Despite a string of courtroom losses, copyright troll Righthaven continues to pursue its misguided infringement litigation. Tuesday, EFF filed an amicus brief in support of a defendant moving to dismiss Righthaven v. Wolf, the lead case in the federal court in Colorado.
Righthaven sued blogger Leland Wolf and his It Makes Sense blog for a parody of a photo printed in the Denver Post documenting a TSA agent performing a pat-down search. 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.
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. 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.
In Tuesday's amicus brief, EFF asks the judge to dismiss this case, as well as many others that are based on the same improper assignment. 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. 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.