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August 30, 2014

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Judge grants Righthaven defendant more time for lawsuit response

A federal judge in Denver wasted no time Tuesday in granting Righthaven LLC copyright infringement lawsuit defendant Brian D. Hill an extra 20 days to beef up his answer to Righthaven's lawsuit.

Righthaven is the Las Vegas company that sues website operators and message-board posters over material from the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Denver Post that's allegedly been re-posted online without authorization.

Of its 239 lawsuits, the suit against Hill over a Denver Post TSA pat-down photo has been receiving scrutiny lately because Hill, 20, says he has disabilities and can't afford to fight Righthaven or pay its $6,000 settlement demand.

Before he was represented by an attorney, the North Carolina man responded to the lawsuit by sending a letter to the federal court in Denver.

Attorney David Kerr in Fort Collins, Colo., who now represents Hill on a volunteer basis, charged in court papers Monday that Hill's initial response was inadequate.

Hill, of course, is no attorney and Hill says he has autism, hyperactive attention disorder and diabetes.

"As the defendant’s letter explains, defendant Hill apparently has a mental disorder that may, among other aspects, impact his legal status," Kerr wrote in his filing.

Despite all that, Kerr complained Righthaven wouldn't agree to give Kerr more time to file a more thorough legal response.

Senior U.S. District Judge John L. Kane sided with Kerr on Tuesday, giving him until March 21 to file an amended answer to the lawsuit.

"Although plaintiff argues defendant has already answered and refuses to consent to the relief sought, I find that justice requires the requested opportunity to amend and re-file this pleading," Kane wrote in Tuesday's ruling.

Kerr, who specializes in copyright and other intellectual property law, is plenty familiar with defenses other defendants have used against Righthaven including fair use and implied license. He's been critical of the Denver Post for working with Righthaven.

If the lawsuit isn't settled, it wouldn't be surprising to see Kerr drag the Denver Post and its parent, MediaNews Group, into the case with a counterclaim.

Such counterclaims are pending in federal court in Las Vegas against the Review-Journal's parent company, Stephens Media LLC.

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