Righthaven entered into an agreement with a Stephens Media LLC, publisher of the Las Vegas Review Journal, to purchase copyrights to particular articles, photos, etc., presumably those having immediate newsworthiness insofar as being attractive for (re-)posting on small news blogs and websites. After acquiring the copyrights, Righthaven would then scour the Internet looking for their copyrighted articles, and, when (if) their content was found, they would sue infringers without notification and ask internet service providers to transfer control of the websites’ domain names to Righthaven. In practice, the offending articles may well have been located first, and then the corresponding copyrights purchased.
Now Righthaven is going to have to rethink their business model, having been rebuked by U.S. District Court Judge Roger Hunt in a 16-page indictment of their practices, as the August action filed by Righthaven against the Democratic Underground has been dismissed. Righthaven had to disclose its contracts due to a challenge by the Electronic Frontier Association. It turns out that while the contracts gave Righthaven the right to bring infringement actions against the news blogs and websites, they did not provide the legal standing upon which they brought some 274+ lawsuits. The Copyright Act specifically states: “While these exclusive rights may be transferred and owned separately, the assignment of a bare right to sue is ineffectual because it is not one of the exclusive rights…transfer solely of the right to sue does not confer standing on the assignee.”