You can stick a fork in Righthaven. It’s pretty much done. The domain name is being sold off, one of the defendants the company sued is asking a court to hold them in contempt (since they have this annoying habit of not showing up for hearings when things go against them), and now Righthaven’s process server—the company that took care of delivering its lawsuit notifications to those people Righthaven sued—is itself suing Righthaven for welshing on $5,670 in fees it ran up during 2010.
I have to admit, Righthaven has been very entertaining these last few months. It doesn’t seem as if it can keep this level of entertainment up for much longer—though I am looking forward to hearing about the US Marshals dragging Righthaven’s officers into court in handcuffs. It’s got to happen sooner or later, right?
Regardless, I do think the Righthaven case has been an important milestone in the way that the courts interact with electronic media. I’m no lawyer, of course, and I don’t think we can say that it’s set any solid legal precedents yet—that sort of thing usually has to wait for appeals. But it has shown that courts are willing to say that even wholesale copying of news articles can be considered fair use in certain situations, and that the publishing industry cannot base its business model around using the courts as a money machine. These points could become more and more important as media becomes more and more digital.