Podcasting patent trolls seek to intimidate EFF supporters, EFF fights back


Personal Audio is a patent troll that claims to own the process of sending audio around because they bought a patent from a guy who read Scientific American articles onto cassette tapes and sent them through the mail (seriously!). The Electronic Frontier Foundation is seeking to invalidate this patent -- which Personal Audio is using to shake down all kinds of indie podcasters for protection money -- using a new, cheaper, streamlined process.

Personal Audio is fighting dirty. They've filed an expensive lawsuit outside of the patent proceeding, and subpoenaed the names and personal details of everyone who donated to the campaign against their patent, purely to raise the price of adjudicating their patent and to intimidate podcasters who gave to the litigation fund rather than paying off Personal Audio.

EFF is fighting back. At stake is the process that is supposed to fix one tiny corner of the patent quagmire -- if Personal Audio's tactic succeeds, it will kill Congress's patent-fix dead.

The Juelsgaard Intellectual Property and Innovation Clinic at Stanford Law School has offered free counsel to anyone who's worried about the subpoena.

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Looking for podcasters who've been shaken down by patent trolls

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is looking for podcasters who've received legal threats from Personal Audio, a patent troll that claims a bullshit patent on "disseminating a series of episodes represented by media files via the Internet." Cory

Online narration workshop

StarShipSofa's Tony Smith sez, "StarShipSofa is holding a Online Narrators Workshop 10th June 2012 (4PM BST), carried out online by some of the best voice actors working today in the genre field. Guest Speakers are Kate Baker (Clarkesworld Magazine), Peter Seaton-Clark (Offstimmer), Mike Boris (MikeBorisAudio), and Nathan Lowell (Author Solar Clipper). StarShipSofa built its reputation by featuring science fiction from the best authors of our time, from living legends whose works have inspired generations to the rising stars of the genre. StarShipSofa's focus on quality science fiction has brought it an enthusiastic worldwide audience as well as the honor of being the first podcast in history to receive the Hugo Award. Who better to host a workshop for aspiring voice actors and narrators? If you wish to raise your narrating skills to the next level, join StarShipSofa and its special guests at this exciting workshop." Cory

Kevin Smith on going indie, podcasting, and "saving his career"


On CNN, Doug Gross has a good account of Kevin Smith's SXSW presentation on how he became a podcaster and weaned himself off the "heroin" of movie studio money, going direct to his fans instead for advertising, merch sales and sold-out houses when he toured. This being CNN, they've got a lot of [expletive] marks where Smith is saying "fuck" in his charmingly innocent way.

Smith said he decided to take advantage of his access to celebrities and gift of gab to launch a new project. And he deployed a technique he said has always served him well: do what you love and what you're good at, then figure out how to make money doing it.

And that led to "SModcast," a weekly podcast that he and friend/co-producer Scott Mosier launched in 2007 and do to this day.

It was free. But as its online audience grew, the opportunities to make money arose.

"People would tweet left and right: 'You put out so many free podcasts; how can I pay it back?' " said Smith, who has more than 2 million followers on Twitter. "I was like, 'Go buy a T-shirt' and they were like, 'Cool.' " ,p> Then came paid advertising. (The first sponsor notoriously being adult product Fleshlight). Then a paid version of the podcast, "SModcost," which contains bonus features but no ads.

Filmmaker Kevin Smith: Podcasting saved my career

(Image: Kevin Smith in Vancouver, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from shaynekaye's photostream)