Righthaven LLC -- a bottom feeding legal outfit -- has teamed up with the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Denver Post to sue mom and pop websites, advocacy and public interest groups and forum board operators for copyright infringement. The strategy of Righthaven is to sue thousands of these website owners, who are primarily unfunded and will be forced to settle out of court.
Righthaven lawsuitsTo date Righthaven has been ordered to pay $323,138 in legal fees and sanctions.Righthaven lawsuits

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Righthaven vs Brian Hill Dismissal Petition

I just finished reading the entire 52 page affidavit from Attorney David Kerr who is representing Brian Hill of North Carolina. He is a 20 year old mildly autistic man who is currently being sued by Righthaven for posting the TSA image that originally appeared in the Denver Post. Righthaven is seeking $150,000 from Brian along with his domain name http://uswgo.com which is a non-profit alternative news site. His site was shut down when he first heard of the lawsuit against him.

Here is a link to Mr. Hill's entire dismissal petition by Atty. David Kerr.

As David Kerr eloquently points out in his riveting law brief shows the absolute cruelty that Righthaven is subjecting Brian Hill to by continuing this lawsuit.
The present case is even more problematic. Mr. Hill is a 20 year old mentally and physically disabled young man who has been unwittingly swept up in this unforgiving “business model.” Mr. Hill is a resident of North Carolina, was the registrant domain name holder of the not-for-profit website www.uswgo.com Mr. Hill suffers from autism, as well as a rare and severe form of diabetes known as brittle type-1 diabetes, Attention Deficit Disorder and hyperactivity. These severe medical conditions require around the clock attention which is provided by his Mother Roberta Hill. Due to these medical conditions, Mr. Hill cannot work, and will likely not be able to work for the rest of his life. In particular, Mr. Hill’s blood sugar must be monitored around the clock
Righthaven was made aware of Brian Hill's health problems and his financial situation when they first contacted Brian and told him they would settle for $6000 dollars, which would almost be his entire years income from a Social Security Disability Check that is his and his mother's only source of income. According to Mrs. Hill, Righthaven was cold as ice when they explained this to them. Righthaven made their demands knowing full well they cannot, by law, collect from a Social Securty Disability check.

Mr. Kerr's petition to dismiss mainly covers the inappropriateness of holding the lawsuit in a Colorado Federal Court and request the case either be moved to North Carolina or outright dismissed. The dismissal petition sites several grounds including the fact that neither Righthaven nor Brian Hill reside in Colorado, nor has Brian had any dealings with anyone in Colorado. Since The Denver Post is not a party to this lawsuit then no alleged "infringement" could possibly have occurred in Colorado.

Rightaven claims, without proof, that Brian knowingly took the photo from the Denver Post when in fact Brian Hill first found this photo from a parody site called 'deadseriousnews.com' that to this day still has the TSA image and has not been sued by Righthaven even though they are the source of many Righthaven victims.
The supported facts of the case are as follows: Mr. Hill’s first contact with the photo in question came when he accessed through the internet, what he reasonably believed to be a California based humor and parody website, www.deadseriousnews.com. Mr. Hill, being politically opposed to what he views as intrusive physical inspections conducted by employees for the Transportation Security Administration.
The story along side the image in deadseriousnews leads the reader to believe the photo was taken in San Fransisco and the site does not attribute the photo leaving no indication this was a copyrighted photo from the Denver Post.

One revelation in Brian Hill's affidavit shows that Righthaven may not even have standing in this case and that Brian Hill's site was shutdown before Righthaven even "acquired" the copyright and registered it with the US Copyright office.
Righthaven alleges that Mr. Hill infringed upon its copyright. While Righthaven specifically claims ownership of the photo in question, it however fails to plead the relevant dates of its ownership interests, or the transfer of any accrued rights. prove such infringement, Righthaven must allege that it is the owner of a valid copyright as well as any accrued actions of infringement. Righthaven alleges that Mr. Hill first displayed a copy of this photo on his website on, or about December 1, 2010. Righthaven also admits that the United States Copyright Office only granted the registration on December 8, 2010. However, Mr. Hill’s website was suspended for excessive resource usage on December 7th, 2010, one day before the grant of registration.
The affidavit also demands that Righthaven be made to pay legal fees because they filed the suit with "unclean hands" and are are engaged in "potentially champertous and barratrous relationship with Media News Group"
This Court is presented with a most curious and problematic case. Plaintiff, Righthaven LLC, (“Righthaven”) appears to be what is often referred to as a “copyright troll.” Righthaven is believed to be acting as a proxy plaintiff for reluctant media corporations. On information and belief, Righthaven might even be in a potentially champertous and barratrous relationship with Media News Group, Inc., the parent corporation of the Denver Post, Corp., to serve as a proxy
Plaintiff against Defendant Brian D. Hill, (“Mr. Hill”) - as well as hundreds of other similarly situated persons across the country.
Righthaven has yet to respond to the charges leveled against them in this dismissal petition. It is clear they will have a hard time refuting many if not all of the carefully thought out and maticulously sited court precedences that are contained within this legal document.

The arguments can help other Righthaven victims as well. If Righthaven loses this case it will put their entire operation in jeopardy which has already suffered two devastating court losses over fair use that if upheld will effect every newspaper in the country.

Righthaven surely cannot go on much longer with so many counter claims and court losses. As well as the PR problems and embarrassment their client papers our receiving over cases like Brian Hill's. Only if their backers are willing to lose millions of dollars and risk setting more unfavorable court precedents can Righthaven continue on. Righthaven is a failed experiment by Stephens Media. They should acknowledge this failure by pulling the plug on Righthaven before the courts do it for them.

Denver Post should not be held blameless for this. They sold an image they knew had gone viral for the express purpose of not stopping infringments put to profit from it.

To contact the Denver Post to let them know how you feel about Righthaven and their unholy alliance:

Kevin Dale
News Director
101 W. Colfax, Suite 600
Denver, Co. 80202
O - 303.954.1213
F - 303.954.1090

See: Related Las Vegas Sun article

To send a message to all papers associated with Righthaven feel free to put this image on your blogs and sites to send a message that we will not send traffic their way if they continue to sue bloggers who are exercising their fair use rights. I created this image myself and you have my full permission to use it.

Delink Righthaven, Brian Hill, Righthaven, David Kerr, Copyright Troll, Righthavenvictims.com, Righthaven victims


  1. My prayers are with Brian Hill and all of the other victims of Righthaven.

  2. This is a great article!! Never did I think we would face something like this on the Internet. The Internet has been a great place for all of us to speak and share with each other. We learn a lot here. Now all of a sudden we find ourselves victims of free speech on the Internet. An attorney's & newspapers way to try to make money using legal extortion.

  3. Is there any way to go on the offensive? Find a state to pass a law against 'lawsuit terrorism'? It seems to me, that given their tenuous (and sometimes ex post facto) connection with the allegedly damaged parties, that this has to constitute some sort of criminal activity somewhere. At the very least, is anyone watching for statistical anomalies in who they sue, which might open them up to civil rights charges?

  4. Anonymous

    I'm afraid all of this is under Federal Law so States are limited. The best thing is to call your Congressman and demand copyright reform to make it more difficult for these trolls to operate.


Comments that persecute Righthaven victims will be deleted.