Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tuff-N-Uff and Righthaven LLC Settle Their Copyright Dispute

Following up on my posts, Tuff-N-Uff Productions Sued for Copyright Infringement and More on Tuff-N-Off Litigation and Bloggers Beware, yesterday, Tuff-N-Uff and Righthaven engaged in settlement discussions and resolved their dispute.

As set forth in my earlier post, the dispute involved the alleged publication of a Las Vegas Review Journal article on the Tuff-N-Uff website:
Tuff-N-Uff Productions, Inc. and its President, Secretary, Treasurer and Director, Barry Meyer, have been sued for copyright infringement by Righthaven, LLC over a March 2, 2010 article appearing in the Las Vegas Review-Journal concerning a Tuff-N-Uff fight that Tuff-N-Uff then, allegedly, posted on its website.
As set forth in my "Bloggers Beware" post and in this article in the Las Vegas Sun, "Some targets of Righthaven lawsuits fighting back," this action for infringement by Righthaven was not its first or its last:

Righthaven’s procedure has been to 'troll' or find an infringement of an R-J copyright to a specific story. It then buys the copyright for that story from the R-J’s owner, Stephens Media LLC, and then sues the infringer — all the while continuing to troll for additional violations.
On June 25, 2010, the Clerk of the Court entered a default judgment against Meyer and Tuff-N-Uff for failing to respond to the complaint.  One day before the Clerk entered the default judgment, Meyer and Tuff-N-Uff moved to dismiss the complaint arguing, essentially, that Righthaven lacked standing to pursue its claim for infringement because it failed to demonstrate ownership over the copyright in the article in question when Tuff-N-Uff allegedly re-posted the article to the Tuff-N-Uff website. 

Basically, because Tuff-N-Uff allegedly re-posted the article before Righthaven had been assigned the rights to the copyright in the article, Tuff-N-Uff was arguing that Righthaven "fails to show ownership of a valid copyright at the time of infringement [and] lacks standing to sue for any infringement that occurred prior to assignment of the copyright." 

According to the Las Vegas Sun article referenced above, this argument is has apparently been made in more than one case:  "[s]ome of the defendants are arguing that Righthaven lacks standing to sue them because Righthaven didn’t own the copyrights at the time of the initial infringement."

Well, in opposition to the motion Righthaven argued that it had an assignment that included any claims that the LVRJ would have had for infringement prior to the assignment.  Therefore, it argued it had standing to assert an infringement claim that predated the assignment.  Assuming the assignment existed and said what Righthaven claimed (it was supposed to be attached to the opposition, but I did not see it), Righthaven's argument was undoubtedly correct.

After the default judgment was entered, Meyer and Tuff-N-Uff also objected to the default judgment.

As set forth on the docket, after hearing argument on the motion to dismiss and the objection to the default judgment, the Court denied defendants' motion to dismiss and set aside the default judgment.

After he ruled, according to the docket:
After a brief recess by the parties to engage in settlement negotiations, Mr. Gibson advises the Court the parties have reached a settlement. The parties are instructed to file the Stipulation for Dismissal by 9/7/2010. In light of the settlement reached by the parties, IT IS FURTHER ORDERED the Defendant's Motion for Rule 16 Pretrial Conference is DENIED as moot.
As set forth in this article, Second Newspaper Chain Joins Copyright Trolling Operation, (hat tip, these lawsuits by Righthaven now number over 100 and continue to be filed against a variety of blogs and websites and usually settle for a few thousand dollars.  Presumably, this settled for an amount in the same neighborhood.

Again, bloggers and websites beware!

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