Patent Troll Lays Claim To Podcasts; Demands Payment

Not even a year into its life, the Super Podcast Action Committee may be coming to a bitter end. Unbeknownst to its co-hosts or producer, it was violating a patent with every episode recorded and published for your listening pleasure. With the potential licensing fees and damages needed to be paid, it would kill the Super PAC over night.

That is, if Personal Audio has its way in court. Personal Audio is the holder of a patent, 8,112,504, which it claims grants it complete ownership of the podcast format. Yes, until Personal Audio created its patent no one thought of using the internet to stream or otherwise distribute episodic recordings of news, commentary, reviews or anything else people use podcasts for.

While Personal Audio has not quite set its sights on the Super PAC, it has begun its legal battle with several popular podcasts. Its current targets include Adam Carolla's "ACE Broadcasting," HowStuffWorks and Togi Entertainment.

The primary claim in contention here is Claim 31 of the patent which reads:

Apparatus for disseminating a series of episodes represented by media files via the Internet as said episodes become available

It goes on to describe an "apparatus" that basically boils down to anything connected to something else to allow transfer of the podcast. That means, your computer connected to the host server over the internet qualifies and any podcast using that "apparatus" violates this patent.

While patent trolling is nothing new, it is frustrating that the US patent system still allows for these kinds of actions. What is equally frustrating is that Personal Audio operates out of an empty office in East Texas in order to take advantage of the patent friendly courts in that region, a common patent troll tactic.

Luckily for the Super PAC and many others, the EFF is looking to help any podcasts who have been sent demand letters over this patent.

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  1. 0
    Eric J Weibel says:

    We are creating a patent insurance solution to the problem of weak patent assertions. It only works for a subset of situations out there, but it is a big step. From the standpoint of the patent ecosystem, it has advantages over defensive patent aggregation. Defensive patent aggregation by definition increases the demand for patents. At least in so far as weak software patents are conscerned, that is a negative for innovation and our economy. The insurance does not increase demand for patents. In fact, it can act to decrease earnings from weak patent assertion campaigns. See Patent Insurance a Defense Against Patent Trolls


  2. 0
    hellfire7885 says:

    SO, reading the patent dates, why did this troll wait a decade? Did they want established listeners so they could piss off as many people as possible?

  3. 0
    Neeneko says:

    Keep in mind that they can collect fees on content that is freely distributed.  

    It is an odd charter in that the Library of Congress sets the fee, not the content producer.  So if you create and distribute music yourself, SoundExchange can demand the fee from the distributor (even if it is the same person) and then the producer has to file a request for their fee back, at which point they get cash minus SoundExchange's cut.

    That is why they are worth keeping an eye on.  They have been a big issue for internet radio stations but if they felt like being troublesome they could, potentially, try to extend their reach to podcast type programs.


  4. 0
    E. Zachary Knight says:

    Since SoundExchange is mostly a royalty and license fee collection organization, their presence in the podcast scene would be minimal. They might try to pop in at some point to make sure that those fees and royalties are being paid, but since most of the big podcast players either contract out their music or buy the license before hand, there would be little to gain.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  5. 0
    Neeneko says:

    While I was originally going to say 'and these are related how?', there is actually a connection of note.  The DoD has an exemption where it can appropriate patented material and hand it to their contractors, so the patent mess does not impact the military OR companies that work for them.

    Which to me speaks to the government knowing the system is broken, but instead of fixing it, writing themselves an exemption and handing it to their buddies.. kinda like how financial institutions got an exemption in the latest round of 'reforms' that was not granted to other industries.

    So military industrial complex and finance are not hurt by patents.  Biomedical lives and breaths by them, the farm lobby is dominated by a few bit players who use them to crush smaller farmers, Hollywood doesn't care… so everyone who actually matters is not effected.

  6. 0
    silversnowfox says:

    Around one trillion dollars a year spent on missiles, bombs, guns, ammo, gas, body armor, vehicle repair, and the salaries of troops…. and our government still allows for vague patents of possible things, that may exist, in some way, somehow….

    Nothing is broken here citizen.  Move along.

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