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A company called Personal Audio patented the vague concept of podcasting, and it’s threatening to take some podcasts down in court.
Podcasters around the world have united, rallying around a pretty important cause: saving podcasting as we know it.
The threat’s not that far off, thanks to a company called Personal Audio, which claims it created the very notion of a podcast. It’s commonly accused of being a “patent troll,” meaning it patents an already existing technology or tries to patent with vague language, then creates a business model on demanding money from those who use that technology.
Back in 1996, Personal Audio filed a claim on an “apparatus for disseminating a series of episodes represented by media files via the Internet as said episodes become available.” It’s used that to justify already suing a few podcasts, like The Adam Carolla Show, plus big guys like CBS and NBC. It also demands money from independent podcasters like WTF‘s Marc Maron, who called the scheme “extortion.”
Thankfully for podcasts and those who love them, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is stepping up to help by fighting Personal Audio in court. But that involves steep legal fees, so the EFF’s asking for donations—something podcasters, who don’t have a lot to give in the first place, are helping rustle up.
Soon after the EFF called for donations Thursday evening, both Maron and Jesse Thorn, host of Maximum Fun, each gave a grand.
— Jesse Thorn (@JesseThorn) May 30, 2013
— marc maron (@marcmaron) May 30, 2013
And though they didn’t flash any cash, plenty other luminaries urged followers to join in, ranging from tech podcasters …
— Tim Robertson (@mymac) May 30, 2013
… to comedian and frequent podcast guest star Patton Oswalt.
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) May 30, 2013
“We’re thrilled by the level of support,” Daniel Nazer, a staff attorney at the EFF, told the Daily Dot. “The podcasting community is very passionate about what they do,” Nazer said, “so it’s probably no surprise to see folks speaking up.”
Indeed, the fundraiser had reached its $30,000 goal in less than 10 hours. So far, almost $41,000 has been donated, with the additional funds going “to fight stupid patents like this one.”
Image via Yagraph/Wikimedia Commons
A former senior politics reporter for the Daily Dot, Kevin Collier focuses on privacy, cybersecurity, and issues of importance to the open internet. Since leaving the Daily Dot in March 2016, he has served as a reporter for Vocativ and a cybersecurity correspondent for BuzzFeed.