Patenting Podcasts: Personal Audio vs. Electronic Frontier Foundation
Recently, Lawyer2Lawyer interviewed the parties in the podcast patent dispute–Personal Audio and Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Here is a description of the episode:
Personal Audio’s founder Jim Logan created and patented an idea which, in his eyes, covers the concept of podcasting. “This is the story of the American inventor,” Richard Baker, Personal Audio’s vice president of licensing, says. Personal Audio has filed lawsuits against several podcasters and media companies, claiming patent infringement by popular programs such as NBC’s The Adam Carolla Showand by CBS for its podcast distribution of multiple shows including The Voice and Meet the Press. On the other side, The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has spearheaded a campaign dubbed “Save Podcasting!” to rescind Personal Audio’s patent. EFF’s goal is to revoke Personal Audio’s right to compensation from any podcast program. Daniel Nazer, a staff attorney working on the campaign, represents EFF on the program.
On this edition of Lawyer2Lawyer Bob Ambrogi
and J. Craig Williams
talk with Richard Baker and Brad Liddle, Personal Audio’s president of licensing, and Daniel Nazer of EFF to hear their thoughts on what defines a patent troll, the specifics behind the cases, and more.
More on Patent Trolls
Last weekend, This American Life aired an updated version of a story they ran two years ago, titled “When Patents Attack.” Here is a description of “When Patents Attack…Part Two!”:
Two years ago, we did a program about a mysterious business in Texas that threatens companies with lawsuits for violating its patents. But the world of patent lawsuits is so secretive, there were basic questions we could not answer. Now we can. And we get a glimpse why people say our patent system may be discouraging, not encouraging, innovation.
Obama Take Executive Actions to Curb Patent Trolls
Yesterday, President Obama announced several executive actions and legislative proposals aimed at curbing patent trolling. Congress is already considering a host of bills dealing with the abusive use of patents. For more on this story, check out this Reuters article.
Several weeks ago, I posted a link to Marc Maron’s WTF podcast where he urges his listeners to support the Saving High-tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes (SHIELD) Act, a pending bipartisan bill that would force patent trolls to pay defendants’ attorney’s fees in unsuccessful litigation.
This week, NPR’s Planet Money team discusses patent law and the patenting of podcasts. Here is a description of the story:
Back in the nineties, Jim Logan started a company called Personal Audio. The concept was simple — people could pick out magazine articles they liked on the internet, and his company would send them a cassette tape of those articles being read out loud. The cassette tapes didn’t catch on like Jim hoped, but he had bigger dreams for the idea behind them.
He dreamed that one day you wouldn’t need a cassette player, you would just be able to hear smart people talking about whatever subject you wanted, and that audio would be magically downloaded to a device of your choice. He says he dreamed of podcasting as we know it today.
Now Jim Logan did not create the technology to podcast. He himself is not a modern-day podcaster. But he did get a patent on that big dream of downloading personalized audio, and he claims to have the patent on podcasting.
On today’s show, he says all the people out there podcasting today, owe him money.
iPods, Copyrights, and… Star Trek?
NPR’s Planet Money teams’s recent podcast discussed copyright law as it relates to digital music (21:18 minutes).
Secondary markets exists for most products. For instance, one can sell an old CD on eBay or Amazon. “But what about songs from your iTunes library you no longer want?”
This question came to a head in a recent case, Capitol Records, LLC v. Redigi Inc. After ReDigi developed a business model that created a secondary market for mp3s, the recording industry sued ReDigi for copyright infringement. ReDigi contended that their business plan conformed with the “first sale doctrine,” which says that once a work is sold, it is the purchaser (not the copyright owner) who owns the material object in which the work is contained.
The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, which also quoted Star Trek along the way, wrote:
The novel question presented in this action is whether a digital music file, lawfully made and purchased, may be resold by its owner through ReDigi under the first sale doctrine. The Court determines that it cannot.
…the Court concludes that ReDigi’s service infringes Capitol’s reproduction rights under any description of the technology. ReDigi stresses that it “migrates” a file from a user’s computer to its Cloud Locker, so that the same file is transferred to the ReDigi server and no copying occurs. However, even if that were the case, the fact that a file has moved from one material object – the user’s computer – to another – the ReDigi server – means that a reproduction has occurred. Similarly, when a ReDigi user downloads a new purchase from the ReDigi website to her computer, yet another reproduction is created. It is beside the point that the original phonorecord no longer exists. It matters only that a new phonorecord has been created.
Podcast Patent Trolls: WTF?!
One of the most popular podcasts on the internet, WTF with Marc Maron, began today’s episode with an impassioned plea: stop the patent trolls. Apparently, patent trolls have begun to sue successful podcasts hoping for settlements or licencing fees. As comedian Marc Maron mentioned in his opening monologue, Personal Audio, a patent troll group, has sued Adam Carolla, another popular comedian podcaster. Maron urged listener to support the Saving High-tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes (SHIELD) Act, a pending bipartisan bill that would force patent trolls to pay defendants’ attorney’s fees in unsuccessful litigation.
Maron’s opening monologue about patent trolls lasts about 7 minutes. This podcast contains explicit language.