Why Is Righthaven Demanding The Domain Names Of Sites It Sues?

from the it-makes-no-sense dept

In covering all of the Righthaven lawsuits, we’ve noted that the company sues everyone for $75,000 and, bizarrely, that it also demands they hand over their domain name. To date, no one has actually done that. Every settlement that’s been revealed has been for $5,000 or less, and hasn’t included anything about a domain name. But, some are pointing out just how ridiculous it is to demand the domain name transfer on a copyright claim. As lawyer Evan Brown notes at that link:

This is a copyright lawsuit, not one for trademark infringement or cybersquatting. Nothing in the Copyright Act provides the transfer of a domain name as a remedy. Such an order would be tantamount to handing the whole website over to Righthaven just because there may have been a couple of infringing items.

The Copyright Act does provide for the impounding and disposition of infringing articles (See 17 USC 503). So it’s plausible that a court would award the deletion of the actual alleged infringing articles. Or if it wanted to be weirdly and anachronistically quaint about it, could order that the infringing files on the server be removed and somehow destroyed in a way additional to just being deleted. In any event, there’s no basis for a court to order the transfer of a domain name as a result of copyright infringement.

Of course, the real reason probably has more to do with the typical lawyer’s concept of “scare them into settling,” and adding a demand for the domain is just a part of that, hoping that the recipients of the lawsuits will be more willing to roll over and settle if they think their entire website is at risk.

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Companies: righthaven

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Comments on “Why Is Righthaven Demanding The Domain Names Of Sites It Sues?”

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Ima Fish (profile) says:

Let’s assume Righthaven sues some blogger. They get a default judgment. How do they collect? They’d have to file an action in the same state as the blogger to get collection proceedings started. They’d have to file debtor’s exams to find out where his money is. Etc., etc., etc.

A much better way is to get the domain name as a part of the default. That’s a huge leverage against the blogger. If he wants to continue blogging at the same site, he’s going to cough up some money to Righthaven.

Danny says:


Of course, the real reason probably has more to do with the typical lawyer’s concept of “scare them into settling,” and adding a demand for the domain is just a part of that, hoping that the recipients of the lawsuits will be more willing to roll over and settle if they think their entire website is at risk.
That and they hope that if they do manage to get just one site to hand over their domain name they can add, “…and we’ll take your domain name (and you little dog) too” to their list of threats.

average_joe says:

I’m surprised you were comfortable quoting Evan Brown. He is, after all, an IP attorney. In your little world that makes him necessarily an abuser of a system for profit, and one to be hated.

That having been said, it’s obvious why Righthaven throws in the demand for the domain name. You’re right on the money with your analysis, IMO.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’m surprised you were comfortable quoting Evan Brown. He is, after all, an IP attorney. In your little world that makes him necessarily an abuser of a system for profit, and one to be hated.

Can’t let go of your misguided crusade?

I never said IP attorneys abused the system. I’m good friends with many and talk to them all the time. What I said — and amazingly, you still can’t seem to comprehend — was first an explanation of how certain actions were abuse of the system, and then noted why I found such people who do that or think that it’s acceptable quite despicable human beings.

Of course, piling on by acting like a little baby because someone called you out for cheering on clear abuse of a system, only adds to the initial impression. But, do go on…

average_joe says:

Re: Re: Re:

Here’s what I don’t get, Mike. I don’t recall ever saying the Righthaven or USCG were great. I never said they were terrible either. I’m actually indifferent about them.

All I said was that I’m following them closely because I’m learning a lot by researching the legal issues that come up.

I’m not cheering for them, nor do I have intention of ever doing what they’re doing. Yet, for some reason you’ve decided that I’m going to do all of the most despicable things that they’re doing. Not only do you think I’m going to do them in the future, you speak as though I’m doing them right now.

Would you like it if I jumped to so many conclusions about you and held things against you that you haven’t even done yet? I doubt it. I certainly don’t like it.

Do you see my point?

Thanks for talking about this with me.

average_joe says:

Re: Re: Re:

I just thought of this…

Politically I’m a centrist. My liberal friends think I’m too conservative. My conservative friends think I’m too liberal. It all depends on their point of view.

With these mass lawsuits, I’m in the middle. I don’t think they’re the greatest thing ever, but I don’t think they’re the worst thing ever either.

If you’re on one end of the spectrum, I probably appear to you to be on the other end. But I’m not. I’m in the middle.

Look, I’m an open book. I posted this yesterday: http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100907/04392010918.shtml#c1783

educated_joe says:

Re: Re: Re:

I realize I’m feeding a troll, but I will admit, he is pretty good at what he does, and I’ll give him credit for that.

However, in the off chance that he’s just an idiot making an ass of himself on the internet, then I’d like to point out that I find it odd he claims he calls ’em like he sees ’em, and he doesn’t care for exaggerating reality, when at the same time that is exactly what he is doing in relation to mike’s comments on his trolling.

I relation to the article, The solution to all these ip extortion problems could be found by simply making it much easier to disbar lawyers for frivolous or exaggerated claims of damages.

Unfortunately, that will never happen because most politicians and lawmakers, coincidentally, happen to be lawyers themselves.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

It has its moments. It’s the flames and the silence spells that really ruin the whole experience. Also the fact that people don’t throw food at me anymore, since “the man” put up those damned signs…

Actually, the burns don’t hurt too much. Ever since I lost my spine, I can’t really feel anything or form an informed opinion, so, every time someone asks for my opinion, I just blurt out some beaten old line or some nonsense and scurry away. If that fails, I just nitpick on grammar or semantics until they give up.

Being a troll also isn’t a bad job. You can make some coin working for the *AA, disrupting otherwise productive conversations about copyright and whatnot. My favorite line is the old “infringement is theft”. Always good to get a few panties in a knot.

Trolling under different aliases is also nice, but since the snowflake armageddon, can’t do that anymore. A shame really. I always wondered what it was like to have some friends.

darryl says:

Simple reason why, IMO.

Ofcourse, they or the state has the right to demand any and all assets acquired from the proceeds of crime.

You think if the police raid a drug lab, they let the crims keep the equipment just not the chemicals, or do you think they let them keep the hourse and land purchased from the money they make ? No..

Are these file sharing sites that are not whinning about their domain names, consider that is exactly what they were doing to the creators of the files they distribute.

Ie, they were profiting illegally off the IP off someone else, but what their own IP protected by the same laws they are breaking !!..

As for the amount, one side goes one way, the other goes the other, and if they are lucky they meet somewhere in the middle, and settle. If not they let the court decide.

And if those demands are allready on the lawsuits, then the courts have allready approved, and signed those lawsuits, agreeing that they are warranted, and at that value.

Thats why most settle, they know they are fighting a losing battle otherwise. If they let the courts decide.

average_joe says:

Re: Righthaven - Domain Name Transfer Demand

How do you figure? Copyright misuse is a defense to infringement. To use the defense, the plaintiff must be using a copyright to secure an exclusive right that they are not entitled to. That’s not the case here. Righthaven hasn’t secured anything that they aren’t allowed to. They’re just saying that they might go for the defendant’s domain name if they don’t settle.

average_joe says:

Re: Re: Re: Righthaven - Domain Name Transfer Demand

I’ve never studied extortion, so I couldn’t say whether this is extortion or not. Looking at one of Righthaven’s complaints, I see that they are asking the Court to: “Direct Network Solutions and any successor domain name registrar for the Domain to lock the Domain and transfer control of the Domain to Righthaven.”

Noticeably they don’t offer any authority to support this request. If I had to guess, I’d say asking the Court to grant you something that you don’t have a right to have is not extortion. I really don’t know, though.

Cris Ericson (user link) says:

link to law library

What does copyright protect?
Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section “What Works Are Protected.”

Can I copyright my website?
The original authorship appearing on a website may be protected by copyright. This includes writings, artwork, photographs, and other forms of authorship protected by copyright. Procedures for registering the contents of a website may be found in Circular 66, Copyright Registration for Online Works.

Can I copyright my domain name?
Copyright law does not protect domain names. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a nonprofit organization that has assumed the responsibility for domain name system management, administers the assignation of domain names through accredited registers.

How do I protect my recipe?
A mere listing of ingredients is not protected under copyright law. However, where a recipe or formula is accompanied by substantial literary expression in the form of an explanation or directions, or when there is a collection of recipes as in a cookbook, there may be a basis for copyright protection. Note that if you have secret ingredients to a recipe that you do not wish to be revealed, you should not submit your recipe for registration, because applications and deposit copies are public records. See FL 122, Recipes.

Can I copyright the name of my band?
No. Names are not protected by copyright law. Some names may be protected under trademark law. Contact the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, 800-786-9199, for further information.

How do I copyright a name, title, slogan or logo?
Copyright does not protect names, titles, slogans, or short phrases. In some cases, these things may be protected as trademarks. Contact the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, 800-786-9199, for further information. However, copyright protection may be available for logo artwork that contains sufficient authorship. In some circumstances, an artistic logo may also be protected as a trademark.

How do I protect my idea?
Copyright does not protect ideas, concepts, systems, or methods of doing something. You may express your ideas in writing or drawings and claim copyright in your description, but be aware that copyright will not protect the idea itself as revealed in your written or artistic work.

Does my work have to be published to be protected?
Publication is not necessary for copyright protection.

Can I register a diary I found in my grandmother’s attic?
You can register copyright in the diary only if you own the rights to the work, for example, by will or by inheritance. Copyright is the right of the author of the work or the author’s heirs or assignees, not of the one who only owns or possesses the physical work itself. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section “Who Can Claim Copyright.”

How do I protect my sighting of Elvis?
Copyright law does not protect sightings. However, copyright law will protect your photo (or other depiction) of your sighting of Elvis. File your claim to copyright online by means of the electronic Copyright Office (eCO). Pay the fee online and attach a copy of your photo. Or, go to the Copyright Office website, fill in Form CO, print it, and mail it together with your photo and fee. For more information on registration a copyright, see SL-35. No one can lawfully use your photo of your sighting, although someone else may file his own photo of his sighting. Copyright law protects the original photograph, not the subject of the photograph.

Does copyright protect architecture?
Yes. Architectural works became subject to copyright protection on December 1, 1990. The copyright law defines “architectural work” as “the design of a building embodied in any tangible medium of expression, including a building, architectural plans, or drawings.” Copyright protection extends to any architectural work created on or after December 1, 1990. Also, any architectural works that were unconstructed and embodied in unpublished plans or drawings on that date and were constructed by December 31, 2002, are eligible for protection. Architectural designs embodied in buildings constructed prior to December 1, 1990, are not eligible for copyright protection. See Circular 41, Copyright Claims in Architectural Works

Can I get a star named after me and claim copyright to it?
No. There is a lot misunderstanding about this. Names are not protected by copyright. Publishers of publications such as a star registry may register a claim to copyright in the text of the volume [or book] containing the names the registry has assigned to stars, and perhaps the compilation of data; but such a registration would not extend protection to any of the individual star names appearing therein. Copyright registration of such a volume of star names does not confer any official or governmental status on any of the star names included in the volume. For further information on copyright protection and names, see Circular 34, Copyright Protection Not Available for Names, Titles, or Short Phrases

Note: The Copyright Office offers introductory answers to frequently asked questions about copyright, registration, and services of the Office. Links throughout the answers will guide you to further information on our website or from other sources. For any other questions, please visit our Contact Us page.


Home | Contact Us | Legal Notices | Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) | Library of Congress

U.S. Copyright Office
101 Independence Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20559-6000
(202) 707-3000

Revised: 24-Nov-2009

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