In a new lawsuit, RightHaven has lost another countersuit against it to the tune of $119k for costs, legal fees and attorney’s costs. What is significant about this ruling is that RightHaven is already having trouble paying for a ~$35k lawsuit it just lost a couple of months ago. They had actually filed appeal papers that were dismissed by the 9th Circuit.
This new outcome will probably put them over the edge and into insolvency. The once the veil of the corporation is broken, and it will, Mr. Gibson, RighHaven’s CEO will see his entire assests seized.
To date, freely available intellectual property has fostered the growth of knowledge and has helped to create the advanced world we live in today. Free and open interwebs has accelerated the availability and utility of free knowledge. This has spawned an explosion in creativity and new business opportunities. To a large degree knowledge has been democratized to the greatest level in human history.
That isn’t good news for a small group of elites who originally gained power from the control of information and media. Pols have only been too happy to support these elites with draconian new patent and copyright laws. Not satisfied, IP trolls are still trying to push the envelope further. They want the government to be empowered to remove works from public domain to grant ownership to them. A case under review by the Supreme Court could green light the wholesale destruction of public domain media.
The fact this case is even being heard demonstrates current IP law is severely flawed. Lets hope the court rules in favor of the constitutional law, which grants the government no such authority.
The judge’s anger at Stone burns clearly throughout his order, especially when he sums up the entire situation:
To summarize the staggering chutzpah involved in this case: Stone asked the Court to authorize sending subpoenas to the ISPs. The Court said “not yet.” Stone sent the subpoenas anyway. The Court appointed the Ad Litems [EFF and Public Citizen] to argue whether Stone could send the subpoenas. Stone argued that the Court should allow him to – even though he had already done so – and eventually dismissed the case ostensibly because the Court was taking too long to make a decision. All the while, Stone was receiving identifying information and communicating with some Does, likely about settlement. The Court rarely has encountered a more textbook example of conduct deserving of sanctions.
Judge Godbey fined Stone $10,000, which he hopes will be enough to “deter similar misconduct and adequately reflects the gravity of the circumstances.” In addition, Stone has to pay the attorney fees for EFF and Public Citizen, and must tell the court if he has settled with anyone in the Mick Haig case, and if so, for how much.
Do I hate lawyers? It depends. I know a few, and they are upstanding people. But the fact is, a lawyer whether licensed in the State or not has not leg for ignorance of the law for a defense. He/she spent 3-4 years learning the law. But when I hear that a lawyer either games the system or outright ignores it as this case indicates, the lawyer in question should be immediately disbarred. He can then go prove he is worthy of being brought back into the fold. Harsh? Yes. But I have seen two lawyers from my home town destroy the fiscal trusts of respected members of the community. There is no excuse.
Am I dreaming? Sure, lawyers protect their own. I applaud the judge in this instance legally wringing the guys neck. He should have made the fine $1m.
Righthaven chief executive Steve Gibson confirmed by telephone that his company has stopped filing new lawsuits, pending appellate rulings that could take months or even years to filter through the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
“It certainly seems to be prudent to see how all of these cases come out in the wash,” Gibson said, adding that he still reserves the right to file new lawsuits at any time.
Taken together, the setbacks suggest the business model employed by Righthaven has imploded on nearly every front — making it difficult to envision Righthaven copycats or a solid Righthaven future.
“The cases continue to show that their business model is not a viable business model,” said Kurt Opsahl, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has opposed Righthaven in court.
RightHaven’s claim is that ‘Is this really a fight over whether the blogosphere should be able to take people’s creative works and reproduce it?’, according to CEO Steve Gibson. Yes this was lifted from an article. So in a sense this post fulfills Gibson’s observation. Here is the oddity about claims like RightHaven. How far up the information chain do you go? Go beyond the newspaper, to the event(s). The fact that a reporter is on the scene does not the ultimate source of the story. That is reserved to the participants around the event. Say a reporter covers a public event, town council meeting. Paid for by the taxpayers as part of functioning government. Should the Las Vegas Review be permitted to profit off the event and declare it under copyright? How about an auto wreck on the freeway? Or the weather since they source most of it from taxpayer funded weather services?
We have fair use as a provision in law for a reason. Its a vehicle expected to be used to further the arts and sciences and inform the public. The Las Vegas Review has a right to their property which is the expression of the event, but not the event itself.
How about something more innovative than a law firm? How about a subscription service that is reasonable in price? A sliding scale starting at $20 and goes up based on the blog’s Google Analytics rating. It is delivered to the blog as a private RSS feed. Single use articles on a similar sliding scale starting at 50¢. Automated it would have garnered probably equal to what the net from the lawyers would be. A blog like Drudge, MichelleMalkin, etc could afford those kind of fee rates. The upshot is the standing of someone like the LA Review would have been stronger. They could point to the fact that there was an avenue to acquire the piece and the defendant decided to forego that option.
Hopefully with RightHaven’s demise the idea of legal troll as profit center will wane.
Apple has had an ongoing battle with Samsung over their Galaxy Tab being too much like the iPad. Well here is the most unusual angle. Samsung is throwing up a `prior art` defense against Apple from a most unlikely source — Hollywood.
Did you catch it? The items that looked like video screen IN the table? Well if you look closer that really is a pad like device with a flat panel screen and a few controls on the front. Another words, a black iPad.
Pretty thin gruel you say? Well I might tend to agree except for the fact that defenses for enforcement of patents has been thinner still in many cases. There is a chance that Samsung might prevail. If they do that opens up the iPad/tablet market by leaps and bounds. It would also deal Apple a mighty blow. This also raises an interesting question. If Samsung prevails what happens to many of the Motorola patents that Google bought? I suggest the reader refresh themselves with the old StarTrek series with any away team segment in it. Is that communicator a flip-phone Captain Kirk is holding? TOS was circa 1965, predating the first Motorola phone by nearly two decades. Its something to watch.
Bernice Keebler had a simple complaint: Verizon billed her $4.19 for six “local calls” but wouldn’t tell her where she’d called – not unless she got a lawyer and a subpoena.
To Keebler, that stretched the bounds of fair dealing beyond the breaking point. “I think I have the right to know what I am paying for,” she told me in a column about her case last month. Keebler likened the experience to getting a tab at a restaurant with a bottom line for “food,” but no details to review or question.
A Public Utility Commission judge agreed. In a decision released today by the PUC’s communications office, Administrative Law Judge Mary D. Long proposed fining Verizon Pennsylvania $1,000 for failing in its duty to provide “adequate customer service”:
It is a basic matter of fair business practice that a consumer should be able to contact a utility about a charge on a bill and learn what the charge is for and learn that the charge was correctly applied. The only verification that Verizon’s witness could offer that a charge like Mrs. Keebler’s $4.19 measured use charge was accurate and billed correctly was her faith in the accuracy of Verizon’s computer system. The only way that Verizon would offer any information about a past charge in response to a consumer inquiry was to require that customer to hire a lawyer and subpoena their own usage information. By no reasonable standard could this be considered reasonable customer service.
This is what I classify as corporate bullying of a customer. They don’t want to be bothered so they pull the `get a lawyer` schtick figuring the costs of legal counsil would be a deterrent to the inquiry.
This time VZ figured wrong.