Patent Company Goes After Podcasters
Patents were invented in order to protect designs and concepts that inventors come up with, so that they could benefit from a financial reward for their hard work without others simply taking their ideas and making money off of them. They were incentives so companies would keep innovating. Now however, some might argue that patents have gone far beyond their original intentions, with companies being formed with the sole purpose of accumulating patents then sueing others whenever they could to bring in licensing fees. This is what happened so many times in recent years when companies, some would call patent trolls, went against people for commonly used technology.
Last month the EFF reported that a new potential patent troll had surfaced and was now going after podcasters. The company is called Personal Audio and they claim to have a patent that covers recording audio to be distributed over the Internet, which obviously would cover a lot of uses. At first they only went against companies and developers making podcasting software, but now it appears that Personal Audio is going after any individual who records audio that they then offer online.
So far, some popular podcasters have reported receiving threatening letters asking for money, including the comedian Adam Carolla, HowStuffWorks.com, and Togi Entertainment. Needless to say, many podcasters are providing their content for free or for very little money, and being asked to pay a fee every time they record audio comes out as being unreasonable. These types of cases is why Obama recently called for patent reform, unfortunately for some, that reform may not come fast enough.