Ninth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of Copyright Troll Lawsuit

On May 9, 2013, a pro bono team from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, along with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), secured a victory in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit when the court affirmed the District of Nevada's dismissal of a copyright infringement case filed by well-known copyright troll Righthaven LLC.

Righthaven's business consists of finding articles that appear on individual blogs, allegedly obtaining the copyright to those articles from newspapers, and then suing the blog owners for copyright infringement. The company has filed hundreds of these cases and extorted countless settlements.

In the case at issue, Righthaven sued Thomas DiBiase, a former federal prosecutor, for a post on his blog, which provides prosecutors with resources for difficult murder cases in which the victim is presumed dead but no body has been found. In June 2011, the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada dismissed Righthaven's case in its entirety, ruling that Righthaven lacked standing to sue for copyright infringement because the assignment purportedly granting it rights to the article at issue was a sham. Subsequently, the court awarded WSGR and EFF nearly $120,000 in attorney fees for their representation of Mr. DiBiase in the lawsuit-the largest fee award to date against Righthaven. The Ninth Circuit agreed that Righthaven lacked standing and affirmed the district court's dismissal of the case.

The WSGR pro bono team that represented Mr. DiBiase in the case consisted of partner Colleen Bal, associate Evan Stern, former associates Bart Volkmer and Caroline Wilson, and legal secretaries Debbie Grubbs and Kathie Ramos.

Click here to read the Ninth Circuit's opinion.