Righthaven v. Democratic Underground

Democratic Underground -- represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Fenwick & West LLP, and attorney Chad Bowers -- was sued by Righthaven LLC on August 10 for a five-sentence excerpt of a Las Vegas Review-Journal news story that a user posted on the forum, with a link back to the Review-Journal website.

Righthaven has brought over 200 lawsuits in Nevada federal court claiming copyright infringement, even though they do not create, produce or distribute any content. Instead, they create lawsuits by scouring the Internet for content from Review-Journal stories posted on blogs and online forums, purporting to acquire the copyright to that particular story from Stephens Media LLC (the Review-Journal's publisher), and then suing the poster for infringement.

As part of its lawsuit business model, Righthaven claims damages of up to $150,000 under the Copyright Act's statutory damages provisions, seeks the target's domain name and uses these threats to attempt to push defendants into a quick settlement. In its answer and counterclaim, Democratic Underground asked the court to affirm that the excerpt of the article does not infringe copyright and is a fair use of the material, with no damages due to Righthaven.

On June 14, 2011, the Nevada federal court dismissed Righthaven's copyright claim, finding that the company did not own the copyright. The case for a declaration of non-infringement proceeded against Stephens Media, and resulted in a judgment of non-infringement.

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