April 22, 2011 | By Kurt Opsahl

Righthaven Defies Court, Ignores Domain Name Ruling

Last Friday, the Chief Judge of the federal court in Nevada, which is overseeing more than 200 Righthaven copyright cases, dismissed Righthaven's meritless claim to seize its victim's domain names. In each case so far, Righthaven contended that the mere hosting of any infringing material means that the entire domain name was forfeit to the copyright troll. Chief Judge Hunt rejected that claim, explaining that the "Court finds that Righthaven’s request for such relief fails as a matter of law and is dismissed."

Last night, Righthaven filed a new copyright case in Nevada federal court, and - guess what? - demanded forfeiture of the domain name. Indeed, unable to take "you're wrong as a matter of law" for an answer, Righthaven upped the ante, and asked the Court to:

Order the surrender to Righthaven of all hardware, software, electronic media and domains, including the Domain used to store, disseminate and display the unauthorized versions of any and all copyrighted works as provided for under 17 U.S.C. § 505(b) and/or as authorized by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 64.

Not only has the domain name claim been specifically and completely rejected by that very court, but Righthaven's new citations do nothing to help its claim. As an initial matter, Section 505 does not have a subsection (b), and concerns attorneys' fees, not the surrender of domains and hardware. While Righthaven probably meant to cite to some other section and was simply sloppy in the drafting, no section of the Copyright Act will help them. Indeed, Righthaven has already "concede[d] that such relief is not authorized under the Copyright Act."

Nor is the citation to Rule 64 going to help Righthaven. This is the same argument it raised in Righthaven v. DiBiase, and which the court flatly rejected. Indeed, the argument was silly to begin with, since Rule 64 concerns state law remedies and copyright is a federal law.

The new complaint also asserts that Righthaven holds the "exclusive rights" to Stephens Media news articles, despite the Strategic Alliance Agreement showing that Stephens Media retains these rights. The effect of the SAA on Righthaven's cases will be briefed to the court over the next month.


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