Whatever Copyrights Righthaven Might Actually Have Owned Now Transferred To Receiver For Auction

from the and-now-what? dept

This could get interesting. The latest news in the ongoing Righthaven saga is that the judge in the Hoehn case -- who had ordered Righthaven to pay attorneys fees which it never paid -- has now ordered that all of Righthaven's "intellectual property," including the many copyrights in dispute, be turned over to the receiver for auction. As you may recall, Righthaven's domain has already been auctioned off, but now it appears the copyrights will be too.

Of course, this is a bit tricky, since it's unclear what, if anything, Righthaven actually "owns" here. Even the company (when it bothered to show up in court, which was increasingly rare) started to claim that it really only held the bare right to sue -- which is what sunk its cases, since that right cannot be separated from the other, enumerated rights under copyright law. But, as the court noted, even if there's a dispute over what rights Righthaven technically has under the agreements it made with Stephens Media's Las Vegas Review Journal, the company is registered as the copyright holder on hundreds of works. And those are all being auctioned off:
In connection with the Defendant’s judgment enforcement efforts, the Court appointed the Receiver to, among other things, seize the copyrights assigned to Righthaven by various entities (the “Copyrights”), as well as its trademarks and other intangible property, so that they could be sold at auction. (Doc. # 62, 66.) Despite the Receiver’s efforts, Righthaven has not transferred its intellectual property. (Docs. # 70, 81, 82.) The only property that the Receiver has been able to obtain and auction is Righthaven’s former domain name, <righthaven.com>, which was sold for more than $3,000 in a commercially reasonable auction (Docs. # 81, 82).

Based on the evidence submitted to the court by the Receiver (Docs. # 70, 82), Righthaven has failed to substantively participate in the orderly disposition and sale of its intangible assets as ordered on December 12, 2011. (Doc. # 66.) Moreover, Righthaven failed to appear at the originally scheduled January 5, 2012 debtor examination in this case, (Doc. # 71), and failed to appear at the March 5, 2012 hearing giving rise to this Order. (Doc. # 88.)

In light of Righthaven’s lack of participation in these proceedings, and Hoehn’s entitlement to relief (Docs. # 62, 66), this Court concludes it is appropriate to transfer such rights as Righthaven may still hold in Righthaven’s intellectual property to the Receiver, Lara Pearson. The Court deems Righthaven’s conduct in this case to constitute its consent to this Order.

This Court acknowledges that there is a dispute over what intellectual property rights Righthaven actually possesses. Nonetheless, the Court may use its powers under 17 U.S.C. § 201(d)(1) to transfer Righthaven’s copyright rights, whatever they are deemed to be, to the Receiver for auction pursuant to the Court’s December 12, 2011 order (Doc. # 66). While Righthaven has argued now that it does not have more than the bare right to sue, as this Court previously held, Righthaven does possess copyright registrations that can be assigned by operation of law. The copyright registrations to more than 275 works are in Righthaven’s name, can be transferred by this Court, and can then be auctioned by the Receiver.
The order then goes on to list out the 275 copyrights that are registered in Righthaven's name. Even if the transfers were a sham, the registrations still exist. What can actually be done with them is an open question, because the sham transfer likely means that the rights are still really Stephens Media's, and if there ever were a legal dispute that would be an issue. But, in the meantime, you may soon be able to "own" a piece of copyright troll history: one of the bogus Righthaven copyright registrations, with which you can legally do, well, absolutely nothing. Though, it could be fun to see if you could convince the Las Vegas Review Journal that it needs to pay up for continuing to host the article for which you hold the copyright registration...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    DandonTRJ (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 8:09pm

    Wired has the hidden gold nugget in all of this:
    “The irony of this? Perhaps those who buy the copyrights could issue DMCA notices to the Review-Journal stopping them from redistributing them?” Randazza said via an e-mail, citing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
    What do they say about turnabout being fair play?

     

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  2.  
    icon
    PW (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 8:29pm

    "Ding-dong the witch is dead, the witchie-witch, the witch is dead, ding-dong the witch-o-witch is dead..." :)

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 8:53pm

    Pretty simple, you cannot have it both ways... Either they have the rights and their court battle was good, or they didn't have the rights, and so there is nothing to seize.

    Another Techdirt head shaker.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 8:54pm

    Re:

    It's so cool how you don't even bother to read the articles anymore.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 8:59pm

    Let's see the real value of the copyrighted works

    Assuming they did actually retain any copyrights, I'll be interested to see what these copyrighted works end up being worth at auction... a couple $ each maybe?

    I wonder if the Las Vegas Review Journal will swoop in and buy them all back to save face.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 9:13pm

    it should just be entered into the public domain ... no wait ... the public interest is not important.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Justin Olbrantz (Quantam), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 9:22pm

    Re: Re:

    He's got too many sites to patrol. There's no way he could spend the time to actually read a screen of text from each thread he trolls.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    big al, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 9:27pm

    software

    no one has mentioned the"software package developed for righthaven" that was so highly touted as a surefire way to tell what "persons" ect. used there copyrighted material....
    that should have some value and no one has heard a thing about it.....
    i'd like to bid on one of the physical copyright just to hang it on the wall and say to myself"sometimes what goes around comes around"

    my 2 cents worth!!

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 9:27pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    He's overpaid and underworked.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 9:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    (uhm ... perhaps minimum wage needs to be lowered because whoever is paying him that is getting scammed).

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 9:41pm

    Re: software

    Google Search is indeed quite valuable.

     

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  12.  
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    DandonTRJ (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 9:43pm

    Re:

    Try reading the court's order. It's even excerpted in the post for you.
    While Righthaven has argued now that it does not have more than the bare right to sue, as this Court previously held, Righthaven does possess copyright registrations that can be assigned by operation of law.
    Whatever they have, however (in)substantial, it's being auctioned.

     

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  13.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Mar 13th, 2012 @ 9:46pm

    Re:

    Oh that's a doozy! HA!

    Here's a question (probably will be in a IP Exam coming to a Law School soon)

    A court legally transfers copyrights from an Entity 'A' to another party/receivers 'B' that are legally not owned by A and instead owned by 'C', though the court in good faith and through testimony by A believes they are in fact owned by A, and then entity D purchases them in good faith from B.

    Questions: Who actually owns the copyrights, remembering that a court has transferred them? Who has liability in any dispute? Is their immunity from conversion for B and/or the court? Does D have, if they are not the rightful owners, an ability to recover any and all loss/damages?

    ;)

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 10:14pm

    Re:

    Copyright sure is stupid, you know, thanks to the 21st century, but I'm sure it will get smarter, right?

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Scote, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 10:36pm

    Now Stephens Media will have to argue Righthaven *didn't* have copyright

    Now Stephens Media will have buy all the copyrights at auction or to argue Righthaven *didn't* have copyright, ever--which I would think would leave Stephens media open to charges of fraud since they've been arguing the opposite all this time.

    If it is just the copyright registrations that are auctioned it will be interesting to see if the restrictions of the formerly secret strategic agreement, which said the registrations really still remained with Stephens media, will apply.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    fb39ca4, Mar 13th, 2012 @ 11:18pm

    unsuccessful copytroll is unsuccessful

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2012 @ 12:54am

    It seems like clearly the next thing to do would be to buy some of these copyrights and then start sending the Las Vegas Review Journal DMCA take-down requests on those articles.

    If the original contract transferred the copyrights to Righthaven who then exclusively licensed all rights but the right to sue back to Stephens Media, that contract will presumably be void once Righthaven no longer exists, with all rights reverting to the new owners of the copyright.

    Of course, one could argue that if it was enough of a sham to have the lawsuits thrown out (the whole "unauthorized practice of law" thing), it should be enough of a sham for there to have been no valid transfer of the copyrights, but on the other hand, if there was no transfer at all, then Stephens Media should have to pay Righthaven's legal fees (as if Righthaven had been a law firm representing them), which would be a much worse outcome for them.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 14th, 2012 @ 3:13am

    Re:

    Maybe I'm feeling generous... but that was a great troll. 8/10

     

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

  19.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Mar 14th, 2012 @ 3:19am

    Re:

    Pretty simple, you cannot have it both ways... Either they have the rights and their court battle was good, or they didn't have the rights, and so there is nothing to seize.

    Another Techdirt head shaker.


    Pretty simple, you cannot have it both ways... Either you read the article and realize we discuss this point and we explained the situation, or you don't even bother to read the article and your comment makes you look foolish.

    Another TAM head shaker.

     

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

  20.  
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    Berenerd (profile), Mar 14th, 2012 @ 4:17am

    If I had some money, I would bid, then, turn around and put them in the public domain...

     

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  21.  
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    Violated (profile), Mar 14th, 2012 @ 4:29am

    Re: Re:

    It all depends on what the copyright registration on these 275 works actually says. I highly doubt there is any license to use them for commercial gain and even if there wax the limits would be extremely minor.

    Things may yet get more complex when if 'C' was supposed to turn over rights to 'A' but did not correctly do so then the Court may yet force 'C' to turn over rights to 'A' which then get transferred to 'B'

    Best read these 275 registration but in all odds they are worthless just like their claims were.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Wayne, Mar 14th, 2012 @ 4:31am

    When are Sherman Fredericks and Steve Gibson going to step up and tell us how they still have an Ace up their sleeve and how this is all just guidance not really a loss.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Benjamin C. Wade, Mar 14th, 2012 @ 4:51am

    Re:

    That would just get the scammer OUT of trouble. Better to retain the "copyright" and give it to the EFF and see what they can do with it. The EFF was the one that busted this copyright troll anyway.

     

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  24.  
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    ken (profile), Mar 14th, 2012 @ 6:12am

    My guess is that the copyrights will also be stripped from Stephens media and the new owners will have full ownership of them. The only way for Stephens media to regain ownership of them would be to successfully bid for them.

     

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  25.  
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    BentFranklin (profile), Mar 14th, 2012 @ 7:37am

    Re:

    The witch isn't dead yet, just her flying monkeys. The witch will be dead when individuals face personal civil and criminal liability.

     

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  26.  
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    ken (profile), Mar 14th, 2012 @ 7:42am

    Re: Re:

    The court may rule that since Stephens Media was also a party to it that they also are stripped from any claim to the copyrights and the new owners will be given full control leaving Stephens media with nothing unless they successfully bid them back at auction.

     

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  27.  
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    tracker1 (profile), Mar 14th, 2012 @ 9:07am

    righthaven.com

    I think I'd almost have been willing to spend the $3k USD on the domain name just to redirect it to the pirate bay.

     

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  28.  
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    ECA (profile), Mar 14th, 2012 @ 11:23am

    Problems, always problems

    I love printed media, as well as the internet.
    The main problem comes with Mis-interpretation and corrections.
    Finding them on another page/date is extraneous. And when the original article is taken as Proof, we forget the corrections.
    This is like a medical journal, with a small mistake thats printed AFTER the fact. Even on the NET, making a correction to a publication AFTER, does not HELP those that read the information BEFORE the correction.
    At least with playing GAMES we understand that Changes happen, and IF' you are a beta tester, that changes happen MORE.

     

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  29.  
    icon
    Jim D (profile), Mar 15th, 2012 @ 12:00pm

    To all the righthaven haters

    You just don't see what excessive help & direction the court is giving them in this ruling.

     

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


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