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Criminal Justice Blog Moves to Dismiss Sham Copyright Troll Lawsuit

PRESS RELEASE
May 5, 2011
Unsealed Documents Show Righthaven Not True Owner of News Article's Copyright

Las Vegas - The publisher of a criminal justice blog that provides resources for difficult-to-prosecute murder cases has asked a judge to dismiss the sham infringement lawsuit filed against him by copyright troll Righthaven LLC. Recently unsealed documents show that Righthaven is not the true owner of the copyright of the news article that is the basis for the lawsuit.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the law firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati are representing former prosecutor Thomas DiBiase. In this case, as in many others, Righthaven sued over the use of a Las Vegas Review-Journal article, claiming that the newspaper had transferred the copyright to Righthaven before filing the suit. However, a critical document unearthed by EFF in another Righthaven lawsuit shows that the copyright assignment was a sham, and that Righthaven was merely agreeing to undertake the lawsuit at its own expense in exchange for a cut of the recovery.

"Copyright law demands that only the owner of exclusive rights under the Copyright Act can enforce copyrights -- someone with some skin in the game," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "But the Strategic Alliance Agreement between Righthaven and the Review-Journal shows that the newspaper kept all the rights to exploit its article. Righthaven's role is only to pursue heavy-handed lawsuits while trying to extract settlements for less than the cost of defense."

Righthaven has brought hundreds of copyright cases in Nevada federal court that are riddled with bogus claims and baseless demands. For example, Righthaven contends that the mere hosting of any infringing material means that the entire domain is forfeit to Righthaven. While the judge in this case has already rejected that claim, finding that there was no basis for it under the law, Righthaven continues to assert this claim in newly filed cases.

"Righthaven's copyright trolling undermines free and open discussion on the Internet by punishing people for sharing information about the news of the day, even where that sharing is perfectly legal," said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. "We're asking the judge here to put a stop to this bogus lawsuit and help set a precedent that may finally end Righthaven's litigation campaign."

Las Vegas attorney Chad Bowers also assisted in the filing of the motion Wednesday.

For the motion to dismiss:
https://www.eff.org/files/filenode//mtd5411.pdf

For more on this case:
https://www.eff.org/cases/righthaven-v-dibiase

Contacts:

Kurt Opsahl
Senior Staff Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation
kurt@eff.org

Corynne McSherry
Intellectual Property Director
Electronic Frontier Foundation
corynne@eff.org

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