December 21, 2010 | By Rebecca Reagan

Help EFF Defend Against Righthaven Trolls

The copyright troll Righthaven has brought over 190 cases—and counting—against bloggers, online journalists and others since March of this year. While EFF has taken on two of these cases directly (Democratic Underground and DiBiase) we have also been attempting to help those sued to secure counsel. If the tactics of these trolls trouble you and you are a member of the bar with experience in copyright litigation, these defendants need your help.

What’s Righthaven? Righthaven is a Nevada company operated by Las Vegas attorney Steven Gibson, whose “sole purpose” is “suing blogs and websites.”[1]. It searches the Internet for bloggers and websites that contain posts with content from certain newspapers. When it finds one, it purportedly buys the copyright from the newspaper publisher, applies for a copyright registration, and then files a lawsuit against the blogger or website. Its current partners include the Las Vegas Review-Journal (owned by Stephens Media LLC, who helped form the company) and the Denver Post.

Just as in many other copyright troll shakedowns, Righthaven relies on the threat of enormous copyright statutory damages (up to $150,000) to scare defendants, often individual bloggers operating non-commercial websites, into a quick settlements. They also threaten to seize the domain names, a threat without basis in law. Even if a blogger has meritorious defenses, the costs of defending can often be overwhelming - unless the blogger has pro bono counsel to help even the odds.

The pace at which EFF is hearing from Righthaven defendants is increasing, and we and our cooperating attorneys are presently working at capacity. We need more attorneys versed in copyright issues to whom we can refer people who need pro bono help defending themselves from Righthaven. EFF has already briefed several of these issues in the cases we're handling and those resources are available to counsel. Almost all of the cases are filed in the District of Nevada and we do have good links to possible local counsel.

If you are an attorney interested in representing Righthaven defendants, please contact Rebecca Reagan at rsreagan@eff.org.


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