Courts:

Righthaven files emergency appeal to block auction

Righthaven LLC, the Las Vegas newspaper copyright lawsuit company, filed an emergency appeal Tuesday to block an auction of its copyrights — an auction Righthaven says is aimed at dismantling the company, even though the copyrights are “allegedly suspect.”

A federal judge in Las Vegas last week granted Righthaven defendant Wayne Hoehn’s motion that Righthaven turn its intellectual property — including copyrights — over to a receiver so they could be auctioned.

Hoehn wants them auctioned because Righthaven owes him $63,720 for his legal expenses in defeating Righthaven’s copyright infringement lawsuit against him — one of 275 such suits Righthaven filed since March 2010 over Las Vegas Review-Journal and Denver Post material.

Any money raised in the auction would be applied toward the debt to Hoehn.

Righthaven, in Tuesday’s appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, acknowledged the copyrights at issue are “allegedly suspect” — that is, they may not have much value as six federal judges in Nevada and Colorado have ruled Righthaven lacked standing to sue under the copyrights.

That’s because, under its lawsuit contracts with the Review-Journal and the Post, the newspapers remained in control of the material Righthaven was suing over.

Righthaven is appealing several of those legal setbacks, along with rulings that Hoehn and some other defendants were protected by fair use in using R-J material without authorization.

In noting the value of its copyrights may be “suspect,” Righthaven suggested Hoehn’s attorneys at Randazza Legal Group in Las Vegas are seeking to auction them so that Righthaven will have to shut down.

Righthaven reiterated claims it has been unable to obtain a bond.

A bond would guarantee payment of Hoehn’s fees should Hoehn prevail in Righthaven’s appeal of the dismissal of Righthaven’s suit against the Kentucky man, who had posted an R-J column on a message board without authorization.

The bond is an important issue in the appeal because Hoehn’s attorneys would have been satisfied with the posting of a bond and wouldn’t have resorted to collection efforts that included having U.S. Marshals seize a Righthaven bank account and, now, the copyright auction plan.

“Hoehn is seeking to seize and sell allegedly suspect copyrights, the validity of which are currently subject to review by this court. In short, Hoehn seeks to dismantle or, at least, significantly inhibit Righthaven’s ability to operate as a going concern by seizing the content the company has sought to protect through copyright enforcement efforts while also jeopardizing the company’s ability to prosecute its pending appeals before this court,” said Tuesday’s appeal filed by one of Righthaven’s outside attorneys, Shawn Mangano, in Las Vegas.

Mangano reiterated arguments that once the federal judge in the Hoehn case, Philip Pro in Las Vegas, found Righthaven lacked standing to sue Hoehn, he then lacked jurisdiction to award Hoehn his legal fees.

Pro and two other federal judges handling Righthaven cases have rejected those arguments after defense attorneys said people hit with Righthaven’s no-warning lawsuits had the right to be reimbursed for their expenses in fighting the company.

Without owning its copyrights, Righthaven may have trouble pursuing its appeals and prosecuting pending lawsuits.

“By seizing and selling the copyrights at auction, Hoehn is seeking to eviscerate Righthaven’s ability to prosecute several appeals pending before this court, as well as also compromising the company’s ability to prosecute several pending district court actions. Hoehn is seizing the copyrights because doing so strikes at the heart of Righthaven’s content-protection driven business model,” Mangano wrote in his filing. “Hoehn is not seizing the copyrights for sale in an earnest attempt to satisfy the judgment because he has successfully argued to the district court that they insufficiently vest Righthaven with ownership of the copyrighted works.”

It’s unknown when the 9th Circuit will rule on the emergency request.

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  1. Righthaven has maintained all along that the copyright assignments are valid especially after renewing their agreement with Stephens Media. Now they call their own copyrights "suspect". Sounds like they are undermining their own appeals.

    Watch the 9th circuit again reject their emergency apeal. Plus, again where are they getting the money to file these appeals. They are stealing Wayne Hoehn's money to pay for them and they called their victims thieves.

    I would like to know where Stg Rock is? Haven't heard from him for months.

  2. Righthaven should be sanctioned from the court system for failing to pay. They should also be prevented from filing any more suits or briefs in their defense until past judgements are satisfied.

  3. Mangano has quiet the knack for stating the obvious, doesn't he. Of course Randazza is trying to "dismantle or, at least, significantly inhibit Righthaven". And I'm all but certain that if Righthaven ended up "eviscerate(d)" that Randazza wouldn't shed a tear. I mean Righthaven drew first blood and now they want pity? HA!

    Look steve-O and Mangano -- no one but you two care what forces combine to "jeopardiz(e) the company's ability to prosecute its pending appeals before this court," -- no one. as long as it happens, soon.

  4. There is a potential catch 22 here.

    If Righthaven does not have standing to sue because they do not control the copyright(s) in question, then it is hard to see how they can be seized and auctioned off. But if the copyrights can be seized, then it can be argued that Righthaven does in fact control them and therefore has standing to sue, negating the dismissal for lack of standing.

    I think Randazza would be better off trying to pierce the corporate veil and getting the money from Gibson and the Stephens family personally.

    As much as I dislike Righthaven, I think a couple of the judges involved have overstepped the bounds of justice. And above all, it is justice that must be served, no matter how distasteful it might appear.

  5. If Righthaven has been found to have no standing.........how can they continue to appeal. Either they will keep appealing until they find a judge that will grant them a ruling in their favor, or this is just a stall tactic. Regardless, they participated in questionable practices in attempting to what amounts to extorting money, and now have to pay for their actions. Either way, they got exactly what they deserve.

  6. Righthaven is once again rationalizing. What is the "emergency"? That they can't pay their creditors is not an "emergency." Righthaven's inability to pay its' creditors began when: (1) it was undercapitalized to carry out a "business plan." The Copyright Act provides for awards of attorneys fees to prevailing parties; (2) when Righthaven used up its' limited capital and revenues on other things, and (3) when the venture proved not to be as profitable as Righthaven had hoped.

    These debts were neither unforeseen nor unforeseeable -- unless one adopts Righthaven's narcissistic point of view. Reasonable people understand that you win some and lose some. Being on the hook for some attorneys fees should have been expected and adequately provided for and enough reserves retained as a matter of prudence. But Righthaven chose its' own path, which proved to be both impudent and imprudent. Now it wants to be "saved" from its' own willfulness. It may be the end for Righthaven, but it is neither unforeseen or unforeseeable. It is simply the predictable and foreseeable result of Righthaven's own undercapitalization, its' own disbursements, and its' own refusal to contribute more capital to its' business.

    Nor is it necessary to stop the otherwise proper sale of Righthaven's "assets" to try to satisfy its' creditor. That creditor's debt is property as much as (and likely more than) Righthaven's "assets". It is a debt which has its' origin in an order of a Court, based on statutory authority, existing law and findings of fact regularly and duly made in Open Court after a full and fair hearing in which Righthaven participated.

    Righthaven could pay its' debt if it's members either returned what they caused to be transferred out or ponied up more capital. Righthaven's "inability" to pay is of its' own doing.

    Righthaven is the big, bold, bombasic billionaire bully who picked a fight with the little weakling and, instead of giving up his lunch money, the little weakling fought back and managed to punch Righthaven in the nose. Now Righthaven has run to the Ninth Circuit crying: "Look. My nose is bleeding, its an emergency. I could die." (Leaving aside the irony of the R-J and its owner seeking succor from the Ninth Circuit which they seem to detest and excoriate at every turn), the only "emergency" is they would have to pay their debt or give up their sacred business plan of using the Courts to bully "settlements" from little people.

    Righthaven's response to the outcome in this case reminds me of the story of the young associate sent off to try a case in a distant city to wires (think old-time Twitter) home: "Justice Prevailed" to which the Senior Partner responded: "Appeal at once." Justice seems to have actually prevailed, so Righthaven is left with nothing except to Appeal.