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Adam Carolla Settles With Podcasting Patent Troll

Unknown Lamer posted about a month ago | from the could-have-been-worse dept.

Patents 63

Personal Audio has been trying to assert patents they claim cover podcasting for some time now; in March Adam Carolla was sued and decided to fight back. Via the EFF comes news that he has settled with Personal Audio, and the outcome is likely beneficial to those still fighting the trolls. From the article: Although the settlement is confidential, we can guess the terms. This is because Personal Audio sent out a press release last month saying it was willing to walk away from its suit with Carolla. So we can assume that Carolla did not pay Personal Audio a penny. We can also assume that, in exchange, Carolla has given up the opportunity to challenge the patent and the chance to get his attorney’s fees. ... EFF’s own challenge to Personal Audio’s patent is on a separate track and will continue ... with a ruling likely by April 2015. ... We hope that Personal Audio’s public statements on this issue mean that it has truly abandoned threatening and suing podcasters. Though a press release might not be legally binding, the company will have a hard time justifying any further litigation (or threats of litigation) against podcasters. Any future targets can point to this statement. Carolla deserves recognition for getting this result.

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WOOHOO (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47701689)

Good

Lodsys has been very quiet of late (2)

seoras (147590) | about a month ago | (#47701701)

Lodsys, of "in-app purchases" infamy, have been very quiet of late.
Is the tide finally turning in the favour of innovation and common sense?

Re: Lodsys has been very quiet of late (5, Insightful)

frikken lazerz (3788987) | about a month ago | (#47701723)

There's still little to no innovation because innovative simply doesn't sell. The big companies are afraid to take risks, and individuals with big ideas have to deal with so much red tape and bureaucracy that most of them don't even try. Unless by innovative you mean dumbing down the user interface even more to appeal to the least common denominator. If so, then there's craploads of innovation.

Re: Lodsys has been very quiet of late (2)

JWW (79176) | about a month ago | (#47703677)

Whenever patent trolls get talked about, it always comes down to how much impact this is having on small businesses and entrepreneurs.

I think the patent trolls naturally tell us that this is "no big deal".

However, I can't shake the feeling that utterly abysmal rate of new small businesses being started these days is directly related to these fucking evil trolls.

I think any estimation of how much economic activity is being stifled by these trolls is quite possibly orders of magnitude off.

Re: Lodsys has been very quiet of late (1)

seoras (147590) | about a month ago | (#47715277)

> Unless by innovative you mean dumbing down the user interface even more to appeal to the least common denominator. If so, then there's craploads of innovation.

Oh you mean like Tim Berners-Lee did when he simplified human interaction with shared data on the fledgling internet which had, until then, been useable only by CS academics and a few industrial techs?

Give me craps loads more my friend...

Re:Lodsys has been very quiet of late (2)

maroberts (15852) | about a month ago | (#47701887)

I am still missing my Groklaw fix which used to assiduously track and report on such cases with detailed insight.

Re:Lodsys has been very quiet of late (2)

Stumbles (602007) | about a month ago | (#47702075)

So do I. The analysis done at Groklaw in my opinion was more than top notch and a joy to read. I was saddened when PJ announced its closing.

why bother doing anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47701707)

you just get sued, or arrested, or banned, or beaten up, or killed

ain't merica great

Re: why bother doing anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47701771)

Exactly. Even all the knowledge, expertise and intelligence in the world... without opportunity, it means nothing.

And opportunity is sadly a pipe-dream in 21st century 'murica.

Re: why bother doing anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47701787)

Some people say knowledge is power! Those people are liars.

Re: why bother doing anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47701807)

...or just don't know!

Re: why bother doing anything (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47701793)

Luckily nobody patented whining and hand wringing over the internet, otherwise Slashdot will get sued.

Adam? Adam? Is that you? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47701827)

Toot! Toot! Next time, don't CAVE. That is exactly what you did, wuss!

Re:Adam? Adam? Is that you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47702417)

Whinger not wuss.

Dammit! Adam you rolled over... (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about a month ago | (#47701869)

He should have pushed for court and had a judge rule then it would have murdered the whole thing and sent a clear message to all the other patent trolls.

Now the trolls have the ability to come back later, picking a poor podcaster that can not fight back.

Re:Dammit! Adam you rolled over... (4, Informative)

jeti (105266) | about a month ago | (#47702051)

He should, but he couldn't. Apparently he had already spent more than the $500.000 he had crowdfunded to fight the troll. Not everyone can afford justice.

Re:Dammit! Adam you rolled over... (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about a month ago | (#47702173)

So you ask for more, I donated $100 to his cause and would have thrown in another $100, Also get other big hitter podcasters to spread the word. Adam is big, but not Leo Laporte and TWIT big. He could have reached out and really churned the media on this.

Honestly these patent trolls need to be met with a legal nuclear bomb. You dont end on a peace agreement, you turn their world into a nuclear wasteland.

Re:Dammit! Adam you rolled over... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47702243)

Are you sure about those statistics? Right now on iTunes, the Adam Carolla show is #25 on the top podcasts list. TWIT is #70, and The Tech Guy is #94. On the top episode list, there are 4 episodes of Adam Carolla-related shows (three ACS with one at #2, one Adam and Dr. Drew Show) listed above the first instance of TWIT, which is #84. In the top 100, there are 5 ACS episodes, one Adam and Dr. Drew, and just 2 TWIT. No Leo solo on there.

Re:Dammit! Adam you rolled over... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47703445)

So at what point did iTunes become Nielson?

Re:Dammit! Adam you rolled over... (1)

CauseBy (3029989) | about a month ago | (#47704185)

In, what, like 2006 or something. It's been a while now.

Re:Dammit! Adam you rolled over... (1)

wed128 (722152) | about a month ago | (#47704203)

They are not Nielson, but they are a significant (if not perfectly distributed) sample of podcast listeners, and one of very few centralized sources of data on the subject.

Re:Dammit! Adam you rolled over... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47702391)

Adam has been asking for more money every day for months...every episode of every show on the Carolla Digital network has had at least two, maybe three requests for donations cut in to the broadcast for several months now. They set up separate fundraising through Amazon clickthroughs just for the troll fight. Despite all of that the donations have seemed to flatten out around $500k.

Why didn't you throw in that extra $100?

Re:Dammit! Adam you rolled over... (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a month ago | (#47704317)

Adam has been asking for more money every day for months...every episode of every show on the Carolla Digital network

Ah, there's the problem. Many of his biggest supporters in this effort have no interest in his shows at all.

Re:Dammit! Adam you rolled over... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47702457)

All podcasts on Carolla Digital had a message from him in the beginning, asking for donations to "crush" the patent troll.

And the guy has way more than 500.000 at his disposal.

Re:Dammit! Adam you rolled over... (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a month ago | (#47703563)

Adam Corolla has a whole podcast network, and that is bigger then TWIT and Leo.

The problem with Patent troll is that anyone who has a claim is now called a troll.

When you create a nuclear wasteland, it's everyone's world suffers.

Re:Dammit! Adam you rolled over... (1)

Ogive17 (691899) | about a month ago | (#47704139)

Unfortunately he has absolutely nothing to gain from proceeding further with litigation. He fought the good fight and didn't cave in to their demands. He got them to back off and created the framework for others to suceed as well.

He is a businessman, not a saint.

Re:Dammit! Adam you rolled over... (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | about a month ago | (#47708447)

Well, he "settled". I can't provide a direct quote, though it sure seemed like he said previously he'd never settle.

I'm glad at least that there isn't a permanent gag order, and Adam will give the details in not too long a time.

BTW, I am not saying I'm necessarily 100% on his side. There was either a Planet Money or Freakanomics podcast episode about Personal Audio, and, after listening to that, I do think they had something very close to "a podcast with cassettes".. As much as people disclaim patents of "do X __ON THE INTERNET___", this seems to me to be at least a more reasonable case of a patent "crossing media". IANAL , so that's why I say "seems". Though even Adam has said on his podcast that he's not against patents, he's mostly railed against the system itself.

Re:Dammit! Adam you rolled over... (4, Interesting)

usuallylost (2468686) | about a month ago | (#47702217)

It would have been great for him to invalidate their patent. I can however see where the economics of it might not work. Especially considering that the trial was occurring in a venue considered friendly to trolls. It sounds like he, and his legal team, made a calculation and figured that they were going to spend a lot more money with no certainty that the court would do the right thing. Also with no certainty that they would be able to recover any of their non-trivial legal fees. I can see where he would decide it was time to cut his losses. The silver lining here is that if he spent over $500,000 odds are they ended up spending something similar. So this whole endeavor has likely been a big money loser for them.

Re:Dammit! Adam you rolled over... (1)

unrtst (777550) | about a month ago | (#47702351)

The silver lining here is that if he spent over $500,000 odds are they ended up spending something similar.

It's quite difficult to consider spending half a million dollars on legal fees only to walk away without justice being served as being a silver lining. This is one more reason people should support the EFF - they see their cases through to the end whenever possible (AFAICT). The best outcome in this case for the lawyers involved is exactly what happened - loads of fees and no actual case; what motivation do they (in general) have to see patent trolls go away?

Re:Dammit! Adam you rolled over... (3, Insightful)

usuallylost (2468686) | about a month ago | (#47702959)

The reason I say it is a silver lining is that the money Adam Carolla lost is mostly crowd funded money. So a lot of people lost $20 each. The trolls didn't bankrupt him, it appears that they didn't succeed in forcing him to pay and they very likely lost ~$500,000 out of pocket. So for the trolls this is a net loss. Depriving them of funds, generating publicity for the cause and having them fail at their goals are all good things. Not as good as winning an outright victory but better than losing to them.

Lawyers as a general rule are loath to see anything that generates legal activity go away. No matter how abusive of the system it is. Just look at how much money lawyers spend defeating any measure that might be construed as tort reform. Still at the end of the day when a lawyer is being paid, assuming the lawyer isn't a crook, they generally act in their client's interests or at least within the confines of the client's instructions. From the point of view of the individual lawyers involved the very best thing that could happen is this case drags on for years and they get to bill a lot more hours. A case like this is a gravy train for lawyers and now it is ending.

Re:Dammit! Adam you rolled over... (3, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | about a month ago | (#47703441)

It's because we don't need tort reform, our system is pretty good. The vast majority of reasons people use for tort reform were made up by the insurance companies.

You clearly don't know any lawyers.

Re:Dammit! Adam you rolled over... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47704003)

It's because we don't need tort reform, our system is pretty good. The vast majority of reasons people use for tort reform were made up by the insurance companies.

Thank you for pointing out that poor example; while plenty of trial lawyer groups fight tort reform (which is actually bad for consumers), they also fight the trend towards corporate adjudication, damage caps, etc., which are also all bad for people (but good for corporations). Seems like the grandparent just has a chip on his shoulder about attorneys.

Re:Dammit! Adam you rolled over... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47726425)

Yes, because it is perfectly reasonable to have to spend half a million frickin' dollars to protect yourself from a completely frivolous and vexatious lawsuit.

Obviously, you are correct that no reform is needed. Who couldn't afford such a pittance?

Re:Dammit! Adam you rolled over... (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | about a month ago | (#47702393)

The biggest problem I see in the north-american justice system is that you have to pay (and pay a lot) to defend yourself, as absurd and ridiculous that are the accusations against you. That way the bandit lawyers always win, because winning or losing the cause they will always make you lose a lot of money.

Re:Dammit! Adam you rolled over... (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about a month ago | (#47704187)

He should have pushed for court

How much did you contribute to his crowdfunding campaign to help cover the million-dollar cost of going to court?

Re:Dammit! Adam you rolled over... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47705033)

>He should have ... had a judge ... murdered ... and sent a clear message to all the other patent trolls.

You're now on a watchlist.

Re:Dammit! Adam you rolled over... (1)

Scot Seese (137975) | about a month ago | (#47705157)

With the litigant (Personal Audio) having chosen to file in the Texas court system that historically favors the patent holders, Carolla's legal team probably advised him to take the deal, walk away without payment, secure future immunity and call it a victory.

It is unlikely that Personal Audio will file against other podcasters - even large ones, like Maron, Rogan, Nerdist, Ira Glass, LaPorte, et. al because the litigant discovered during filing that podcasters aren't making huge buckets of money. The largest, most successful podcasters - Carolla, Leo LaPorte, etc. are only clearing a few million dollars a year from advertising, merch and affiliate links - which may sound like a lot to you sitting at your computer, but to a large corporation is a rounding error. Which is why most of the trolls file against large companies. Like Apple, who would have salaried in-house counsel fight for a few weeks, until it was determined they could possibly lose, in which case they would quietly pay the troll $10 million to STFU and go away quietly.

Webcast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47701891)

Better to call it a webcast, i.e. episodic publication of audio files on the Internet.

Podcast is just Apples branding of the webcast for its iPod, and it came later.

This patent troll claimed *podcasts* infringed on its patent, as they came later , but webcasts came long before their patent and were a normal thing when they patented it.

All in all, the real mess here is a patent that should never have been issued by a patent office that permits everyone to patent everything and leaves it to the courts to resolve if there was an invention there later. The patent office should be held liable for issuing bad patents to non inventors.

Re:Webcast (2, Interesting)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about a month ago | (#47703321)

Better to call it a webcast, i.e. episodic publication of audio files on the Internet.

Podcast is just Apples branding of the webcast for its iPod, and it came later.

This patent troll claimed *podcasts* infringed on its patent, as they came later ,

This is all completely wrong. First, Personal Audio is not technically "troll" - it didn't buy patents to troll, it actually developed the (somewhat obvious) technologies. Paul Logan is a real inventor that has brought real products to market.

Second, there is no patent for "podcasting" at all. The Personal Audio patents are about distribution and organizing of episodic content. Yes, they had a real product that did that, until Apple incorporated the same techniques into iTunes.

Paul Logan's Slashdot interview [personalaudio.net] might be a little instructive for those that have only heard Adam Corolla's inflammatory fundraising scheme.

Logan: Well, I could answer this question by arguing that I did try to build a product. That I spent $1.6 million of my own money trying to realize our vision of a custom listening experience that ended up, at the end of the day, being implemented in the form of a cassette tape product, and not the digital player system we envisioned and patented.

When I left MicroTouch to start Personal Audio in 1996, we employed 500 people making touch screens in Massachusetts. Without those patents, we would never have gotten the company off the ground.

Re:Webcast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47703645)

Hi Paul.

You suck.

Re:Webcast (2)

jfengel (409917) | about a month ago | (#47705007)

It sounds to me as if he's pulling a switch in the middle of his argument. He didn't spend $1.6 million on the "episodic content" part. He spent the money on the playing device, which may have been noble and good, but he got his lunch eaten. (Not even by Apple. If it was a "cassette tape product", then it wasn't wireless and had less space than a Nomad.)

I'm sorry his product failed, but it seems like a reach to claim priority on the obvious parts of it. And I have even less sympathy when he's dragging in unrelated expenses to try to justify it.

Re:Webcast (1)

Pigeon451 (958201) | about a month ago | (#47705209)

I would mod you up against the storm of patent-hating middle-aged techies here if I had points. Unfortunately any post suggesting patents are good will get modded into oblivion.

The real issue is the plight of the middle income person trying to fight the corporation. Even if the patent is totally off base, we just can't afford it.

Patent trolls provide a valuable service (4, Insightful)

engun (1234934) | about a month ago | (#47701895)

The big corps would now have us believe that a special breed of troll called a "patent troll" is the only problem with the system, and they, like every entrepreneur, are merely victims. This is all just the same manipulative BS. The patent troll exists only because the patent system is broken. Fix the problem at its root and patent trolls will be irrelevant.

Re:Patent trolls provide a valuable service (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47702061)

Apple and Microsoft have spent a lot of money joining patent troll consortiums. It's just another rich man's method to extract extra money from consumers under the guise of license fees.

Re:Patent trolls provide a valuable service (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47702477)

[citation needed]

Re:Patent trolls provide a valuable service (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a month ago | (#47703023)

The patent troll exists only because the patent system exists... You can't fix what is "broken" by design. It's time for complete utter abolition. And copyright too! Pure corruption, all of it...

Re:Patent trolls provide a valuable service (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47709025)

I hope your hard work is taken away without compensation.

Podcasting is Dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47701931)

All the once good shows are gone, now the podsphere is nothing but crap. Bad music riddled with ads, and celebrities fellating each other in shitty interview shows. I miss the classic podcasts, like Diggnation, Penn Jillette Radio, and Infected by Martin Sargent. Those were actually funny shows, not that fake interview crap that is pervasive now.

While I'm on the subject, I also miss when people would podcast video. It was awesome to download a video and then watch it later. My computer and iPod were like DVRs. The whole video podcast genre has died thanks to Youtube. What is the point of having open standards like RSS+MP4 when everyone would rather lock off their content by putting it on these proprietary video sites.

The Internet sucks these days. It's all too commercial.

To each his own (1)

justthinkit (954982) | about a month ago | (#47702181)

The notion that podcasting is dead is quite humorous. Brings to mind the "email is dead" articles.

My favorite Bill Burr webcasts are when it is just him. Yes, he jams in two big bunches of ads, but a few clicks is all it takes to skip them.

I think the point is that things change. TV channels change (usually getting worse). Podcasts change, usually by adding disruptive ads. The solution is always the same -- branch out, trying something new.

My podcast [just-think-it.com] , has no ads & no guests, runs about 75 minutes. I work on adding potential content all week. Editing takes three times as long because why should my listener suffer my hums and haws.

Re:To each his own (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | about a month ago | (#47702507)

You sound a little like Bob Ross, the guy who used to do the painting show on public television.
But what is that you're doing with the names? Is that numerology? Seriously?

Re:To each his own (1)

justthinkit (954982) | about a month ago | (#47703171)

I wasn't sure if your "seriously?" was a question, or a critique. Anyway, "no" to the second question.

Re:To each his own (1)

Silvrmane (773720) | about a month ago | (#47703855)

I agree completely. Bill's podcast is funny. What kills me is that he botches up reading the ads so badly that they also become very entertaining. I remember one time he just stopped reading an ad halfway through and blasted the advertiser for selling a really terrible product. I think it was some kind of 'healthy' snacks or something. Needless to say, he lost that advertiser that day. Please nobody tell Bill that he could just record one 'good' take of an ad and just edit it in every week.

Re:To each his own (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | about a month ago | (#47708647)

I skip prerecorded ads (e.g. beginning, end of Carolla's podcast.. sometimes in the middle). I listen to live reads, for those kinds of mistakes or just riffing..

Re:Podcasting is Dead (2)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about a month ago | (#47703339)

There are still some gems out there. You should check out Adam Curry and John C. Dvorak's No Agenda Show [noagendashow.com] .

Re:Podcasting is Dead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47705045)

In the Morning, Lone Wolf.

Obama Be Remembered as the Patent Troll Slayer (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47702153)

Obama will be Remembered was the patent Troll Slayer

http://www.wired.com/2014/03/obama-legacy-patent-trolls/

Do Rand Paul and the House Republican just want the free market lawyers to fix this for us?

Thank God for Barrack Obama.

Not "Podcasting" (2)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about a month ago | (#47702717)

Personal Audio has been trying to assert patents they claim cover podcasting

This is completely false. The patents don't cover podcasting per se, rather they cover methods for displaying and indexing podcast directories for distribution, the way they are organized in, for instance, the iTunes store. You can podcast all you want, distribute your podcasts and do everything else with them without Personal Audio making a claim, unless you put them into an iTunes store-like directory.

Not saying that it's a whole lot better, but this patent is easily avoidable, and the description is just disinformation.

Re:Not "Podcasting" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47703191)

The patent is also invalid and should never have been granted. The only way to get rid of it is to challenge the validity in court. A settlement means he's not going to do that and the patent stands. It doesn't matter that it's easily avoidable, it's not something that should have been patented in the first place.

At what royalty? (2)

tepples (727027) | about a month ago | (#47703555)

I looked on the company's website, and it appears to list no royalty schedule, unlike MPEG LA and MP3Licensing (Fraunhofer/Technicolor).

Re:At what royalty? (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about a month ago | (#47703877)

I looked on the company's website, and it appears to list no royalty schedule, unlike MPEG LA and MP3Licensing (Fraunhofer/Technicolor).

Well those guys are involved in "standard" organizations, so their patents have to have a schedule so they qualify as RAND patents.

So much for fighting (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a month ago | (#47702983)

eh, Corolla?

Re:So much for fighting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47703079)

Sometimes the best you can do is a draw. It's not up to him whether or not the plaintiff drops the case.

Crowdfunding the rich? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47703333)

I think he might have pushed a little harder to get his attorney fees back if it had been his money, not mine, spent fighting this patent. This is the sort of thing (also, Oculus, etc.) that will end up killing crowdfunding. Widely disseminated public risk, closely held private gains.

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