Righthaven Accused Of Avoiding Paying Legal Fees Owed

from the 30-days-to-get-away? dept

In the continuing saga of Righthaven (remember them?), the firm is trying to hold off on paying the legal fees ordered by the court in one of the many cases so far (more legal fee awards are likely on the way). The defendant, Michael Leon, and his lawyers (from the Randazza Group) have filed a motion (embedded below) that rips into Righthaven, claiming that the company is looking to avoid paying. They claim that they contacted Righthaven to arrange payment, but instead, Righthaven asked the court for a 30 day stay to avoid having to pay the $3,815 it owes.

Leon’s lawyers are not pleased (and, well, that’s understandable — that’s their money at stake). They’re claiming that the motion to stay by Righthaven is really an attempt to avoid payment, and to use the 30 days to shift assets away to avoid having to pay, including potentially getting rid of the copyrights, which Righthaven probably doesn’t hold in the first place.

If any court ever were to find that Righthaven owned the copyrights it claimed to own, an unlikely proposition in itself, then the full copyright rights would be subject to seizure in satisfaction of a judgment by a judgment creditor. More likely than not, the ?rights? obtained by Righthaven are worth less than paper upon which the agreements transferring them are printed. Nonetheless, worth a million dollars or nothing at all, such a right is intangible property and, as such, may be seized to satisfy the Firm?s judgment, with its value to be determined at auction. To ensure such property is present to even be seized, though, injunctive relief is necessary. Furthermore, the relief sought is not extreme ? all that is sought is an order that Righthaven may not disgorge its assets.

A stay of 30 days will enable Righthaven to liquidate money, intangible property rights in its domain name and trademarks, and its claimed copyright rights ? again, to the extent Righthaven owns them at all. Depending on which version of the Strategic Alliance Agreement between Righthaven and Stephens Media LLC one looks at, Stephens Media LLC has either the immediate right to reversion, or the right to reversion with 30 day?s notice and a nominal payment. See Hoehn, Case No. 2:11-cv-00050 (Doc. # 28). Even if Righthaven does truly own the copyrights it obtained from Stephens Media LLC ? an unlikely proposition based on recent precedent ? it may still use the 30 day stay to resell the copyright ? potentially even to Stephens Media LLC itself.

It then goes on to claim that Righthaven has a history of being somewhat shady, noting its corporate structure, as well as statements from its CEO Steve Gibson that the motion claims were either “facially incorrect” or “found to be legally unsupported.” Based on that, it notes the fear that Righthaven will try to get out of paying:

In light of these circumstances, and Righthaven?s refusal to put anything regarding its alleged plans to satisfy the Firm?s judgment in writing…, the Firm has neither basis, nor reason, to trust Righthaven, and this court should join its honorable brethren in its strong skepticism of this champertous scheme…. To boot, Righthaven?s only known source of income, copyright infringement litigation, has screeched to a halt in the face of judicial scrutiny; in fact, no new lawsuits have been filed at all since May 2011…. Therefore, it stands to reason that Righthaven has no new revenue on its horizon ? especially since its dozens of cases in the District of Colorado have been stayed

It goes on to rake Righthaven over the coals for its efforts to avoid paying legal fees and then concludes with this little gem:

Furthermore, if Righthaven?s CEO can provide a statement, under penalty of perjury, that it cannot scrounge up $381.50 in less than 24 hours, then the undersigned will gladly find someone willing to loan this amount to Righthaven for that purpose, and pledges to do so within 60 minutes of being presented with this sworn declaration.

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Companies: randazza group, righthaven

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Comments on “Righthaven Accused Of Avoiding Paying Legal Fees Owed”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Again: Actual thievery, unlike the so called “stealing” that happens every time someone downloads a song.

I wonder what would happen if we added the damages caused (i.e., fees owed, money actually stolen, royalties owed, “creative” accounting, etc.) by clueless copyright lawyers, corrupt execs and dumb copyright defending organisations. How would that compare with the supposed billions in loses the copylovers like to throw around?

FUDbuster (profile) says:

I strongly suspect there will be many more judgments against Righthaven, and not just for attorney’s fees for defending questionable copyright suits. I mean intentional torts, with Righthaven as the defendant. Not only will that wipe out whatever funds Righthaven may have (and I’m guessing they’re all too ready to say they have $0 on paper), but they’ll obviously go after those who employed Righthaven, MediaNews Group and Stephens Media. I suspect too that those employers will be writing some really big checks by the time this is all over.

I have to admit, watching Righthaven supernova is kind of fun.

FUDbuster (profile) says:

By the way, the other defendant in the Leon case was NOT awarded attorney’s fees: http://ia600208.us.archive.org/5/items/gov.uscourts.nvd.76455/gov.uscourts.nvd.76455.55.0.pdf

This case is sort of an anomaly since there was a problem with serving the defendant properly. I don’t read too much into the grant of fees to one defendant and the denial of fees to the other.

I’m waiting for a defendant to be awarded fees when there aren’t any such problems. That will be much more noteworthy.

FUDbuster (profile) says:

I do not think it means what you think it means

Is “disgorge” really a legal or financial term? Isn’t that what they want Righthaven to do?

It is a legal term. I’ve not seen it used in other contexts.

From Black’s:

disgorgement, n. (15c) The act of giving up something (such as profits illegally obtained) on demand or by legal compulsion. ? disgorge, vb.

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