Just Deserts For Righthaven

Copyright troll Righthaven, LLC is now facing its just deserts. Yesterday, a Writ of Execution was issued against it and U.S. Marshals are authorized to use “reasonable force” to collect a judgement against it. The judgement was a result of an award of attorney fees to a defendant by Judge Philip Pro of the U.S. District Court for Nevada after he dismissed a suit brought by Righthaven against Wayne Hoehn.

Righthaven attempted to delay the proceedings by appealing to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals but they missed the deadline for filing its opening brief in the case. They blamed missing the deadline on a “misunderstanding” but the court refused to grant them an extension.

According to the website Ars Technica:

The appeals court has refused to act on Righthaven’s request to delay its August judgment further, and the money was due last Friday. When it didn’t show up, Randazza Legal Group went back to the Nevada District Court to request a Writ of Execution to use the court’s enforcers, the US Marshals, to collect the money. The court clerk issued the writ today, and Righthaven’s $34,045.50 judgment has now ballooned to $63,720.80 with all the additional costs and fees from the delay.

I spoke to Marc Randazza this evening, who tells me, “We’re going to enlist the US Marshal in marking sure this court’s order has some meaning.” He looks forward to heading over to Righthaven’s offices as soon as possible. Should Righthaven not have the cash in its bank accounts, the writ allows Randazza to “identify to the US Marshal or his representative assets that are to be seized to satisfy the judgment/order.”

Frankly, I hope that more of those sued by Righthaven go back to court to obtain judgements against them. Moreover, I hope that smart lawyers find a way to pierce the corporate veil and go after Steve Gibson and his personal assets. As Righthaven is his brainchild, that indeed would be just deserts.

It Is Only Fitting

Copyright trolls Righthaven LLC and its owner Steve Gibson are in the crosshairs of Wayne Hoehn’s attorneys. Seems that Righthaven has an unpaid judgment against them and Hoehn’s attorneys are asking the U.S. Marshalls Service to seize their bank accounts for non-payment.

Attorneys representing Wayne Hoehn filed a motion Sunday asking the court to issue a writ of execution for Hoehn’s judgment against Righthaven after the group defied the court ordered payment due date last week. The motion states, “No stay prohibiting Hoehn’s execution of his judgment is in place, nor would any such future stay have retroactive effect.” It also states that the “Court is entitled to authorize the U.S. Marshalls to execute Hoehn’s judgment” through seizure of bank accounts.

That would be sweet justice because Righthaven’s campaign against bloggers was always about money and never about seeking justice.

H/T Sebastian

Nobody Ever Said Righthaven Was Smart (Updated)

A lot of things can be said about attorney Steve Gibson and his copyright troll firm Righthaven LLC.  Crafty, slick, tricky, or sly might apply but smart really isn’t one of them.

Reporter Eriq Gardner is being sued by Righthaven for his article in Ars Technica about a Righthaven lawsuit. That lawsuit was one that Righthaven brought against the Drudge Report for using a picture involving a TSA patdown that appeared in the Denver Post. Gardner used a grainy, black and white photo and the headline in question to show his readers what the Drudge Report was being sued over. His caption on the photo shown in his article read:  “The photo in question as it appeared on Drudge Report”.

Gardner is a contributing editor of The Hollywood Reporter and the Ars Technica article is reported to be the only one he has ever written for that publication.

It isn’t entirely clear why Righthaven chose to sue Gardner individually. But arstechnica.com is one of many websites owned by Conde Nast’s parent company, Advance Magazine Publishers, for which it has registered a DMCA takedown agent with the U.S. Copyright Office. That probably would have limited Righthaven to merely sending a takedown request to Ars—something it never does.

The story in Paid Content by Joe Mullins speculates that Gardner got the photo from court documents which are in the public domain.

Steve Gibson was asked if this lawsuit was due to the negative story about Righthaven.

Gibson wouldn’t answer that. Noting that the photo in question appeared to be pulled from court records, I asked: “Do you believe reporters have a right to use court documents to report on Righthaven?” Gibson didn’t really answer that one either, saying: “That’s going to be based on facts and circumstances.” He said he disagreed with the premise of my question, and went on to say: “The line of your questioning is so intimate with the issues that are going to be litigated before the court, I don’t feel comfortable having any further discussion on this subject matter with you.”

There is an old saying that you don’t pick fights with people who buy ink by the gallon. Somewhere along the way Steve Gibson and Righthaven LLC never learned that piece of wisdom. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. My guess is that Righthaven is going to be very sorry that they filed this lawsuit.

UPDATE: Well that didn’t take long. Today, attorneys for Righthaven marched into U.S. District Court in Las Vegas and said, oops, sorry, we didn’t mean to sue you, and we’d like to ask for a Voluntary Dismissal With Prejudice.

The Ars Technica website discusses the story which they are calling “Righthaven’s epic blunder”.

Not content with just suing sources, small out-of-state nonprofits, bloggers who get 20 hits per day, and other massive copyright pirates, newspaper litigation firm Righthaven this week trained its guns on Ars Technica. The company filed a federal lawsuit against one of our freelance writers over a post (about Righthaven) that appeared on the site back in December—only to dismiss it this morning.

Why was the case ever brought? It was (cough) a “clerical mistake.”

Steve Green of the Las Vegas Sun – the journalist who has followed the copyright trolls of Righthaven since day one – has an article about this case as well. He quotes journalist Eriq Gardner on the case:

“I’d buy a ‘I survived Righthaven’ T-shirt, but won’t for trademark reasons,” Gardner quipped in a Twitter tweet after the dismissal.

Green also quotes one Las Vegas attorney familiar with the cases as saying Righthaven “must have been insane” to have even brought this case as it was clearly “fair use”.

Righthaven LLC – Porn Purveyor?

Much has been written about copyright trolls Righthaven LLC and their campaign of no-notice campaign lawsuits over the past year. Just when I thought nothing they did could surprise me, I found I was mistaken.

Steve Green of the Las Vegas Sun has been providing some of the best coverage on Steve Gibson, Righthaven LLC, and their legal antics since the beginning. His Sunday, February 27th article on the counter-attack by a South Carolina defendent, Dana Eiser, had this buried in it.

Righthaven is the copyright enforcement partner of the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Denver Post. Since March 2010, it has filed at least 239 lawsuits against website operators and message-board posters in the United States, Canada and Europe charging material from those newspapers was posted online without authorization. Righthaven has also obtained copyrights to two porn movies, but as of late last week hadn’t sued anyone over those films.

Obtaining copyrights to porn movies? Given that attorney Steve Gibson and his firm Righthaven LLC have been engaging in a form of legal pornography, I guess it is only fitting. There is no word on which movies they hold the copyright or in which porn genre.

This leads me to wonder if we will be seeing lawsuits against couples for a copyright violation because they emulated some sexual position that saw in a porn flick for which he holds the copyright.

The Newest Righthaven Clients

Clayton Cramer reports that MediaNews Group is the newest client for the copyright trolls at Righthaven LLC. I guess if the holding company that owns you is in bankruptcy you’ll do darn near anything to make money. However, I wonder how their on-line ad revenues will be after this.

According to the Las Vegas Sun, Righthaven filed its first suit outside of Nevada. They filed in Charleston, SC for an alleged copyright violation from the Denver Post. This brings to 180 the number of lawsuits that Righthaven has filed claiming copyright infringement.

I had thought that like good little trolls, Righthaven might have stayed under the bridge with the shakeup at the Las Vegas Review-Journal but no such luck. The only think I am sad about in the list of papers below is that I’ll have to miss Don Surber’s column in the Charleston, WV Daily Mail. I have listed all the MediaNews Group papers below with their links in case you want to add them to your blocked list.

According to the Las Vegas Sun story:

In California, Media News is part of a partnership called the Bay Area News Group that includes Stephens Media. An affiliate of Stephens Media has invested in Righthaven and, until now, all of Righthaven’s lawsuits involved the Stephens Media-owned Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The MediaNews Group papers by state and city.

Alameda Times-Star    California – Alameda

Enterprise-Record    California – Chico

Times-Standard   California – Eureka

Argus   California – Fremont

The Daily Review   California – Hayward

Lake County Record-Bee  California – Lakeport

Press-Telegram   California –  Long Beach

The Monterey County Herald   California – Monterey

Marin Independent Journal  California – Novato

Oakland Tribune   California  – Oakland

Inland Valley Daily Bulletin   California  – Ontario

Oroville Mercury-Register   California  – Oroville

Pasadena Star-News   California – Pasadena

Tri-Valley Herald   California – Pleasanton

Red Bluff Daily News   California – Red Bluff

Redlands Daily Facts   California – Redlands

The Sun  California – San Bernardino

San Jose Mercury NewsCaliforniaSan Jose

San Mateo County TimesCaliforniaSan Mateo

Santa Cruz Sentinel  California – Santa Cruz

Daily Breeze   California – Torrance

The Ukiah Daily Journal   California – Ukiah

The Reporter   California – Vacaville

Times-Herald   California – Vallejo

Contra Costa Times   California – Walnut Creek

San Gabriel Valley Tribune   California – West Covina

Whittier Daily News   California – Whittier

Daily Democrat   California – Woodland

Daily News   California – Woodland Hills

Daily Camera   Colorado – Boulder

The Denver Post   Colorado – Denver

Fort Morgan Times   Colorado – Fort Morgan

Journal-Advocate   Colorado – Sterling

Sentinel & Enterprise   Massachusetts – Fitchburg

The Sun   Massachusetts – Lowell

North Adams Transcript   Massachusetts – North Adams

The Berkshire Eagle   Massachusetts – Pittsfield

The Detroit News   Michigan – Detroit

St. Paul Pioneer Press   Minnesota – St. Paul

Alamogordo Daily News   New Mexico – Alamogordo

Carlsbad Current-Argus   New Mexico – Carlsbad

The Deming Headlight   New Mexico – Deming

The Daily Times   New Mexico – Farmington

Las Cruces Sun-News   New Mexico – Las Cruces

Public Opinion   Pennsylvania – Chambersburg

The Evening Sun   Pennsylvania – Hanover

Lebanon Daily News   Pennsylvania – Lebanon

The York Dispatch   Pennsylvania – York

York Daily Record – York Sunday News   Pennsylvania – York

El Paso Times   Texas – El Paso

The Salt Lake Tribune   Utah – Salt Lake City

Bennington Banner   Vermont – Bennington

Brattleboro Reformer   Vermont – Brattleboro

Charleston Daily Mail   West Virginia – Charleston

H/T Sebastian and Clayton Cramer

Righthaven: Equal Opportunity Copyright Troll

Steve Gibson’s Righthaven LLC is proving itself to be an equal opportunity copyright troll. Earlier it had sued the Democratic Pary of Nevada and progressive website Democratic Underground. On Friday, it filed suit against Sharron Angle, Harry Reid’s Republican opponent in Nevada.

According to the complaint filed Friday, Angle is being sued for reprinting two Las Vegas Review-Journal articles on her campaign website. The first was a July 21st article entitled “Its the Jobs, Stupid” and the second was a August 3rd article entitled “Angle: Reid’s Clout Misguided. Challenger Describes What Junior Senators Can Do.” As of this morning, abridged versions both articles are still up on Angle’s website with a link to the LVRJ for the rest of the article. They can be seen here and here.

The delicious irony in this lawsuit is that Sherman Frederick, publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is known to be a big backer of Sharron Angle. Though denied by Steve Gibson, it has been speculated that Righthaven LLC was goaded into filing this lawsuit by liberal blogger Steve Friess. In his blog, VegasHappensHere.com, he published a post on August 23rd asking “Will the R-J Sue Sharron Angle”. The post detailed instances including those cited above where the Angle campaign website had copied full articles from the Review-Journal. Friess gives his reaction to the lawsuits in posts here and here. It remains to be seen how quickly this case will either come to court or be settled. One commenter on Friess’ blog speculated that it would be quickly settled for a nominal sum at “undisclosed terms.”

In other Righthaven news, Adam Hochberg, longtime NPR contributor, had an excellent article in The Poynter Institute’s PoynterOnline journal. He makes note of the claims of Stephens Media and Righthaven that they are only trying to stop copyright infringement as well as the overwhelming negative response it has gotten from many in the legal community and in the blogosphere. He posits that Stephens and Righthaven may get legal victories but lose the PR war. Other newspaper executives note:

take-down notices can easily resolve most copyright conflicts without litigation. “Generally we don’t even do it through lawyers,” said Seattle Times Executive Editor David Boardman, who is an officer of the American Society of News Editors. “Normally all it takes is a call or note or e-mail or letter to somebody just saying, ‘Hey, you’re in violation of our copyright. Please take it down.’ More often than not, they do.”

 However, as Steve Gibson has made clear, enforcing copyrights by surprise lawsuits is the vehicle he plans to ride to untold riches.

Righthaven LLC’s New Client

Steve Gibson’s Righthaven LLC has added another newspaper chain to his list of clients according to a report in Wired. WEHCO Media, Inc. of Little Rock, Arkansas owns 15 daily newspapers, 13 weekly newspapers, and 13 cable companies. The majority of their holdings are in Arkansas.

It is not surprising that WEHCO has jumped on the Righthaven copyright troll litigation bandwagon. In November 2009, their subsidiary, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc. formed an equal partnership with Stephens Media LLC and combined their operations in northwest Arkansas. The jointly owned company is called Northwest Arkansas Newspapers, LLC.

Knowing the relationship between WEHCO and Stephens Media now explains why they published  a pro-Righthaven story in NWAOnline. I referred to the NWAOnline in the Stalinist term of “useful idiots”. Since I didn’t know of the relationship at the time, I am now changing my description of them to “fellow travelers”.

So who or what is WEHCO Media? WEHCO stands for Walter E. Hussman Company. Hussman was the son-in-law of Clyde Palmer who started what would become WEHCO in the early 1900s in Texarkana, AR when he bought the Texarkana Courier. Over the next few decades Palmer expanded his chain to include newspapers in Hot Springs, El Dorado, Camden, Magnolia, and Hope.

Hussman entered his father-in-law’s business a few year after marrying Betty Palmer. He succeeded Palmer as president of the newspaper chain in 1957 upon Palmer’s death. During the 1960s, he started to expand the company into the cable TV business which accounts for the 13 cable companies now owned by WEHCO. In 1973, Palmer Newspapers became WEHCO Media. The company is now run by Walter, Jr. who had managed the Arkansas Democrat of Little Rock which in time became the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

I think it can be safely said that between WEHCO Media and Stephens Media that they control the newspaper business in the state of Arkansas. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has the largest circulation of any paper in Arkansas and is the 43rd largest paper nationwide. So what newspapers and magazines does WEHCO own so that bloggers can avoid them just like we are avoiding the Stephens Media holdings. The following is a list by state:


Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Inc.
Banner-News Publishing Company
Benton County Daily Record *
Camden News
El Dorado News Times
Fayetteville Free Weekly*
Gentry Courier-Journal/Decatur Herald*
Gravette News Herald*
La Prensa Libre*
Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette *
Northwest Arkansas Times *
Rogers Morning News *
Sentinel Record
Smackover Journal
Springdale Morning News *
The Siloam Springs Herald Leader*
The Times of Northeast Benton County*
The Weekly Vista*
Washington County Enterprise-Leader*
White River Valley News*

California Democrat
Fulton Sun
Jefferson City News Tribune
McDonald County Press *
The Lake Today


Chattanooga Times Free Press
Noticias Libres Sureste de Tennessee


Texarkana Gazette

* Part of “Northwest Arkansas Newspapers LLC”

UPDATE: The Atlantic named Walter Hussman, Jr. as one of their 27 “Brave Thinkers” because he began charging for online access to his newspapers back in 2002. I wonder if getting in bed with copyright trolls would also qualify as “brave thinking.”

A RightHaven LLC Round-up


The biggest news is that the EFF – the Electronic Frontier Foundation – is stepping up and helping bloggers who have been sued by RightHaven LLC. In an announcement posted yesterday by Eva Galperin, they encourage those who have been a target of RightHaven’s lawsuits to contact them. They say they can help a small number of bloggers by providing legal counsel. The EFF notes it has limited resources with which to provide direct legal counsel but is committed to providing referrals to those that they can’t represent directly.

To contact the EFF for help, send an email to eva@eff.org.

Planted Stories?

Under the heading of what seems to be a planted story by the good folks at Stephens Media LLC, we have a story in NWAOnline – the NWA stands for Northwest Arkansas – that is is entitled “Firm holds websites to the law.” What I see of the story reads like a press release from RightHaven.

Back in “Uncle Joe” Stalin’s day, the Soviets referred to those in the Western press who believed their lies and would pass them on as “truth” to their readers as useful idiots. Seems appropriate here as well.

Google Cache

Techdirt has an interesting article on the legal theories used by defense lawyers in the RightHaven suits. One theory that is being tried out focuses on an earlier ruling which found Google cache legal. Here is how the theory goes:

So, with Righthaven, these lawyers are claiming the same basic thing. They’re saying that the LVRJ gave an implicit license for a similar cache-with-link by putting the content up for free and by failing to limit the ability to copy & paste the text via technical means. On top of that, they point out that the LVRJ explicitly encourages people to “share” the articles on its site (something the LVRJ still does — including quick links to share it with 19 different services).

While certainly not the same as the Google case, it will be interesting to see where this argument for fair use goes.


In another Techdirt story on the defenses being used against RightHaven, the lawyers for Ryan Burrage of Louisiana accuse the Las Vegas Review-Journal of entrapment. This argument contends by providing “email this” and RSS links constantly throughout articles as well as encouraging people to “share and save” up to 23 times per article , the LVRJ is encouraging the behavior for which they then turn around and have RightHaven sue.

Steve Green of the Las Vegas Sun

Reporter Steve Green of the Las Vegas Sun has been doing yeoman work following the RightHaven story. Much of what we know about the lawsuits has come from his stories. Indeed, the Techdirt stories above are from stories of his in the Las Vegas Sun.

His recent articles include:

R-J accused of entrapment over copyright enforcement

Blogger asks to pay $200 to close R-J copyright suit

Website operators use new defenses to fight R-J copyright suits



Clayton Cramer’s Blog: How To Make Sure You Don’t Accidentally Visit Organizations That Don’t Want You

Clayton Cramer’s Blog: How To Make (Sure) You Don’t Accidentally Visit Organizations That Don’t Want You

In other words, how to starve copyright troll RightHaven LLC out of business by refusing to have anything to do with Stephens Media websites.

I installed the Add-On in Firefox and it works just dandy. If you use Chrome, check the comments in Clayton’s post for instructions for it.

RightHaven Founder Lives in an Another Universe

Steve Gibson, founder of RightHaven LLC, must live in an another universe.

He was interviewed by Joe Mullin for the Corporate Counsel section of Law.com in an article that appeared yesterday. He seemed a bit bewildered by all the attention that his lawsuits have gathered. He goes on to say:

“It’s unbelievable,” says Gibson. “There appears to be a groundswell of interest in our business model.”

He says that like he thinks every intellectual property lawyer in the world now wants to form another RightHaven LLC to sue as many bloggers as they can find in order to become rich and famous. Earth to Steve – you aren’t considered a model but rather a pariah by most in the legal and journalism communities.

Mark Hinueber, general counsel of Stephens Media, joins Gibson in this alternate reality fantasy when he notes:

“My hope,” says Hinueber, “is we will raise awareness of copyright laws, and have more links back to our site, and have less of our material infringed on the Internet.”

While Hinueber may be correct that that they have raised awareness of copyright law, he is a fool to think that bloggers will link to the  Las Vegas Review-Journal. If anything, it and the rest of the Stephens Media chain are being actively boycotted by bloggers. Less of the LVRJ’s material will be “infringed” because no one is going to touch it.

To paraphrase the Las Vegas Tourism motto – What happens in Vegas, needs to stay in Vegas.

UPDATE: TechDirt has a post with much the same response I had to the Law.com article.