Judge: ‘Copyright troll’ Righthaven may have lied in hundreds of lawsuits

(RAW STORY)   The liberal political forum Democratic Underground, LLC. (DU) has escaped a lawsuit filed by Righthaven, LLC. that claimed a user illegally appropriated several paragraphs of a news story.

In the ruling, a Las Vegas judge wrote that Righthaven’s claims were invalid because it did not actually hold a copyright on the story — and that it may have mislead judges in hundreds of other lawsuits.

The user’s excerpt was five sentences long, taken from a 50-sentence story in The Las Vegas Review Journal, and included a hyperlink for DU users to read more.

U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt wrote that Righthaven “made multiple inaccurate and likely dishonest statements to the court” and ordered them to explain why they should not be sanctioned for it.

He also allowed DU’s counterclaim against Stephens Media, owner of The Las Vegas Review Journal and true holder of the copyright Righthaven claimed ownership of, to move forward in seeking to recover attorney’s fees.

The group, which makes its business on suing websites, had asserted in court documents that the copyright had been transferred to them. It was later revealed that they had simply agreed to represent the paper’s claim for a cut of the potential profits.

This detail went undisclosed in hundreds of prior Righthaven lawsuits, the judge noted, suggesting that other courts may have been mislead.

“In dismissing Righthaven’s claim in its entirety, Chief Judge Hunt’s ruling decisively rejected the Righthaven business model of conveying rights to sue, alone, as a means to enforce copyrights,” Laurence Pulgram, an attorney representing DU, said in a media advisory issued by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). “The ruling speaks for itself.”

Righthaven, known to critics as a “copyright troll,” generally does not end up in court when it files lawsuits. The suits are typically filed without prior warning as a means of demanding settlement, which they tend to get. Some Righthaven copyright claims exceed $150,000 at their outset, and the company said it had filed 275 of these suits at time of this writing.

“This kind of copyright trolling from Righthaven and Stephens Media has undermined free and open discussion on the Internet, scaring people out of sharing information and discussing the news of the day,” EFF staff attorney Kurt Opsahl said in a release. “We hope this is the beginning of the end of this shameful litigation campaign.”

The judge’s full ruling follows.

Righthaven v. Democratic Underground – No Standing Ruling by Chief U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt
Disclosure: Raw Story Media, Inc. was sued by Righthaven earlier this year over use of a photograph, but the two parties reached an amicable agreement out of court.


One Response to Judge: ‘Copyright troll’ Righthaven may have lied in hundreds of lawsuits

  • To whom it may concern,

    Over the past 16 years this Canadian veteran has been forced by the unlawful decisions of the VRAB (Veterans Review and Appeal Board; a division of Veterans Affairs) to bring ‘motions’ to the Fed. Ct. (Trial Division, ref. #’s T-157-98; T-2137-99; T-67-03; T-401-05 & T-617-09; see the …really-pay hyperlink at signature block) in an attempt to force the government of Canada to pay the disability pension benefits that this Applicant seeks. In 5 (including the last 2) out of 6 rulings by the Fed. Ct., this matter has been referred back to the VRAB (i.e., ruled in favour of this veteran). As in another instance (refer to Fed. Ct. case# T-2137-99), this veteran is left waiting while the VRAB stall and do nothing towards recognizing their obligations to this veteran (and all other veterans of the Canadian Forces and Mounted Police).

    While awaiting for something called the actual service of justice, this Applicant has also been denied (over the past 5-6 years) disability pension benefits by the CPP group …. with this second unlawful dept. using the same unfounded ‘excuses’ that the VRAB used (and which resulted in the rulings against the VRAB). I recently received a ruling of the Fed. Ct. which essentially denied me the right to bring this matter before them in my search of justice ….. thus extending and amplifying this exercise in futility for this veteran ….. along with that of far too many other veterans like him.

    If this is the manner in which the government of Canada treats the men and women who have placed their lives on the line for that same government in local and foreign theatres of conflict, how must one believe that that same government is treating the remainder of the Canadian citizens such as you and your family members?

    I have contacted Legal Aid AB, Legal Guidance Calgary, and a half dozen other organizations in my search for justice (not to mention in excess of 400 solicitors in the Calgary, Alberta and other Canadian provinces), and have yet to find a solicitor willing to act on a ‘pro bono’ basis in representing this Applicant’s claims with the Canadian government departments concerned. While such an effort requires an exceptional level of honesty and integrity, where can I find such an ‘animal’? Do you have what it takes?

    Brian Bradley
    #801, 939 Bracewood Dr. S.W.
    Calgary, AB, Canada T2W 3M4
    Ph.: (403) 455 – 9353
    email: bcbrad3@gmail.com


    How Much Do We Really Pay?
    ….. & OTHER INJUSTICES (‘click on’ the Internet hyperlinks provided below)

    The following revised history of this veteran’s claims with Veterans Affairs is due solely to both the exceptional and outstanding “temerity” of Canadian Senator T. Banks, along with his persistent patience with this veteran. All of which prompts the belated expression of this veteran’s gratitude for such a diligent Senator. Thank you very much Senator T. Banks.

    My name is Brian C. Bradley. I am a Veteran of the Canadian Forces.

    In 1966 I completed my army reserve basic training. In 1989 I completed my army reserve officer training, and began nearly five years of service in the Canadian Navy training as a Combat Systems Engineer (CSE, or 044A in Canadian military classifcations). This same ‘five years of service’ began with basic officer training at Chilliwack, B.C., continued with second-language training at St. Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, and a year in Esquimalt, followed by just under three years of service in Halifax, NS.

    While training in Esquimalt, I was billeted to the HMCS Qu’Apelle, where I suffered a fall in the shower onboard that warship, injuring my spinal cord at three levels.

    Because the accident occurred while the HMCS Qu’Appelle was away from her home port, I was confined to my rack, and provided with painkillers until returning to Esquimalt five days later. On arriving there, I was rushed by ambulance to the base hospital.

    Other than being supplied with additional pain killers and 3 or 4 brief sessions of physiotherapy, my real injuries were not treated at that base hospital, nor at the base hospital in Halifax, where I was sent about two months later as part of the next phase of training.

    Upon release from the Canadian Navy in 1993 I was assessed by a civilian general practitioner in Lower Sackville, NS, who immediately identified a C5/C6 radiculopathy (upper spinal cord condition), along with indications of other potential spinal cord level involvement, that had resulted from the accident onboard the HMCS Qu’Appelle.

    This same GP initially referred me for assessment to a diagnostic service in Halifax (i.e., spinal cord MRI), an orthopaedic surgeon, and an internal medicine specialist. All of these physicians agreed that the three levels of spinal cord injuries (i.e., C5/C6; T11/T12 & L2/L3) were most likely the result of the accident that had occurred while I was serving onboard HMCS Qu’Appelle.

    Email author: bcbrad3

    In March 1996 I applied to the Veterans’ Review and Appeal Board (VRAB; a division of Veterans Affairs) for a disability pension. On three separate occasions within the first year of application (refer to Table ‘A’ on next page) the VRAB ruled against my application for a disability pension. I then obtained a ruling from the Trial Division of the Federal Court (Fed. Ct.) that the matter be referred back to a differently-constituted panel of the VRAB board (Fed. Ct. case T-157-98).

    In the next year, the allegedly differently-constituted VRAB panel ruled twice more against my claim. The matter was once again brought before the Trial Division which ruled that the matter be referred back to a differently-constituted panel and awarded me costs (Fed. Ct. case T-2137-99).

    Because this next allegedly differently-constituted VRAB panel failed to provide a decision within the next year, I filed a motion of Contempt of Court with the Trial Division. While the Trial Division (i.e., the Hon. Mr. Justice Martineau) would not grant this motion by citing the VRAB in contempt, it did again award me costs, even though none were requested, and supplied a step-by-step procedure to obtain justice in my case.

    With no legal training, I attempted to bring the VRAB before the Trial Division again, after being once again denied a disability pension by the VRAB’s next (and sixth) decision. I lost this decision despite having provided professional testimony from a neurosurgeon, an orthopaedic surgeon and a general practitioner with more than 35 years of experience.
    Email author: bcbrad3

    None of these submissions by physicians were contradicted by testimony from similar professionals on behalf of the VRAB, yet the Trial Division of the Fed. Ct. ruled against my claims.

    I was encouraged to re-approach the Trial Division based upon the experience of a lady who won her case in the Appeal Division in Ontario using my first two cases (i.e., T-157-98 & T-2137-99) as precedents.

    To render such a re-approach at such a late stage in the events, I was encouraged to concentrate on my lower back injuries …. thereby, allegedly attesting to settlement for the upper back injuries …. with neither of these settlements ever occurring!

    Not more than four years ago, The Trial Division ruled again in my favour (T-401-05) and referred the matter back again to a differently-constituted panel of the VRAB board. That same board ruled on four more separate occasions against my application for a disability pension, forcing the matter back to the Trial Division for ultimate resolution (T-617-09).

    The VRAB fully exhausted the total number of decisions to which they were entitled in my application, recognizing that an award to me of a disability pension would mean financial ruin and subsequent political suicide for the government ‘in charge’ at the time of such a decision, given the tens of thousands of other veterans who remained deprived of such benefits.

    The Hon. Mr. Justice Phelan (T-617-09) decided: “THIS COURT’S JUDGMENT is that the application for judicial review is granted and the Appeal Board’s decision is quashed.” Unfortunately, such a ruling does nothing more than refer the same matter back to the Respondent (e.g., Veterans’ Affairs), thus prolonging the history of my claims and thereby moving the VA’s actions from the ridiculous to the sublime.

    While Canadian governments over the past 80+ years have continued to disregard their legislated obligations to veterans of the CF and Mounted Police, how do you think these same governments are treating(?) the remainder of Canadian citizens?

    Email author: bcbrad3

    On top of all of this, I have had to represent myself in the Trial Division of the Fed. Ct. on several separate occasions with at least 6 of these applying to my claims with the VRAB [refer to case numbers: T-157-98, Bradley v. Canada (Attorney General), 1999 CanLII 7476 (F.C.) or http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fct/doc/1999/1999canlii7476/1999canlii7476.html; T-2137-99, Bradley v. Canada (Attorney General), 2001 FCT 793 or http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fct/doc/2001/2001fct793/2001fct793.html; T-2137-99, Bradley v. Canada (Attorney General), 2003 FCT 12 (CanLII) or http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fct/doc/2003/2003fct12/2003fct12.html; T-67-03, Bradley v. Canada (Attorney General), 2004 FC 996 or http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fct/doc/2004/2004fc996/2004fc996.html; T-401-05, Bradley v. Canada (Attorney General), 2005 FC 1470 or http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fct/doc/2005/2005fc1470/2005fc1470.html; and T-617-09, Bradley v. Canada (Attorney General), 2011 FC 309 or http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fct/doc/2011/2011fc309/2011fc309.html%5D.

    In all of these decisions (including the latter two), the Hon. Justices supported my claims and rejected the VRAB’s decisions. The greater weight of factual evidence by specialists in the fields of medicine applicable to my spinal cord injuries supported my claims, as did the greater majority of the above-listed decisions.

    Who but a politician who allegedly represents his electorate but didn’t see ‘adequate votes’ in seriously supporting this applicant’s claims, would ignore these facts and not attempt to ensure this applicant receive something resembling the actual service of justice …. not to mention the adherence to legislated laws by a Fed. government dept. (i.e., VRAB)?

    History has been written, how more often do we have to ignore it before learning our lessons? To support our (i.e., all veterans’) efforts ‘click on’ the following and join our group:



    Email author: bcbrad3

    Yours truly,

    Brian C. Bradley

    ‘We are all one’, lest we forget

    Brian Bradley
    #801, 939 Bracewood Dr. S.W.
    Calgary, AB, Canada T2W 3M4
    Ph.: (403) 455 – 9353
    email: bcbrad3@gmail.com


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