The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which has been aiding various defendants in copyright lawsuits brought by Righthaven (commonly referred to as a “copyright troll”), and has filed an amicus brief in support of a defendant moving to dismiss the RIghthaven v. Wolf case – the lead federal court case in Colorado, according to the organization.
The case involves a blogger named Leland Wolf, who operates a blog called It Makes Sense, and his use of a Denver Post photo in a parody. The photo showed a TSA agent performing a pat-down.
“In a pattern used in dozens of other cases, Righthaven created the lawsuit by first scouring the Internet for blogs and discussion forums that posted the photo, and then sued for infringement, claiming it had acquired the copyright of the photo before it started legal action,” says the EFF’s Rebecca Jeschke.
“As those following the Righthaven developments know, a critical document unearthed by EFF shows that the copyright assignments done in Righthaven lawsuits based on Las Vegas Journal Review content are a sham — a discovery that has led to the dismissal of six Righthaven suits in Nevada,” she continues. “In this case, Wolf’s lawyers found a similar agreement with Denver Post owner MediaNews Group. As EFF’s brief explains, the agreement makes any assignment of MNG copyrights to Righthaven — including its rights in the TSA photo, which Righthaven claimed were assigned to it — effectively meaningless. Copyright law does not permit non-owners to bring infringement actions; since Righthaven never became an owner, it had no business filing suit against Wolf or anyone else.”
Last month, Righthaven lost a case in Nevada against another blogger named Dean Mostofi, who used the full text of an article from the Las Vegas Review Journal, after the Judge determined that “the existence of federal jurisdiction ordinarily depends on the facts as they exist when the complaint was filed.”
In this case, Righthaven was trying to sue despite not having owned the rights at the time. They quickly turned around and filed the suit again, how having that ownership.
The EFF asked the judge to dismiss not only this particular case in its amicus brief, but many other related cases.
“Righthaven has filed 57 lawsuits based on the sham copyright assignment of the TSA photo, and the majority of those cases are still open in Colorado federal court,” says Jeschke. “The Colorado court stayed all the cases except Wolf. However, before the stay, over a third of the cases were settled, allowing Righthaven to extract revenue based on a copyright that it did not own. It’s well past time for Righthaven’s baseless litigation campaign to come to a decisive end.”
So far, Righthaven has shown no signs of letting up on its pursuance of mass litigation.