After filing more than 275 copyright infringement lawsuits, it now turns out that Righthaven was not the owner of the copyrights asserted in the lawsuit, and as a result is now on the verge of bankruptcy. The copyright infringement claims were made for reposting pictures and stories previously published by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, owned by Stephens Media. A Nevada federal judge recently unsealed an internal agreement between Righthaven and Stephen Media which disclosed the lack of Righthaven’s ownership. According to Kurt Opshal of the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
Righthaven does not own the rights to reproduce, distribute, display or prepare derivative works of the articles it is suing over, even though it makes those claims in its lawsuits...Copyright law does not permit a person to sue for infringement unless that person owns “the rights to reproduce and distribute the work.
Apparently Righthaven was trying to pattern its business after patent trolls, but since Righthaven does not have an ownership claim made in the lawsuit that model failed.
This is an interesting evolution of Internet copyright infringement claims.