Righthaven 'Masquerading As A Company,' Fined For Behavior

Copyright troll firm Righthaven is bidding fair to replace TV reruns as a source of summer entertainment. Since the company's case against Digital Underground was tossed in mid-June, the firm's lawyers have turned to increasingly amusing court filings in an attempt to justify their own legal fees. This week scarcely disappoints.

Judge Roger Hunt blasted Righthaven earlier this week for failing to explain its previous deceit and unacceptable conduct in the Digital Underground case and fined the firm $5000 for its attempt to mislead the federal court. The judge noted that Righthaven has been acting as a law firm, adding: "In the court’s view, the arrangement between Righthaven and Stephens Media is nothing more, nor less, than a law firm — which incidentally I don’t think is licensed to practice law in this state — with a contingent fee agreement masquerading as a company."

The new judgment could lend fuel to the fire of defendants across the country, many of whom are watching the extended beating Righthaven is taking with equal measures of glee and relief. The company has continued filing lawsuits despite growing questions surrounding its fundamental existance and has 275 lawsuits in progress as of this writing.

After a few stories, running more copyright troll photos seemed redundant. So here's a funny.

The company has finally stopped trying to persuade judges that amended agreements it created after filing a lawsuit should be treated as existing before the lawsuit was filed, but with a nifty twist. After the company's lawsuit against Dean Mostofi was dismissed earlier this week, on the grounds that Righthaven had no right to sue based on its then-current agreement with Stephens Media, the company immediately refiled suit against Mostofi on the grounds that he'd breached the amended agreement since reached by the two companies.

Righthaven's initial goal was to fight back against what <strike>Stephen's Media</strike> it saw as content theft, but its cases have devolved into copyright theater. The company isn't actually striking any blows for the rights of traditional media or the authors who work in those mediums. Instead, it's tying up the court system with lawsuits, motions, and claims that are increasingly frivolous.

If Righthaven truly wanted to litigate the merits of its claims, it would draw up an agreement with Stephens Media that clearly and unambiguously transferred copyrights in the traditional manner. At that point, it would be free to raise the issue of what does and doesn't constitute fair use in a court of law. The fact that the company avoids this option in favor of fortune-sharing revenue arrangements and buy-back deals makes it difficult to believe there's any good faith behind the company's actions.