Marshals ordered to seize Righthaven assets
(VEGAS INC) Las Vegas copyright infringement lawsuit filer Righthaven LLC’s financial problems grew Tuesday when the federal court in Las Vegas commanded the U.S. Marshals Service to seize more than $63,000 in Righthaven assets to satisfy a creditor’s judgment and costs.
Lance Wilson, clerk of the court, signed a writ of execution requested by attorneys for Wayne Hoehn, who was sued for copyright infringement by Righthaven — but then defeated Righthaven in court when his case was dismissed this summer.
Righthaven since March 2010 has filed 275 lawsuits against websites, bloggers and message board posters claiming they infringed on material from the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Denver Post by posting their content online without authorization.
The company’s litigation campaign stalled this summer after three suits were thrown out on fair use grounds and five judges in Nevada and Colorado ruled Righthaven lacked standing to sue because it didn’t control the newspaper copyrights it claimed to own.
Hoehn, a Kentucky message board poster, had posted a Review-Journal column on a sports betting website.
Righthaven said the no-warning suits against Hoehn and the other defendants were needed to deter rampant infringement of news content, but Hoehn’s attorneys said the suit against him was aimed at chilling Hoehn’s free speech rights.
After U.S. District Judge Philip Pro in Las Vegas dismissed Righthaven’s suit against Hoehn this summer on both fair use and standing grounds, he also ordered Righthaven to pay his $34,045.50 in legal fees to Randazza Legal Group of Las Vegas.
Righthaven has refused to pay and has said it faces bankruptcy if a creditor like Hoehn tries to seize its assets. The company has said it’s low on cash because the problems with its litigation campaign have reduced lawsuit settlement revenue. But even as the company has refused to pay Hoehn, it has continued paying attorneys to litigate other cases in Nevada, Colorado and South Carolina.
It’s appealing to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals both the dismissal of its suit against Hoehn as well as the award for his attorney’s fees — one of several attorney’s fee awards Righthaven has been hit with or is likely to be hit with.
The writ of execution signed Tuesday covers not only the original $34,045 in fees, but nearly $30,000 more in fees racked up by Randazza Legal Group in trying to get Righthaven to pay the first $34,045.
The entire writ, which includes a small amount of interest, is for $63,720.80.
A message for comment was placed with Righthaven on the writ.
Based on its past practice, Righthaven is likely to fight execution of the writ with another court appeal — though it hasn’t taken the bankruptcy option off the table.
The writ was issued after Randazza Legal Group attorneys asked the court to issue it Saturday, one day after Righthaven missed a deadline to either pay the original $34,045 or post a bond guaranteeing payment while it appealed the fee award.
“Righthaven has exhausted any benefit of the doubt that it could be afforded, and it is time for it to pay the consequences for its actions — starting with Hoehn’s lawful judgment plus the accrued costs and fees expended in the (so far) futile attempts to compel Righthaven to take this court’s orders seriously,’’ Randazza attorneys wrote in Saturday’s request.