Tactics suggest overreaching on more than just copyright grounds.
News broke over the Labor Day weekend that Righthaven, that enterprise set up to file copyright lawsuits over alleged infringements of articles from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, sued Nevada senate candidate Sharron Angle. The complaint [PDF] contains two claims for copyright infringement over allegations that Angle posted two articles on her website without authorization.
Let’s set aside for a moment any objections or snickering we might have about Righthaven’s approach, or any disdain we may feel about spamigation in general. There’s one paragraph in the Angle complaint which demonstrates a plaintiff mindset that is over the top on just about any reasonable scale.
In addition to the ususal demands for copyright infringement relief in the complaint (e.g., statutory damages, costs, attorney’s fees, injunction, etc.), Righthaven asks that the court:
[d]irect the current domain name registrar, Namesecure, and any successor domain name registrar for the Domain to lock the Domain and transfer control of the Domain to Righthaven.
This is a copyright lawsuit, not one for trademark infringement or cybersquatting. Nothing in the Copyright Act provides the transfer of a domain name as a remedy. Such an order would be tantamount to handing the whole website over to Righthaven just because there may have been a couple of infringing items.
The Copyright Act does provide for the impounding and disposition of infringing articles (See 17 USC 503). So it’s plausible that a court would award the deletion of the actual alleged infringing articles. Or if it wanted to be weirdly and anachronistically quaint about it, could order that the infringing files on the server be removed and somehow destroyed in a way additional to just being deleted. In any event, there’s no basis for a court to order the transfer of a domain name as a result of copyright infringement.
I’ll let you, the reader, decide what you will about Righthaven. But if you decide that their tactics are silly, and in some cases uncalled-for, you won’t be alone.
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