In a major decision, Righthaven and their "client" Stephens Media have lost another copyright case, but this time, it was on 'fair use' grounds.
Stephens Media, via Righthaven, sued progressive website Democratic Underground (DU) for copyright infringement stemming from a five-sentence excerpt from a Las Vegas Review Journal article, posted to DU's forum by a forum member.
Righthaven demanded that DU pay a settlement fee to settle the case out of court, but settling was not on DU's agenda, and teaming up with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, law firm of Fenwick & West, and attorney Chad Bowers counter-sued.
DU claimed 'fair use' rights, and Stephens Media has just pleaded 'no mas', which is just another way of saying they did not want to contest DU's claims. "Stephens Media does not contest the substantive arguments presented by [Democratic Underground] on the issues of volitional act and fair use as applied to the material facts of this case," wrote Stephens Media in court filings.
The court also found issues with the relationship between Stephens Media and Righthaven. While Stephens Media is a major investor in Righthaven, the court found that Righthaven did not have the proper authorization to sue on behalf of Stephens Media.
But the victory based on the 'fair use' doctrine is significant in that it will help to prevent other "copyright trolls" to sue for profit.
The law firm Fenwick & West felt this was an important victory. "This is a hard fought and important victory for free speech rights on the Internet," said Laurence Pulgram, a partner at Fenwick & West.