Righthaven Terminates Lawyer, Stops Filing New Cases

Is copyright enforcer Righthaven, which has suffered a series of legal setbacks, folding its cards? (UPDATED with Righthaven CEO quote)

Righthaven burst on the scene over a year ago with a business model that involves enforcing newspaper owners’ copyrights in return for a cut of the profits. Since March of last year, the company has filed at least 276 lawsuits against various defendants, many of them small blogs and individuals who had reproduced all or part of an article on their website.

Once regarded as a potential new stream of revenue for newspaper owners, the Righthaven model now appears moribund. Wired today reports that Righthaven has not filed a new suit since July and that it has no plans to do so in coming months.

The company also laid off in-house attorney Steven Ganim, who was involved in at least 53 of Righthaven’s lawsuits.

Contacted by paidContent, Ganim said he was terminated but was not permitted to say why. He said he has no idea if Righthaven would continue to operate in the future. An outside lawyer who represents Righthaven said Ganim had not been terminated but instead took a leave of absence.

In a reply to an email from paidContent, Righthaven CEO Steven Gibson wrote, “Reports of Righthaven’s death are greatly exaggerated. It remains a going concern.”

The company has suffered a series of legal setbacks of late, the most serious of which occurred in June when a federal judge in Nevada ruled that Righthaven did not have standing to pursue the lawsuits because it did not own the copyrights over which it was suing. It is appealing that finding before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, a process that could take months or years.

Since the June ruling, the company has also been ordered to pay a $5,000 fine for legal misconduct and another $34,045 in legal fees after losing a recent case. It is also the target of a class action brought by Righthaven defendants who accuse it of abusing the legal process.