishment. (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#37559554)

The problem is that it isn't "solely to harass". It's to get the defendants to cough up money to avoid an even more costly lawsuit.
It's also not "repeated"; they pick new defendants.

Of course it should be illegal, and possibly is under other laws against abusing the legal system.

Re:Still no punishment. (1)

black soap (2201626) | more than 2 years ago | (#37555516)

What really needs to happen is they need to have to pay extra penalty, to be set aside to fight just the sort of thing they tried to do. Also, disbar or dismember the guilty attorneys.

Re:I have nothing useful to say (1)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 2 years ago | (#37555008)

I move that the official nickname be "Trollhaven"

Re:I have nothing useful to say (1)

lostmongoose (1094523) | more than 2 years ago | (#37555142)

East Texas Federal Court District already holds that nickname near and dear to it's heart.

Re:I have nothing useful to say (1)

black soap (2201626) | more than 2 years ago | (#37555550)

East Texas Federal Court District already holds that nickname near and dear to it's heart.

Troll Bayou or Troll Hollow, perhaps, but I'm pretty sure "Trollhaven" is up for grabs.

Re:I have nothing useful to say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37555188)

surely "Blighthaven" would be more fitting?

There is no such thing.... (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#37554994)

as "reasonable legal fees."

$300.00 an hour is the bottom feeder discount price. a "good" lawyer runs well over $1200.00 an hour.

Re:There is no such thing.... (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 2 years ago | (#37555138)

The "Shop Rate" for my 1st amendment lawyer (farmersreallysucks.com) was $10K/hour.
She did the work pro-bono, but had I the resources (or had she not thought my cause was just) I'm sure I would have been paying.
-nB

Re:There is no such thing.... (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 2 years ago | (#37555442)

"reasonable fees" in legalese means exactly that. When presented with the bill, the opposition can challenge the amount of hours, billing rate, and any additional fees as "unreasonable". When figuring out billing rate, the judge will limit it to what an average lawyer from that area and practicing that specialty would get. So no charging 1200/ hour unless the lawyer can demonstrate why he/she should get it. Also the judge can cut the number of hours as lawyers have to detail what they did for each hour. 100 hours to read a single 10 page deposition won't fly. Neither will $4 per page for copying fees.

Re:There is no such thing.... (1)

reebmmm (939463) | more than 2 years ago | (#37555650)

$1200/hr is quite steep no matter who you are. In the US, few lawyers bill more than $1000/hr. That said, it's common to see senior partners in things like IP litigation haul in 600-700/hr at the high end.

A junior partner, senior associate at a decent sized law firm might charge between $400 and 500/hr.

These rates are then blended with lower cost paralegals and associates for a lower overall cost. No one wants the senior partner review documents or sitting second chair at a deposition.

As a result, most places though, when computing "reasonable attorneys' fees" charge lodestar rates at the same number of hours. Those rates tend to be lower than the actual rates.

Frankly, no one should go into litigation assuming that an atty's fee award will cover the entire cost of fees.

Re:There is no such thing.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37555820)

Bottom feeder is about 70 an hour. Look around... That rate is usually for fresh out of college and want to get some sort of clients...

Re:There is no such thing.... (1)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 2 years ago | (#37556228)

I read a study/survey a few years ago that showed the average lawyer made about $60,000 per year, while the same year the average sysadmin made about $62,000. Prices for both are up now, but I wouldn't be surprised if the ratios are about the same.

Also IIRC during the Microsoft antitrust case the MS attorney David Boies' standard billing rate was cited as $600 per hour, for one of the top litigation lawyers in the US. That was a while back, of course, and I could be completely wrong. According to an article I was just looking at [typepad.com] , partner billing rates at many firms are set artificially high to prevent anyone from hiring them on an hourly basis. Quote:

Noted litigator David Boies (formerly partner at Cravath and now principal at his own firm, Boies, Schiller & Flexner) criticized the rates in a quote in the article:

        Frankly, it's a little hard to think about anyone who doesn't save lives being worth this much money," says David Boies, one of the nation's best-known trial lawyers, at the Armonk, N.Y., office of Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP.

    Another lawyer, Steve Sussman (who often handles high-stakes contingency matters), explains that the hourly fee of $1,100 is intended in part to discourage anyone from hiring him on an hourly basis.

... pet peeve - Internet articles that are not dated. I finally found a posted-by date at the bottom, of 2007.

It ain't over... (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#37554996)

Until the fat lady... Uh ...until the appeals are done. It is a very good sign, but it can still be overturned by an idiot judge higher up. Until the supreme court rules, it is still a potentially expensive battle.

Re:It ain't over... (1)

JustSomeProgrammer (1881750) | more than 2 years ago | (#37555064)

You can appeal if the judge says you have no standing? I thought you could only appeal verdicts bit a judges decision that you had no ground so he refused to hear the case.

Re:It ain't over... (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 2 years ago | (#37555158)

yes, you can appeal, but the appellate court can refuse on the same grounds (as I expect they would).

Re:It ain't over... (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 2 years ago | (#37555510)

Yes the appeal court can accept the case to hear the case or it can refuse to hear and give their reasons. Unless Righthaven can demonstrate some legal error that the judge committed, they are not as likely to be heard. Even if the appeal court accepted the case, chances are that the appeal court will smackdown Righthaven just as hard.

Re:It ain't over... (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 2 years ago | (#37555600)

If the appellate court were as pedantic as most of /. they would agree to hear the case just so they could smack WrongHaven even harder :-)

Re:It ain't over... (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 2 years ago | (#37555714)

Actually I would like the appeal court to hear at least one of the cases because their decisions set precedent if there wasn't a precedent already. Something along the lines of "A party abusing the Copyright Act by suing without standing must pay opposing counsel attorney fees."

Re:It ain't over... (5, Funny)

Thruen (753567) | more than 2 years ago | (#37555114)

The fat lady was going to sing, but the RIAA accused her of copyright infringement and the out of court agreement bars her from singing without paying them.

Re:It ain't over... (1)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 2 years ago | (#37556310)

Ironically, IIRC the Girl Scouts have been the subject of copyright enforcement for singing 'Kumbaya' around the campfire. :P

Re:It ain't over... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37556562)

So, what do you think the penalty for singing Kumbaya ought to be?

Re:It ain't over... (1)

StormReaver (59959) | more than 2 years ago | (#37556636)

So, what do you think the penalty for singing Kumbaya ought to be?

Isn't singing it penalty enough?

Re:It ain't over... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#37558232)

If sang by Girl Scouts? Being forced to listen to it. But it might be overturned on grounds of being cruel and unusual.

Re:It ain't over... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37566038)

I'd watch it if they made a porno version.

Re:It ain't over... (1)

djl4570 (801529) | more than 2 years ago | (#37560452)

There's a discussion of this in TFA. Colorado is in the Tenth Circuit where precedent in copyright law is weak. Judge Kane did his own analysis and wrote his own opinion rather than relying on an existing Ninth Circuit Court opinion. A legal scholar quoted in TFA said that such an analysis is more likely to withstand appeal.

That's great but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37555614)

Its really nice to see these cases over music and video being actually fought in the courts. One thing thats flying a bit more under the radio is that some lawyers are now starting to file similar copyright cases against people who've downloaded content that they wouldnt be as willing to speak up about, due to the social embarassment. They're pulling plenty in "settlements" to avoid the "cost and expense of an embarassing trial", to the tune of $3-4k a pop...and theres very little being done to fight what basically amounts to extortion and blackmail.

And the lawyers involved have been filing these cases many times in the same way as the Righthaven cases, in courts where there's no proper jurisdiction.

Refreshing to see "abuse of copyright law" (2)

Quila (201335) | more than 2 years ago | (#37555620)

We see abuses all around, especially in the form of EULAs and DMCA, but judges rarely call it for what it is, and in fact usually let the abuse stand. I can only hope this is the beginning of a positive trend.

Next, I can't wait for a court to rule a copyright law by Congress is an abuse of the Copyright Clause. Unfortunately, SCOTUS tucks its tail between its legs when it comes to this.

Have they ever won a case? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#37558266)

I mean, not that I'd wish it to change, but have they ever actually won any case they tried their hands at? How long 'til the average reaction is kinda like this:

"Oh no, we got sued for copyright infringement!"
"By whom?"
"Righthaven"
"Do you have to scare me like that? I already thought it was someone serious."

Re:Have they ever won a case? (1)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 2 years ago | (#37566200)

They don't have to win cases. They just need enough people to be afraid that they pay up without a fight and never take it to court.

Re:Have they ever won a case? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#37570586)

That strategy kinda fizzles when every time someone actually has the guts to go to court with them, they lose their case. It's like getting sued by your batshit crazy neighbor. The first two or three times you might be worrying, after that, you just hand it to whatever lawyer you can get your hands on and wave him to court with full power 'cause you simply don't take that loonie serious anymore.

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