Los Angeles – A federal judge has dismissed copyright infringement claims filed by Righthaven — a firm launched to help publishers protect their copyrights online — against a website called Democratic Underground, saying that Righthaven’s contract with a publisher did not empower it to file a copyright infringement lawsuit on the publisher’s behalf, PaidContent reported.

Righthaven was hired by Stephens Media, owner of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, to file lawsuits against blogs and other sites that they saw have illegally excerpted or re-published elements of the paper’s content.

U.S. District Judge Roger Hunt said that copyright law does not allow Stephens Media to transfer only the right to sue potential infringers to Righthaven, while keeping all the other privileges of the copyright.

Judge Hunt also found that Righthaven violated Nevada state law by failing to disclose that Stephens Media is receiving a 50% cut of any copyright infringement damages or settlement awards obtained by Righthaven.

“Today’s decision shows that Righthaven’s copyright litigation business model is fatally flawed, and we expect the decision to have wide effect on the over 270 other cases Righthaven has brought,” said Kurt Opsahl, an attorney with digital civil liberties group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).


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