Another Loss For Righthaven: Court Explains That Its Demand For Domain Names Is Silly

from the bad-day-for-righthaven dept

Righthaven hasn't been having too much luck lately. We've already covered how its having a bad day for a few different reasons, and here's another one. As you may know, in nearly every lawsuit Righthaven files, it also demands that the defendant hand over his or her website, in addition to the $75,000 to $150,000 it usually asks for. This has left a bunch of folks scratching their heads, as there's simply no precedent for saying that if you infringe on someone's copyright, they get your domain. And, now, we have a court making that point clear. Eric Goldman points us to a ruling in Las Vegas by judge Roger Hunt (the same judge who unsealed the filing that may kill off most of Righthaven's lawsuits...), in which he points out that asking for the domain name has no basis in law:
Righthaven's complaint requests the Court to direct Heritage Web Design, LLC, the current registrar of DiBiase's website domain name (www.nobodycases.com), to lock that domain and transfer control of it to Righthaven. However, "[t]he remedies for infringement 'are only those prescribed by Congress,'" Sony Corp. Of Am. v. Universal City Studios, Inc., 464 U.S. 417, 431 (1984) (quoting Thompson v. Hubbard, 131 U.S. 123, 151 (1889)), and Congress has never expressly granted plaintiffs in copyright infringement cases the right to seize control over the defendant's website domain. Therefore, the Court finds that Righthaven's request for such relief fails as a matter of law and is dismissed.
One by one, the various pieces of Righthaven's legal campaign are falling apart.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    TheStupidOne, Apr 18th, 2011 @ 3:03pm

    3 Questions

    How much has this legal campaign cost?
    How much have they brought in via 'settlements'?
    Will they be forced to give back their ill gotten gains?

    If the answers to these questions are in Righthaven's favor then it was an epic win for them even if they can't use it anymore. It's the way most scams work, abuse the system until you get caught, keep your winnings and move on.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2011 @ 3:10pm

    Can what Righthaven is doing be considered gambling. If so, does that make it illegal? I guess it depends on whether or not the game of frivolous lawsuits is a game of chance or skill. Maybe the courts can weigh in on this one.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Donnicton, Apr 18th, 2011 @ 3:14pm

    Re: 3 Questions

    That really depends on whether or not you are sanctioned as a vexatious litigator. While actually somewhat rare due to the seriousness of such an accusation, it's something that could be applied to Righthaven.

    It would essentially mean that they would be blacklisted, as any attorney dealing with them after that point in any further legal actions against someone could very highly result in a speedy disbarment.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    Chosen Reject (profile), Apr 18th, 2011 @ 3:18pm

    Congress has never expressly granted plaintiffs in copyright infringement cases the right to seize control over the defendant's website domain.


    Wouldn't that apply to ICE's domain name seizures as well (at least for the allegedly copyright infringing seizures) or was that why ICE decided to label it as criminal infringement?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Donnicton, Apr 18th, 2011 @ 3:21pm

    Re:

    I'm gonna guess that you just answered your own question.

    I would not be surprised if they sold off the domains they seized like a pack of cyber-squatters.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    The Devil's Coachman (profile), Apr 18th, 2011 @ 3:27pm

    Re: Re:

    Why........that would be corruption or something, wouldn't it? Oh, we're talking about a government agency here. Never mind.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    That Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2011 @ 4:45pm

    Re: Re:

    Actually I think trying to grab the domain was just another scare tactic to get people to pay them.

    If you had spent years building a following and thought for a moment someone could just take all of that away by getting your domain, you look towards how to make it go away quickly and keep what you have.

    The problem in these cases is there is not much help available unless you have a large warchest to draw upon to get a team to rip it apart. Considering many of their targets were small blogs, they just wanted to be able to show "wins" to help convince others to cave to their demands.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2011 @ 5:30pm

    If the request to hand over the domain was made within the cliam filed in Court, then the Court has every right to dimsiss such a request on the basis that no such remedy is available to Righthaven under law.

    HOWEVER...if Righthaven demand the domain in by letter or some other demand on the Defendant, that is an issue between the parties. Parties can negotiate and request anything they like, unless it is not criminally unlawful.

    Negotitations and settlements can take place on whatever terms the parties agree, and the Defendant can choose whether or not to accept the 'offer' (term used loosely).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    Hooter McBus (profile), Apr 18th, 2011 @ 5:31pm

    If the request to hand over the domain was made within the cliam filed in Court, then the Court has every right to dimsiss such a request on the basis that no such remedy is available to Righthaven under law.

    HOWEVER...if Righthaven demand the domain in by letter or some other demand on the Defendant, that is an issue between the parties. Parties can negotiate and request anything they like, unless it is not criminally unlawful.

    Negotitations and settlements can take place on whatever terms the parties agree, and the Defendant can choose whether or not to accept the 'offer' (term used loosely).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Hooter McBus (profile), Apr 18th, 2011 @ 5:32pm

    Oops sorry double post...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Pixelation, Apr 18th, 2011 @ 6:17pm

    dismissed

    My new favorite thing to read...

    Righthaven, dismissed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    Richard (profile), Apr 18th, 2011 @ 7:33pm

    Re:

    Maybe Righthaven will actually end up fighting for good in this case, and get the ICE domain seizures rejected?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Michael, Apr 19th, 2011 @ 4:22am

    Re: dismissed

    Righthaven, suspicious fire, firefighters having trouble making important decision...


    ...go to Chili's or Longhorn Steakhouse.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Zangetsu (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 5:53am

    So, what if ...

    ... the domain owners that had their domain names seized over "pirating" (aka copyright infringement) by ICE sued over the fact that Congress never authorized this as a remedy for infringement?

    I kind of wish the EFF had enough resources to take this on.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    DannyB (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 6:59am

    Re: 3 Questions

    > How much has this legal campaign cost?

    Not nearly enough.

    They're still here.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    FUDbuster (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 7:05am

    Re:

    Congress has never expressly granted plaintiffs in copyright infringement cases the right to seize control over the defendant's website domain. Therefore, the Court finds that Righthaven's request for such relief fails as a matter of law and is dismissed.

    My understanding is that while the remedy is not expressly granted in the Copyright Act, it could be an equitable remedy under Section 502. I don't think it's accurate to say that the remedy is per se not available.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    FUDbuster (profile), Apr 19th, 2011 @ 7:05am

    Re: Re:

    Oops. That wasn't supposed to be a reply to the above AC.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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