Judge Orders Righthaven to Transfer All Copyright Registrations

It’s like a scene from the Wizard of Oz: Righthaven is almost dead as a corporate entity.

Yesterday U.S. District Judge Philip Pro ordered “the transfer of all of Righthaven’s intellectual property and intangible property” — including 278 registered works filed with the U.S. Copyright Office — to court-appointed receiver Lara Pearson tasked with breaking up Righthaven’s assets (read it below).

The order stemmed from an earlier judgment against Righthaven’s for $34,000+ in attorneys fees owed to Wayne Hoehn, a Vietnam vet who successfully got Righthaven’s copyright lawsuit against him dismissed.

Until last year, the Righthaven litigation machine shook down consumers for unfounded copyright violations to intellectual property. But Righthaven defendants had an epiphany moment.

It happened when Judge Pro held that Righthaven actually didn’t have any legal rights to sue Hoehn. Righthaven’s lawsuit alleged that Hoehn’s re-posting of a Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper editorial on a public website constituted copyright infringement. The court granted Hoehn’s motions to dismiss Righthaven’s copyright case, ruling that since “Righthaven does not have any exclusive rights in the [claimed copyrighted] Work [it] does not have standing to bring an infringement action.”

The court’s landmark ruling led the way to stopping Righthaven’s lawsuits around the country, and jeopardizing purported settlements with other defendants.

After Righthaven’s unsuccessful appeals to the Ninth Circuit, Judge Pro, appointed Pearson as a receiver to seize and sell “the copyrights assigned to Righthaven by various entities, as well as its trademarks and other intangible property, so that they could be sold at auction” to satisfy Hoehn’s judgment.

Righthaven’s website domain was sold for $3,000, but Hoehn’s judgment against it remains unsatisfied. Hence, the latest order directing the transfer of Righthaven’s copyright registrations.

You can read Judge Pro’s order directing Righthaven to transfer and assign the 278 copyrights it has on file with the U.S. Copyright Office here:

Order Transferring Intellectual Property to Receiver Lara Pearson (Righthaven, LLC v. Wayne Hoehn

If Righthaven filed for bankruptcy, however that would complicate issues for defendants seeking to recover any attorneys fees and judgments for damages against it.

You can relive the Wizard of Oz celebration of the Wicked Witch’s death here:

Photo credit: D. Silliman