In the never-ending world of greed, money-grabbing, get-what’s-mine-and-what’s-yours corporate world, here is one you may not have heard of yet.
At stake, potentially, is the freedom of podcasting to exist as a category of personal publishing unburdened by a licensing cost for the basic platform of downloadable audio. An organization called Personal Audio, which apparently operates out of an empty office somewhere in Texas that no one ever goes to, has already sued Apple and others claiming it held patents on the concept of playlists, and it actually scored some victories. Well, the get in, cause confusion and chaos, and grab-all-the-money-you-can company, Personal Audio, is at it again, suing podcasters, including giant Adam Carolla's ACE Broadcasting, HowStuffWorks, and Togi Entertainment. Personal Audio claims it created a system for disseminating media content representing episodes in a serialized sequence, which later became the industry standard for podcasting—in terms of the field of communication it means to broadcast a message to the public without direct feedback from the audience—and it has the patent to prove it.
All podcasters depend on the number of hits they get to generate revenue. Even a radio station website generates revenue from the number of hits coming in from readers and listeners. A podcaster can also create a network of suppliers, so to speak: Dan Sanders talks about everything under the sun, but on that same website, Gordon Geek has a blog about the latest video games. Gordo may get 500 hits, and Dano may get 500 hits, but together they and the website have a thousand hits, which advertisers pay more for because of the exposure. That was a quick lesson in how to build a podcasting network.
Now enter the leeches claiming to hold the patent, Patent 8,112,504 (check it out), which Personal Audio LLC itself refers to as the podcast patent, a “system for disseminating media content representing episodes in a serialized sequence.”
If you’re a podcaster who has been hit with a letter from Personal Audio, contact the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or EFF, a non-profit digital rights advocacy group. EFF is offering its legal and support services to podcasters.
There are more thoughts on this and other topics on the shores of Rambling Harbor, which, as of Mother’s Day, hit 50,000 visitors, thanks to all of you. Join me once again and give a listen.