Stephens Media Completely Capitulates In Democratic Underground/Righthaven Case

from the fair-use,-ftw dept

The key Righthaven case, in which the details of the strategic agreement between Righthaven and Stephens Media were finally released, was Righthaven's lawsuit against the Democratic Underground. DU, with help from lawyers at the EFF and Fenwick and West, countersued Stephens Media, arguing that it, not Righthaven, was really behind the lawsuits. That resulted in the release of the agreement between the two companies, and the court dismissed Righthaven from the proceedings... while keeping Stephens Media in the case. The Democratic Underground filed a motion for summary judgment... and in its response, Stephens Media has almost totally capitulated -- admitting that the Democratic Underground's use was "fair use" (full motion embedded below):
While Stephens Media disagrees with DU's characterizations of certain facts that are not material for purposes of the present Motion, it does not contest the substantive arguments presented by DU on the issues of volitional act and fair use as applied to the material facts of this case.
In other words, Stephens Media -- who according to the strategic agreement, had to give Righthaven the green light to sue -- now admits that the use by DU was fair use.

From there, Stephens focuses on a separate issue: making sure that additional details of its business relationship with various companies stay secret. Apparently, a number of documents have been filed under seal, and Stephens wants to make sure they don't see the light of day. Basically, DU wanted details of syndication relationships that Stephens has with other parties as part of its fair use argument, but Stephens is now giving them that argument, saying they agree it's fair use... just let us keep those other deals secret. But on the major point of the lawsuit, the copyright infringement, Stephens has now flat out said that it agrees the use was fair.

I do wonder if this opens the company up to possible problems, though, considering the belief in some courts that a copyright holder must consider fair use before taking action against someone for potentially infringing. Either way, it's clear that Stephens wants no part of continuing to fight Righthaven's fight here.

Of course, this is really yet another example of why something like SOPA is such a bad idea. Imagine Righthaven in a post-SOPA era? Remember that it was already arguing in each of its lawsuits that it should get the domain names of everyone it sued (based on absolutely nothing). If SOPA had been around, Righthaven would have been able to cause even more trouble for sites like DU, potentially cutting off all funds while the issue was litigated. Is that really the future we want?

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  • identicon
    out_of_the_blue, 18 Nov 2011 @ 2:14pm

    Whew! You pulled in SOPA from out of the blue!

    Speaking of SOPA, I'd like to see you focus more on possible legalities from its mis-use. That seems to me politically /possible/ to add, and I'd approve of it.

    But wait, Mike! In a prior piece you hoped that the Righthaven principals (that means people) wouldn't be held personally liable for their outright extortion! awyers-to-go-after-stephens-media-media-news-righthaven-principles.shtml

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Nov 2011 @ 3:09pm

      Re: Whew! You pulled in SOPA from out of the blue!

      I'm not even sure if I understand your comment, but...

      Mike was talking about how he was worried by the idea of going after personal assets of individuals in an LLC. The whole point of an LLC is to Limit the Liability of individuals who had nothing to do with dumb decisions by their cohorts.

      In the current article, I'm assuming your pointing to Mike's comments indicating he's happy that Stephens Media was kept in the case and Righthaven was booted. Righthaven did not belong in the case, as their agreement only granted Righthaven the right to sue, but not use the copyrights in question (which you can't do).

      Both articles are about properly applying liability, and are consistent with each other. Your argument, if I understand it correctly, is flawed.

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

  • icon
    Chosen Reject (profile), 18 Nov 2011 @ 3:15pm

    Thank you Righthaven, for being another in a long line of groups that show that abuse of SOPA is not just possible, but inevitable. The sad thing is, what we're calling "potential abuse" now is probably the way the lobbyists of PIPA/SOPA planned on using it anyway.

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

    • identicon
      Ed C., 18 Nov 2011 @ 3:48pm


      No doubt! SOPA defenders have constantly insisted that it means something other than what it says, and when pushed on the matter, they just wave their hands and either say we're reading it wrong, or the bill won't be used in the way the was worded. Two ways to look at this is that they are charlatans who absolutely indend to use (and abuse) the proposed law the way it was written, or are complete fools who have absolutely no idea how to draft a law to actually state their intentions. I'd guess that both are behind this bill, and, either way, have no qualms about collateral damage in the war for private privilege and profit.

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

  • icon
    Al Roberts aka. me (profile), 18 Nov 2011 @ 4:46pm

    Classic BIG CRIME DRAMA, straight out of Hollywood. The true bad guy washes his hands of his henchman. Not really a suprise. Sounds like something Peter Sellars would star in.

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

  • icon
    Rex Karz (profile), 20 Nov 2011 @ 2:08pm

    smells like RICO to me

    I wonder if the reasons Stevens Media wants to keep the other material sealed is because it reveals a clear case of RICO by Stevens Media and other entities, lawyers?


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

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