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Righthaven Ordered To Turn Over Hard Drives To Creditors

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the reversal-of-fortune dept.

The Courts 51

Hugh Pickens writes "Remember Righthaven? Steve Green writes that the copyright troll who partnered with the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Denver Post to file 275 no-warning copyright infringement lawsuits in 2010 and 2011 against parties that used content from those papers without authorization has just been ordered to turn over to a creditor hard drives from its computers so the creditor could determine if Righthaven has any assets that can be liquidated for the benefit of Righthaven's creditors. Federal judges in three states rejected Righthaven's lawsuits because the company lacked standing as the newspapers — not Righthaven — maintained control of the material Righthaven was suing over. Some defendants were also cleared by the fair use doctrine in copyright law. In the aftermath of Righthaven's legal debacle, the company shut down and claimed to be broke. Creditors in another case seized its website and trademark and auctioned them. They also seized the copyrights it sued over, but they didn't sell. Meanwhile Kurt Opsahl, an attorney for the EFF, has for months been urging Judge Peggy Leen to hit Righthaven CEO Steven Gibson with 'coercive sanctions' for Righthaven's failure to turn over information that will help the EFF find Righthaven assets. 'Steven Gibson is now going to have to show some responsibility,' said Opsahl after the judge issued a court order that could cost its CEO a fine of $500 per day for non-compliance. 'The CEO of Righthaven remains responsible for taking care of the business of the company.'"

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First Post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41720981)

So much time and so little to say

Brevity in Summaries (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41720995)

... and consider Paragraphs being your friend, Sir

Re:Brevity in Summaries (3, Funny)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#41721239)

Beware meaningless Capitalisation and lack of Punctuation.

Re:Brevity in Summaries (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41724405)

Beware meaningless Capitalisation and lack of Punctuation.

Prepositions are cool. Also, your capitalisation of capitalisation and punctuation without a period at the end of the sentence would have been justified sarcasm; doing it with a period at the end implies an inventive emphasis also done in your parent, unless it's a mistake. Even Steven?

Re:Brevity in Summaries (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#41726613)

Also, your capitalisation of capitalisation and punctuation without a period at the end of the sentence would have been justified sarcasm; doing it with a period at the end implies an inventive emphasis also done in your parent, unless it's a mistake.

Deliberate irony, so I win.

Re:Brevity in Summaries (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41721839)

RUN ON SENTENCES ARE AWESOME

Re:Brevity in Summaries (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41722589)

I've submitted stuff with all nicely arranged paragraphs etc, which show when it's on the recent stories list but when it gets to the front page all that has been lost.

Posting as AC as I don't want to undo mods that I've made.

It's a technicality (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41720999)

It's still possible to be sued successfully for downloading copyrighted data.

So enjoy your hollow victory, losers. We're still coming to get you.

Re:It's a technicality (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41721109)

It's still possible to be sued successfully for downloading copyrighted data.

The USA is not among the hand full of countries that have added such a law...yet. As it stands copyright violation requires distribution (and, no, you can not distribute to yourself). ...but that's not what this case is about anyway.

Re:It's a technicality (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41721163)

It's still possible to be sued successfully for downloading copyrighted data.

So enjoy your hollow victory, losers. We're still coming to get you.

All data is copyrighted from the moment it exists in a fixed form. A very tiny fraction of that data is placed by its author into the public domain. Thus, for 99.9999% of people, 99.9999% of what they download is copyrighted.

The key point is this: Attention is more valuable than information.
That is why content producers spend millions to create attention lures; for advertising.
This is why "news" shows are light on facts and heavy on shock and awe (things to keep you watching).

Smart 21st-century businesses understand that "illegal downloaders" are not pirates; they are an incredible source of highly credible peer-to-peer marketing.
Some companies are foolish enough to poison that well. They will go the way of the buggy-whip while a smarter competitor monetizes the "pirates".

There are companies that would pay millions if they could make a piece of content "go viral" on demand.
When "illegal downloaders" are trying to gift you attention in exchange for information, take it. Only an idiot wouldn't take that trade.

Good Riddance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41721053)

Die in a fire, Righthaven.

Though this does worry me about insurance companies looking though your drives for...Well...Anything.

Oh wow... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41721057)

It's nice to see the CEO was going without a salary for a few years, banking on a payout. But I think the best part is the douchebag lawyer that did their dirty work now wants out, and the judge won't let him.

[douchebag-lawyer] also claims to have been frustrated with criticism he received for representing Righthaven, which defense attorneys say was set up as a legal shakedown operation, and that he's owed money for Righthaven legal services dating to 2011.

[douchebag-laywer] has now formally moved to withdraw from representing Righthaven, but Leen said she won't allow that until the company complies with her order Tuesday on the hard drives.

What a piece of shit. I hope he goes unpaid, and that his career is over.

Re:Oh wow... (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#41721349)

There's always a market for unscrupulous lawyers.

Re:Oh wow... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41721895)

It's nice to see the CEO was going without a salary for a few years, banking on a payout.

No he wasn't. He'll be able to claim a net loss on his income for the last few years, and if his accountant did a good job with the books, the judge is going to find that the CEO is massively in debt. Once it's all said and done, the CEO will file bankruptcy and then slowly pull his assets out of whatever shelters he's hidden them in.

Just as an example, which I've seen used in real life. Rich CEO purchases a very nice house for his daughter, for their "wedding" present, pays the taxes, etc. and now it's hers. Later on, he files bankruptcy, and once it's all final and complete she sells the house back to him as a private sale, for much less than the actual market value. She gets a break on capital gains, he gets a nice house worth much more than he paid (this time). There are many ways to vary this, and plenty of ways to use the concept without breaking any laws. Sometimes you might have to use shell companies and off-shore entities, sometimes not. The end result is the CEO takes a hit to his net worth, but in the end avoids losing most of what he really should have lost.

Re:Oh wow... (3, Informative)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 2 years ago | (#41722095)

They have a similar scam going on with all those natural gas wildcatters that are doing the fracking. you see the actual NG company doesn't "own" anything, they lease everything from the equipment to the copier from a shell corp they set up. if they cause a nasty mess, get sued for not paying out the mineral rights or damaging adjacent property? They just burn the company, after all on the books it shows that have zero assets and nothing but debt, then they just start a new company and lease the stuff back from the shell corp.

I have no doubt Righthaven did something similar, I bet the only things they had on the books was the website and some office equipment. This is just another way the system is completely broken, the laws have been written by sleazy lawyers that make sure they leave loopholes that only they and their rich friends can really afford to use but which when called upon means they can just walk away at any time without having to pay shit. I bet if you look at their books and compare it to what is owed they'll be lucky if they get a half a cent on the dollar, hell I wouldn't be surprised if the EFF doesn't get a red cent.

This is why you can really "win" in court against these kind of bums because when its all said and done they can just start another company and learn from their mistakes and do it all over again and all you'll have to show for winning is a worthless judgement and a bunch of lawyer fees.

Escaping liability while retaining profits... (2)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about 2 years ago | (#41726383)

Two other scenarios where similar things are done to escape liability and the ability to be sued while making sure to retain the profits as maximally as possible (second-hand FOAF's-parents' business whinings overheard about not being able to sue or losing money in investments):

.

-- Land / real-estate developers form limited-time-extent limited liability corporations to buy the land and other LLCs to develop it and pay each other fees (to maximise profits). As soon as the last house is built, a shell corporation may be formed to hold onto control of the home-owners association / condominium association until the first meeting where the home-owners/condo-owners elect their own board and take over. Then, it's like Keyser Soh-zay (sp?), poof, they vanish like they never existed. And in terms of corporate-person-hood, they no longer do exist to be sued or sue-able. So when the home-owners find out that there was shoddy construction and other problems, there's no one to sue or to recover damages from. Egregious e.g., Trump, claims to make money, licenses his name to skyscraper apartments as in San Diego downtown, burns his losses in bankruptcy, and writes another book about how to become a real estate millionaire. (my tldr opinion for his book: steal other peoples' money is how to become a millionaire in real estate)

.

Hollywood-movie-productions - even though there's a production company, there will be a limited time extent corporation formed for each film made so that consulting fees and production fees and lease fees can be paid to the shell companies owned by the profit-takers, while the idiots who signed on to finance and receive a share of profits also lose out. (Hint, always get gross points, net points are for chumps and chimps)

Also, all of the cameras / lenses / production equipment used on set is all highly-insured and always seem to be "damaged beyond repair" during filming (or most conveniently, at the end of filming.)

And then don't forget about the idiots who signed on for a cut of the "net profits" which Hollywood Accounting [wikipedia.org] shows never exist: no movies in the history of hollywood after a certain year has ever shown a profit. After you put in all the consulting fees and promotion fees, etc, even Forrest Gump and the Star W*rs franchises never officially made any profit at all!

Re:Escaping liability while retaining profits... (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 2 years ago | (#41731627)

Record companies do the same shit, I've known bands that had to break up because they got fucked on contracts and the way the record companies set up all the shells and dummies you can be sued BY them but good fucking luck suing them, its like trying to hit ghosts.

This is why I believe no empire will last more than a few centuries, the laws get so badly tilted to those at the top people just stop following the laws and the entire society falls apart. You look throughout history and time and time again you see it, either slowly like the Roman Empire or on fast forward like the USSR, but in every case people just stop following the rules and the whole system collapses. i truly believe the same will happen to the USA when the financial bubble bursts, you are gonna have so much printed money that its worthless and without being able to break out the checkbook to keep the peasants playing the game you'll find shit breaks down REAL quick. Scary but you look at history and that's just how it goes, as Lenin said "Capitalists will sell you the rope you intend to hang them with" because those at the top get so damned greedy they refuse to see the train heading towards them because it might cut into their profits.

Re:Escaping liability while retaining profits... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41731829)

Egregious e.g., Trump, claims to make money, licenses his name to skyscraper apartments as in San Diego downtown, burns his losses in bankruptcy, and writes another book about how to become a real estate millionaire. (my tldr opinion for his book: steal other peoples' money is how to become a millionaire in real estate)

Not only that, but because of all those shell companies he's a small business owner and needs Romney's help.

Re:Escaping liability while retaining profits... (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 2 years ago | (#41734905)

Gross points are also for chumps. What you need these days is 'first gross points'.

one more asset (5, Funny)

qbast (1265706) | about 2 years ago | (#41721169)

How about seizing and auctioning CEO?

Re:one more asset (1)

macraig (621737) | about 2 years ago | (#41721257)

Who'd want him? Darl McBride? Now there's a gay marriage made in heaven.

Re:one more asset (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41721401)

He's an asshole, not an asset..

Re:one more asset (1)

phorm (591458) | about 2 years ago | (#41726083)

asshat, asset... they sound pretty close

Re:one more asset (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41722575)

If they're lucky, they will find kiddy p0rn on his HD and that will happen.

Re:one more asset (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41723225)

Exactly who would this douche be an 'asset' to?

Cannibals?
Mengele?
Crash Test Dummy?

Patent law reform needs outside funding (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 2 years ago | (#41721185)

Shell company patent trolling isn't illegal, but it should be. Change will obviously not come from governments. I would like to see some independent think tanks receive some funding to develop new proposals.

Maybe the Bill and Melinda Bates Foundation could spare some cash for this, to fix problems in their own backyard, instead of Africa.

Charity begins in the home.

Now when is Darl McBride going to face charges at the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague, for crimes against humanity?

"Remember Righthaven?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41721219)

No, not really.

Re:"Remember Righthaven?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41722273)

No, not really.

Ok then. Briefly:
They tried to make a shell company to go after people for copyright violations, in reality just trying to extort people by threatening lawsuits and then settling out of court. Other companies would hire Righthaven to sue, issue takedowns, etc.
When they tried to go to court, the judge basically told them that they could not sue on behalf of the other company, because they didn't actually have an interest (ownership) of the content.
So they went to their clients, and got them to transfer all their copyrights and patents to them, so they could sue.
Then they went back to court, there was a lot of bad noise, and the end result is that Righthaven got counter-sued over their bullshit extortion tactics, lost, and now not only are all their assets seized, but all their clients just lost all the intellectual property they signed to Righthaven, and the Judge is making sure the CEO can't "jump ship" by forcing him to also be financially tied to the lawsuit.

It's Good News for everybody except the shitbags who were dumb enough to try and get into the patent extortion scheme.

Re:"Remember Righthaven?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41724381)

I know another company that did something similar. But in this case, it was Google selling patents to HTC to sue Apple with. But Google retained patent licensing rights and the ITC judge told them to fuck off.

Are Google and HTC shitbags?

Rights management (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41721319)

...the company lacked standing as the newspapers — not Righthaven — maintained control of the material Righthaven was suing over.

[Creditors] also seized the copyrights it sued over...

Wait, what? Am I missing something here?

Re:Rights management (5, Interesting)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | about 2 years ago | (#41721939)

...the company lacked standing as the newspapers — not Righthaven — maintained control of the material Righthaven was suing over.

[Creditors] also seized the copyrights it sued over...

Wait, what? Am I missing something here?

Sure; There is almost no limit to how badly your lawyers can screw up if they try to be too clever. The company was attempting to do something illegal. Get to act as the copyright holder without having the responsibilities of the copyright holder. Unfortunately, they screwed up completely, and ended up achieving the reverse of what they wanted. They failed to transfer the right to sue, but they managed to transfer the actual copyrights (though presumably still with a license back to the newspapers the articles came from).

Future lawsuits about this material may well be very very "interesting".

Reasons for rejection (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41721405)

"Federal judges in three states rejected Righthaven's lawsuits because the company lacked standing as the newspapers — not Righthaven — maintained control of the material Righthaven was suing over."

Why doesn't this apply to cases brought by the **AA associations over copyright material controlled by others (e.g. recording corps)? Perhaps because the **AA have more money and better connections than Righthaven?

Re:Reasons for rejection (2)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 2 years ago | (#41721463)

Why doesn't this apply to cases brought by the **AA associations over copyright material controlled by others (e.g. recording corps)?

...because the **AA's have the right to represent the recording labels...

...in fact, the **AA's were created by the recording labels to represent them.

Re:Reasons for rejection (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41721877)

Why doesn't this apply to cases brought by the **AA associations over copyright material controlled by others (e.g. recording corps)?

...because the **AA's have the right to represent the recording labels...

You made that up.

Original poster, the correct answer is that the **AA are not the ones suing. The recording companies sue directly. For example SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum, Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas-Rasset etc.

Re:Reasons for rejection (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 2 years ago | (#41721977)

For example SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum, Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas-Rasset, ..

..RIAA vs usenet.com

Re:Reasons for rejection (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41722261)

For example SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum, Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas-Rasset, ..

..RIAA vs usenet.com

For pity's sake. Making stuff up was bad enough, now you're clutching at straws.

Yes, sometimes people refer to Arista Records LLC et al v. Usenet.com as "RIAA v. Usenet.com". No, people using that shorthand way to refer to it does not change reality.

For a list of the plaintiffs in that case see the court ruling here : http://beckermanlegal.com/pdf/?file=/Lawyer_Copyright_Internet_Law/090630DecisionOfMotions.pdf [beckermanlegal.com]

Note that the RIAA is not amongst them. They are all listed individually because they all participated directly. The RIAA did not sue. It did not represent the parties.

You are clearly very ignorant about this subject. That's okay, there's lots of things I'm ignorant about too. But I know when to admit it. Do you?

Re:Reasons for rejection (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 2 years ago | (#41731143)

That was a very good, informative comment until this line: in fact, the **AA's were created by the recording labels to represent them.

That's inaccurate. There was a problem with phonorecords: deep bass would cause the needle to come out of the groove. Various record companies had different ways of attenuating it. The RIAA was originally formed to come up with a standard equalization curve [wikipedia.org] ; bass is attenuated on recording and boosted on playback, and the attenuation and boosting were standardized. It was, in essence, originally a standards body.

It didn't start litigating until the internet. Before the internet, the litigation was alwasy one record company suing another (and they still do).

Re:Reasons for rejection (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 years ago | (#41721713)

OP says that company partnered wih the newspapers in question. I don't know why a hired gun for you would get stuffed by a court.

That's weird (3, Interesting)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41721421)

If a judge wants to take something of mine, he'll send a cop to come and take it. Why isn't that happening here? Do the banks wait for a house to be 'turned over' when they forecloses on it?

Re:If a judge wants to take something (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 2 years ago | (#41722019)

Good that you noticed that too.

Do judges have that much trouble acquiring evidence in other types of cases?

Bonus remark:
"Righthaven is a company, not a law firm." (Which) "partnered with the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Denver Post to file 275 no-warning copyright infringement lawsuits". (Founded by) "Righthaven CEO and Las Vegas attorney Steven Gibson", who then hired "Righthavenâ(TM)s attorney, Shawn Mangano".

Whew! A company that is not a law firm is started by a lawyer, hires a lawyer, and files lawsuits! If that's not Onion Layers of Lawyers all the way down I don't know what is! (With pet Turtles on the desk to look cute.)

Re:That's weird (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41722339)

If a judge wants to take something of mine, he'll send a cop to come and take it. Why isn't that happening here?

It is, their assets were seized by the US Marshals. If you mean the CEO, they DO give you a chance to pay up, and up until now his personal assets have not been part of this whole deal. In fact, he's just being fined, so if he fails to pay the fines then he will get a visit by a uniform.

Do the banks wait for a house to be 'turned over' when they forecloses on it?

Yes, actually they do.

Re:That's weird (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#41722475)

Yes, actually they do.

No, they don't. They send the cops in to forcibly evict the inhabitants, even if the foreclosure was wrongfully (fraudulently) obtained.

Re:That's weird (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41722659)

I am a different AC, but there are two separate actions. One is an action to assume ownership of the house, the second is the action to kick out the current inhabitants. I have spoken with erstwhile homeowners being evicted and wanting to attack the foreclosure- and at that point it really is too late. So the writ that the sheriff is acting on is legal, and the foreclosure that the right to evict is based on is also fine as far as the law knows.

As far as what a judge may want from you... Judges generally don't want much of anything. You could do what Righthaven is doing if you were similarly situated.

Not that you should.

Re:That's weird (1)

Nyder (754090) | about 2 years ago | (#41722479)

If a judge wants to take something of mine, he'll send a cop to come and take it. Why isn't that happening here? Do the banks wait for a house to be 'turned over' when they forecloses on it?

No, the judge will order you to hand it over. If you don't, then the judge will issue an arrest warrent and probably a search warrent and arrest you and then search for the item. If they don't find it, you probably stay in jail for awhile. If they do, then it depends on how much you suck up to the judge on how long he keeps you for obstruction or whatever they call when you don't do what the court/judge ordered you to.

Re:That's weird (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41722909)

If a judge wants to take something of mine, he'll send a cop to come and take it. Why isn't that happening here? Do the banks wait for a house to be 'turned over' when they forecloses on it?

Actually that's not necessarily true.

If The State has a judgement against you then that is true. But... As someone who has been issued a small settlement in a legal dispute I can say that the courts will issue you a judgement, but it's up to YOU to figure out how to collect it. Now YOU, armed with a court order can certainly show up on their doorstep with the local sheriff and start hauling off stuff. Provided that the company isn't in bankruptcy and there are more than one of you to fight over the spoils, that's what bankruptcy court is all about, to determine who gets what. Sure you get your judgement but it's still up to you to collect it, the courts won't collect it for you. And once a company has gone out of business and has no legal address then you are just plain SOL, you have a judgement against an entity that no longer exists. Unless it's worth it to you to hire a private investigator to try and track down where all the money/property has been hidden. And you can't just show up on the CEO's doorstep either. That's the whole point of forming a corporation, to shield the rich people running them from having THEIR personal assets seized for the corporation's bad business decisions.

Besides, what do you think this Steve person has been doing the last six months anyway? He's been hiding any assets that do remain in offshore banks. Those hard drives have long been wiped in order to destroy any evidence of illegal activity.

Hard drives (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41721979)

What hard drives? We ain't got no steenking hard drives!

GRC? (1)

TDyl (862130) | about 2 years ago | (#41722243)

I always thought there was something dodgy about Steve...

Re:GRC? (2)

burning-toast (925667) | about 2 years ago | (#41727057)

Steven A. Gibson CEO in this article:
http://www.dickinson-wright.com/ourpeople/pages/person.aspx?person=96835d9d-f7d2-430e-a836-92977532ec50 [dickinson-wright.com]

Steven M. Gibson GRC CEO / programmer:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Gibson_(computer_programmer) [wikipedia.org]

Posting this here since that was the first Steve Gibson I thought of too...

- Toast

To Paraphrase HL2 (2)

wallsg (58203) | about 2 years ago | (#41722741)

We Don't Go to Righthaven

Karma (1)

MrL0G1C (867445) | about 2 years ago | (#41726355)

Karma's a bitch eh Steve.
waaaaaaa ha ha ha ha he so deserves it. ;-D

Gibson? Oh No! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41732035)

Not that Gibson.... hack the Gibson!

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