Court rules that Righthaven must pay Hoehn’s legal fees

A few months ago the copyright advocacy company Righthaven voiced disapproval for its growing legal fees. Its lawyers had argued defendants were purposely “escalating the litigiousness” of the case, thus driving the cost to Righthaven through the roof. It’s fair to say those costs have now spilled out into the front yard.

Judge Philip M. Pro of Nevada’s District Court ordered on Tuesday that Righthaven LLC must pay Wayne Hoehn $34,045.50 by September 14th for incurred court fees.

Court rules that Righthaven must pay Hoehn's legal fees

Judge Pro’s two-page ruling (.pdf) granted Hoehn’s request for compensation:

Having read and considered Defendant Hoehn’s fully briefed Motion for Attorney’s Fees and Costs (Doc. #32) filed July 5, 2011, and good cause appearing, the Court finds Defendant’s Motion should be granted. Specifically, Rule 54(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permits the recovery of attorney’s fees and costs to a prevailing party. Additionally, the Court has discretion to award attorney’s fees and costs to Defendant Hoehn as a prevailing party under 17 U.S.C. § 505. In this case, the Court finds that Defendant Hoehn is the prevailing party and the attorney’s fees and costs sought on his behalf are reasonable and supported by Defendant’s Memorandum of Law and the Affidavit of J. Malcolm Devoy, Esq.

Hoehn, who was sued by the group for copyright infringement in January, won the legal battle when Judge Pro dismissed the claim two months ago. The case revolved around Hoehn’s reproduction of a copyrighted work – one Righthaven claimed it held the rights to. Pro disagreed, and declared Hoehn was protected by fair use.

“Righthaven has not presented any evidence of harm or negative impact from Hoehn’s use of the Work,” wrote Pro in his ruling. “Merely arguing that because Hoehn replicated the entirety of the Work the market for the Work was diminished is not sufficient to show harm.”

In addition, Pro questioned the group’s decision to file in the first place. “Righthaven does not possess an exclusive right in the Work and therefore does not have standing to bring a suit for infringement,” he declared.

Steve Gibson, Righthaven CEO, was less-than-thrilled with the court’s decision and pushed back against those who call his company a “copyright troll” in an interview with paidContent on Tuesday.

“Look, the blogosphere and the infringement community obviously is very, very vocal,” said Gibson. “That doesn’t make them right.” (via TechDirt)