After a long series of contentious legal battles, it appears the end has finally come for Righthaven.
Righthaven, you may recall, is the Las Vegas company that started suing websites for posting clips of articles from the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Righthaven filed these lawsuits without notifying the website owners, and without giving them any opportunity to remove the offending content. The company hoped the threat of expensive litigation would motivate site owners to settle quickly, and the strategy worked—for a while.
But Righthaven’s controversial tactics quickly made it a lot of enemies. Opponents accused the company, led by Las Vegas attorney Steven Gibson, of being a “copyright troll”—a company that collects copyrights solely for the purpose of suing alleged violators. Then site owners started challenging Righthaven in court—and winning. Some judges ruled that Righthaven didn’t have the right to sue on the copyrights it claimed to own, and one judge ruled Righthaven deliberately tried to hide the identities of some investors who had financial interests in the lawsuits.
Eventually, Righthaven lost three suits in which judges ordered it to pay more than $216,335 to reimburse opponents for costs and attorney fees. When Righthaven didn’t pay promptly, one judge authorized U.S. Marshals to seize $63,720 in assets.
Despite these setbacks, Righthaven tried to go down fighting. Marshals initially found less than $1,000 of assets to seize, and Righthaven filed an emergency appeal to prevent them from taking other property. But the last-ditch effort didn’t work.
In January, the 9th Circuit Court rejected Righthaven’s appeal, which required it to turn over its intellectual property to be sold at auction. Righthaven’s domain name, Righthaven.com, was auctioned off to a Swiss company for $3,300. Then, in case that weren’t enough, the Nevada State Bar announced it was investigating grievances against Gibson and two other attorneys involved in the lawsuits.
The question of whether Gibson and his fellow attorneys will eventually get reprimanded by the bar is mostly beside the point though. Whatever happens, it appears Righthaven’s spree of aggressive lawsuits is finally over for good.