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November 22, 2014

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Roundup: Righthaven no longer in ‘default,’ defendants dropped from suit

Las Vegas copyright enforcement company Righthaven LLC and its co-owner, Net Sortie Systems LLC, are no longer listed as in "default" by the Nevada Secretary of State business licensing system. They're now "active" after their renewal information was submitted and then posted by the Secretary of State's office on Tuesday.

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Court records show more Righthaven copyright infringement lawsuits have been settled or otherwise closed. The latest cases closed by federal courts in Nevada and Colorado involved defendants Donald K. Schultz, Eric Calouro and his Erictric Media Group, Jan Klerks, CrimeNews2000 and Bear Den Holdings Inc.

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Also, Linda Muller and Nathan Muller of Smetheport, Pa., were dropped from a Righthaven lawsuit over the website wehategringos.com

The Mullers issued a press release complaining Righthaven had sued them even though they had sold the website more than a year before a Las Vegas Review-Journal story allegedly was posted there without authorization.

"Even though we no longer owned the website, the long drawn-out process of clearing the matter caused us considerable emotional distress," Linda Muller said. "This hung over our heads for six months, causing us to divert considerable time and energy from our businesses. That our names will be tagged forever on the Internet as law breakers is especially tough to deal with. It doesn’t matter that this happens only occasionally; it matters that it should happen at all."

"This is our first encounter with the conveyor-belt approach to litigation, which relies on cut-and-paste boilerplate dumped into a judicial hopper," said Nathan Muller.

"Righthaven seems to rely on the deliberate infliction of severe emotional distress as a tool to clobber hapless individuals into settling their cases prematurely. It follows that Righthaven had to know there was a high probability that its conduct would cause us severe emotional distress as well," their press release said.

Righthaven, however, said in a court motion that it sued the Mullers based on information from the domain name registrant, GoDaddy.com, that the Mullers were the registrants of the site.

"Based upon the Mullers' responsive pleading and further research into the matter, Righthaven believes that the Mullers are not the proper defendants or infringer of the work (story)," Righthaven said in a court filing, adding it now intends to sue an individual identified as Brad Hill, whom Righthaven believes owns the website. Hill has not yet responded to those allegations.

This isn't the first time a defendant has been dropped from a Righthaven case under these circumstances.

Laurene Stewart was dropped from the CrimeNews2000 case last year after saying she had sold that website in January 2009, well before Righthaven started its litigation campaign over alleged infringements involving material from the Review-Journal and the Denver Post.

"I had no involvement in the alleged copyright infringement which gives rise to the complaint in this matter," Stewart wrote in a court filing. Righthaven didn't contest her motion that she be dismissed from the case.

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