The step-by-step demise of Righthaven LLC continued Thursday when two of its own appeals were dismissed because of Righthaven’s failure to prosecute them.
After filing 275 no-warning lawsuits alleging copyright infringement during the past two years involving material from those papers, Righthaven appears to have collapsed after missing hearings and key deadlines to file court briefs and after a judge stripped it of any interests in the copyrights it sues over.
The apparent collapse of the company follows a series of legal defeats in which eight judges found Righthaven lacked standing to sue over the newspapers’ material or that defendants were protected by fair use.
Several defendants, after defeating Righthaven in court, won court orders requiring Righthaven to pay their legal fees.
Righthaven lately has said it can’t or won’t pay the defendants’ legal fees, which now total $186,680. Righthaven’s failure to pay the legal fees is what triggered the appointment of a receiver to seize and auction Righthaven’s assets, including any interests it has in the copyrights it obtained for lawsuit purposes.
In one of the latest setbacks for Righthaven, a clerk at the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Thursday dismissed Righthaven’s appeal of a key ruling in Righthaven’s lawsuit in the Democratic Underground case in Las Vegas.
Las Vegas attorney Shawn Mangano and Dale Cendali, a superstar copyright attorney with the law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP in New York, on Sept. 16 appealed a decision by U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt in Las Vegas.
Hunt, after ruling Righthaven lacked standing to sue the Democratic Underground, last summer removed Righthaven as a party in its own lawsuit.
The order Mangano and Cendali planned to appeal was Hunt’s order denying Righthaven’s motion to then intervene in the lawsuit, which was still open because of a Democratic Underground counterclaim against Review-Journal owner Stephens Media LLC.
In its unsuccessful effort to intervene in the suit, Righthaven claimed that under its twice-amended lawsuit contract with Stephens Media, it was the sole owner of the copyright at issue in the Democratic Underground case.
Because of its claimed copyright ownership position, Righthaven should have been allowed back in the case to represent its interests, Righthaven argued.
Hunt rejected those arguments, writing in a ruling that he was "dubious as to whether Righthaven can essentially create standing in the middle of a case so as to either prosecute the case independently or intervene."
After filing a notice of appeal with the Ninth Circuit, Righthaven missed a Dec. 27 deadline to file its opening brief. Even after winning a two-week extension on Dec. 27, Righthaven still failed to file the brief, causing the court clerk to close the case Thursday.
Similarly, in Denver, the clerk’s office at the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed Righthaven’s lone appeal there on Thursday for non-prosecution.
Righthaven, this time represented only by Mangano, had appealed a ruling finding it lacked standing to sue over alleged infringements involving a Denver Post photo.
As in its Review-Journal cases, the suit at issue in the 10th Circuit had been dismissed by Senior U.S. District Court Judge John L. Kane because the Post maintained control of the material Righthaven was suing over.
Righthaven’s opening brief in the 10th Circuit was due Feb. 22. Even after receiving two extensions, giving it until Wednesday to file the brief, the brief was not filed and the case was closed Thursday.
The Righthaven suit at issue was against Leland Wolf and the It Makes Sense Blog.
Neither Mangano nor Cendali now appear to be actively representing Righthaven.
Righthaven’s next deadlines are set for Friday and Tuesday in a case in which attorneys are asking a U.S. magistrate judge in Las Vegas to find Righthaven in contempt of court for failing to turn over required financial information.
The attorneys are seeking the financial information to determine whether Righthaven can pay any of the $119,488 it owes to defendant Thomas DiBiase, who defeated Righthaven in court.
This is the case where the attorneys representing DiBiase at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco hope the court will find Righthaven CEO and Las Vegas attorney Steven Gibson liable for any sanctions against the company.
Gibson hasn’t commented on Righthaven’s recent legal setbacks.