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The Courts

Righthaven Stops Showing Up In Court 122

Fluffeh writes "This story has gone from funny to sad. Following copyright-troll Righthaven's recent whipping by a judge, it now appears the company has just given up altogether. CEO Steve Gibson is working at another job (while being investigated by the Nevada Bar) and main lawyer Shawn Mangano apparently has completely stopped responding to all attempts to contact him, even by the court. All this has resulted in the key appeals in its cases to be dismissed 'for lack of prosecution.' Last Thursday it also had a key case closed, with prejudice, driving another nail in its already buried coffin."
The Courts

Righthaven Ordered To Forfeit Its Intellectual Property 62

New submitter BenJCarter writes with an update on Righthaven, the company that tried to make a business model out of copyright trolling. According to Wired, "[Righthaven] was dealt a death blow on Tuesday by a federal judge who ordered the Las Vegas company to forfeit 'all of' its intellectual property and other 'intangible property' to settle its debts. ... U.S. District Judge Philip M. Pro of Nevada ordered Righthaven to surrender for auction the 278 copyrighted news articles that were the subject of its lawsuits. ... Righthaven's first client, Stephens Media of Las Vegas and operator of the Review-Journal, invested $500,000 into the Righthaven operation at its outset. With Judge Pro's ruling (PDF), the media company is losing financial control of hundreds of articles and photos. 'The irony of this? Perhaps those who buy the copyrights could issue DMCA notices to the Review-Journal stopping them from redistributing them?' [opposing lawyer Marc Randazza] said via an e-mail, citing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act."
Crime

TSA Facing Death By a Thousand Cuts 493

OverTheGeicoE writes "The Transportation Security Administration is getting a lot of negative attention, much of it from the U.S. government itself. A recent congressional report blasted the TSA for being incompetent and ineffective (PDF). A bill to force the TSA to reduce its screening of active duty U.S. military members and their families was approved unanimously by the House of Representatives. After a TSA employee was arrested for sexually assaulting a woman while in uniform, a bill has been introduced to prevent TSA agents from wearing police-style uniforms and badges or using the title 'officer.' The bill's sponsor calls these practices 'an insult to real cops.' The FBI is getting involved by changing its definition of rape in a way that might expose the TSA's 'enhanced pat-down' screeners to prosecution. Lastly, public support for the TSA's use of X-ray body scanners drops dramatically when people realize there is a cancer risk."
The Courts

US Marshals Ordered To Seize Righthaven Property 120

An anonymous reader writes "Troubled times ahead for Righthaven, as Ars Technica reports that the U.S. Marshals have been instructed 'to use "reasonable force" to seize $63,720.80 in cash and/or assets from the Las Vegas copyright troll after Righthaven failed to pay a court judgment from August 15.'"
Microsoft

Microsoft Freeloading In Washington State Courts 395

reifman writes "For tax purposes, Microsoft reports that it's earned its estimated $143 billion in software licensing revenue in Nevada, where there is no licensing tax, as we discussed a few weeks ago. However, for legal purposes, Microsoft relies on Washington law and its underfunded courts to defend its contracts as it did in Microsoft Licensing GP vs. TSR Silicon. Application of common legal doctrines such as nexus, the step doctrine, and alter ego theory may lead to findings that Microsoft owes the state more than $1 billion in taxes, interest, and penalties."
Government

Court To Scammer, "Give Up Your House Or Go To Jail" 152

coondoggie writes "Too many online scammers get away with what amounts to a wrist-slap, but a case if Las Vegas this week seems to be heading the right direction. According to the Federal Trade Commission, a business opportunity scammer has been held in contempt for the second time by a federal court and ordered to turn over the title of his home in Las Vegas or face jail time. The court found that the operator of the scam, Richard Neiswonger, failed to deliver marketable title to his home, in violation of a previous court order entering a $3.2 million judgment against him, the FTC stated. The FTC charged that the defendant deceived consumers with false promises that they could make a six-figure income by selling his 'asset protection services' to those seeking to hide their assets from potential lawsuits or creditors."

Judge Invalidates Software Patent, Citing Bilski 252

bfwebster writes "US District Court Judge Andrew Gilford (Central District of California) granted a summary judgment motion in DealerTrack v. Huber et al., finding DealerTrack's patent (US 7,181,427) — for an automated credit application processing system — invalid due to the recent In re Bilski court decision that requires a patent to either involve 'transformation' or 'a specific machine.' According to Judge Gilford's ruling, DealerTrack 'appears to concede that the claims of the '427 Patent do not meet the "transformation" prong of the Bilski test.' He then applied the 'specific machine' test and noted that, post-Bilski the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences has ruled several times that 'claims reciting the use of general purpose processors or computers do not satisfy the [Bilski] test.' Judge Gilford analyzes the claims of the '427 patent, notes that they state that the 'machine' involved could be a 'dumb terminal' and a 'personal computer,' and then concludes: 'None of the claims of the '427 Patent require the use of a "particular machine," and the patent is thus invalid under Bilski.' DealerTrack apparently plans to appeal the ruling. Interesting times ahead."
The Courts

Supreme Court Declines Jack Thompson Appeal 100

eldavojohn writes "Jack Thompson was disbarred last year in Florida, putting a halt to annoying lawsuits targeting game makers and the constitutional rights of gamers. Well, he had appealed to the United States Supreme Court (scheduled to be heard last Friday) to get this overturned, but instead they declined to even hear his appeal. They wouldn't even give him the time to review his appeal, so it appears his disbarment for life stands. Florida had declined to file a response to Thompson's appeal, and it turns out they didn't need to. Sad day for Jack Thompson, but a great day for gamers everywhere." This comes shortly after Thompson was frustrated by the vetoing of some legislation he promoted in Utah.
The Almighty Buck

Surprisingly Few People Collect On GTA Hot Coffee 343

Relin writes "Out of the millions eligible, less than 3,000 have come forward to collect their money in the 'Hot Coffee' settlement. While the plaintiffs' lawyer is surprised by the development, Theodore Frank of the Legal Center for the Public Interest at the American Enterprise Institute seems convinced that the lawsuit was 'meritless' and will result in no payment for the legal counsel opposing Take-Two."
The Courts

RIAA Throws In Towel On "Making Available" Case 252

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The RIAA has thrown in the towel on one of the leading cases challenging its 'making available' theory, Warner v. Cassin, in which the defendant had moved to dismiss the RIAA's complaint. We have just learned that the RIAA submitted a voluntary notice of dismissal before the judge got to decide the defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint. It will be of interest to see if Ms. Cassin pursues a claim for attorneys' fees in view of recent court rulings that successful copyright defendants are presumptively entitled to an attorneys fee award, even if the dismissal came about from the plaintiffs' having 'thrown in the towel.'"
Patents

All 44 Blackboard Patent Claims Invalidated 130

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "The US Patent & Trademark Office has invalidated all 44 claims in Blackboard's patent. While this is a non-final action [PDF], which means that Blackboard will be able to appeal, it does represent a win for the Software Freedom Law Center which had requested the reexamination of Blackboard's patent. It is not yet known how this will affect the $3.1M judgment Blackboard won from Desire2Learn."
The Courts

Telephony Fraudster Gets Lifetime Ban from Telecom Business 116

coondoggie passed us another NetworkWorld link, this one discussing the banning of a shady telecom tycoon convicted for 'cramming'. "The owner of three companies that billed more than $30 million in bogus collect call charges, an activity known as cramming, to millions of consumers throughout the country, has been banned forever from all billing on local telephone bills. Willoughby Farr agreed to the lifetime ban as part of a federal court order settling Federal Trade Commission charges that he directed a massive unauthorized billing scam for more than two and a half years. The settlement contains a monetary judgment of $34,547,140, which will be partially satisfied by Farr's transfer to the Commission of all but $7,500 of his frozen assets, the FTC said."
The Courts

Judge Rejects RIAA 'Making Available' Theory 353

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "A federal judge in Connecticut has rejected the RIAA's 'making available' theory, which is the basis of all of the RIAA's peer to peer file sharing cases. In Atlantic v. Brennan, in a 9-page opinion [PDF], Judge Janet Bond Arterton held that the RIAA needs to prove 'actual distribution of copies', and cannot rely — as it was permitted to do in Capitol v. Thomas — upon the mere fact that there are song files on the defendant's computer and that they were 'available'. This is the same issue that has been the subject of extensive briefing in two contested cases in New York, Elektra v. Barker and Warner v. Cassin. Judge Arterton also held that the defendant had other possible defenses, such as the unconstitutionality of the RIAA's damages theory and possible copyright misuse flowing from the record companies' anticompetitive behavior."
Music

Class Action Suit Against RIAA Can Proceed 133

fourohfour writes "Ars Technica is running a story on Tanya Andersen, who was awarded attorney fees in September of last year after the RIAA dropped their case against her. The RIAA subsequently appealed that award, but a US District Court judge yesterday not only upheld the award, but also upheld the dismissal of her counterclaims without prejudice. They may now be heard as part of a malicious prosecution lawsuit against the RIAA. Andersen is seeking class action status for her lawsuit, so that anyone else who has not engaged in illegal file sharing but has been threatened with legal action by the RIAA may join in. This is the case that alleges that the RIAA attempted to contact Andersen's then eight-year-old daughter under false pretenses without her permission."
Businesses

Users Trash Wal-Mart On Its Facebook Site 594

hhavensteincw writes "Only two weeks after Wal-Mart launched its latest foray into Web 2.0 land, Facebook users have hijacked a page aimed at selling back-to-school supplies to college kids to instead post rants about the company's labor practices. Of the 100-plus comments, none relates to dorm decorating as Wal-Mart had originally envisioned."

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