For those who don’t follow the ins and outs of patent law (I don’t blame you, a lot of it is really boring stuff), there’s some important stuff happening right now that endangers the future of podcasting. Patent law, and specifically law protecting bad patents, is harming society and the economy, largely because of what are called patent trolls. Patent trolls are companies that file for or purchase patents for the express purpose of suing others for “violating” their patent. To be clear, patent trolls don’t actually produce anything of their own, they just use their patents to get money from other people who do make things. Currently, a patent troll named Personal Audio, LLC is suing several large companies (Apple being one of the more prominent), and sending demands to small companies, all seeking funds for doing nothing. They’re actually suing Adam Carolla’s company as well. I guess because he’s popular?
This company, and many companies like it, threaten the freedom of the Internet, and threaten podcasts like this one. Apple can afford to keep fighting, and I hope they do, but not everyone can. The good news is, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has decided to help, because, as they put it:
As with so many patent troll cases, the troll is asking for money despite having contributed nothing to the industry. By its own admission, Personal Audio tried and failed at its attempt to make an audio player. Having failed at actually making something, it became a shell company that does nothing but sue on its patents. And now it wants a handout from those who worked hard to create popular podcasts.
For those that care about podcasting, or just Internet freedom, it’s important to try to support the EFF as our best chance at defeating this troll.
If you can, give some cash, or if you’re broke, give some time; the EFF needs examples of prior art to help bust this patent. (Oops! Looks like the EFF already reached their money goal, but keep giving examples of prior art if you can.)