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Righthaven on the small screen

By J. DeVoy

I recently caught up with a college friend who does not work in law, who asked me about Righthaven since he had read several articles linked on this blog and on my facebook account.  I explained the status of the approximately 18-month litigation campaign.  After a few moments of confused silence, he told me it would be much easier to understand as a documentary or made-for-television movie.

So what format would make the Righthaven story comprehensible?


Pros: Designed to present information, and people engage one with a longer attention span.  Documentaries have been used to tackle complicated factual and legal issues, such the Enron scandal and more recent economic collapse.  If a former (or “recovering”) lawyer like Michael Whiteacre approached the project, the material would translate well.

Cons: Documentaries are always accused of having an agenda, even when made as fairly as possible.  Dig! made the Brian Jonestown Massacre look like a band of aimless drug addicts, despite being vastly more creative than the Dandy Warhols.  Before The Light Takes Us underplayed Satyricon’s role in black metal and probably made Count Grischnackh out to be more philosophical than he was in the early 1990’s.  American Psycho made people working in finance look like insensitive jerks.  These were not intentional motives of the directors, but natural consequences of editing the film available to make the movie.

Made-for-TV Movie

Pros: Large budget, and will reach many people.  Can be spread out over several nights.  Everyone wins when the network tries to buy rights to their likeness to avoid even possibly getting sued.

Cons: Will be made accessible to many people, which requires things like dumbing down the facts and law until neither are comprehensible.  Will fall prey to the ratings trap and depict IP lawyers as 6’3″ alpha bros with square jaws and biceps capable of curling 250 lbs.  Viewers would ask “which one was Casey Anthony?”

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