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Righthaven LLC., a law firm that became known as a “copyright troll” for filing hundreds of lawsuits against media companies and bloggers, was forever banished from its business model on Tuesday by a judge who ordered a transfer of all their copyrights to settle the company’s substantial debts.
After a series of stinging legal defeats last year, Righthaven found itself owing defendants more than $200,000 for their frivolous lawsuits. That was quite enough for U.S. District Judge Philip M. Pro, who ordered the company on Tuesday to forfeit all its intellectual property, which will be sold at auction.
For about a year Righthaven’s business model was a success: they would find a news website or blog that had republished snippets of a copyrighted news story that they had purchased rights to or represented, then file a lawsuit threatening up to $150,000 in penalties for every alleged infringement. Because the punitive damages are so hefty, most early defendants settled for much smaller sums, usually several thousand dollars.