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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The Application Developers Alliance is trying to nail Lodsys, the notorious troll that uses a bogus patent from Intellectual Ventures to extort money from app developers. Lodsys is shrouded in mystery, uses global banks to avoid tax, and uses its patent claims to try to bankrupt companies that publicly call it out for trolling. The ADA is asking for developers who've been threatened by Lodsys to fill in a survey
that will establish the evidentiary basis for fighting back against the Lodsys racket and maybe put an end to it. (via Techdirt
In a surprisingly sane ruling Washington District Judge Robert Lasnik found that an IP address is not sufficient evidence of the identity of a copyright infringer. The case involved the B-movie Elf-Man, whose production company have gained notoriety through trollish attacks on people alleged to have downloaded the movie over bittorrent.
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John Steele is the colorful copyright troll whose work in shaking down people by threatening to link their names to gay porn with spurious lawsuits has been augmented by a series of bizarre legal maneuvers, including allegedly stealing his caretaker's identity in order to create a disposable buffer between Steele and his operation.
But he's got a new wheeze that takes the cake:
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MPHJ are the notorious patent trolls who claim that any business that scans documents and then emails them owes them $1,000 per employee. Their corporate structure is shrouded in mystery, hidden behind a nigh-impenetrable screen of shell companies, but thanks to a lawsuit the company has launched against the Federal Trade Commission, we're getting access to some details about their extortion racket. The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Julie Samuels rounds up the most interesting tidbits including the fact that MPHJ believes that every business in America with more 100 employees owes them $1,000 per employee, no matter what industry the company is in.
MPHJ brought suit against the FTC because it claims that it has a First Amendment right to send threatening letters to small businesses.
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Yesterday, the Popular Science website announced that it would no longer allow readers to comment on new stories. Why? Because science
, says online editor Suzanne LeBarre, who cited research showing how a minority of uncivilized, vitriolic comments can skew readers' understanding of the content of a story and contribute to political/ideological polarizations of opinion. Mother Jones wrote about the same study
more in-depth earlier this year. — Maggie
The Doubleclicks, whose Nothing to Prove music video is perhaps the best-ever rebuttal to the "fake geek girl" narrative, have a new song out: Love Song for Internet Trolls is an equally great answer to the lazy, spiteful, violent, and mean commenters out there in tubeland.
Love Song For Internet Trolls - The Doubleclicks
Leo Traynor, a "writer, analyst & political consultant" in Ireland, was hounded off of Twitter by a vicious anti-Semitic troll whose ghastly threats against him and his family were too much to bear. Traynor located his tormentor, though, and got quite a surprise
. It's a tale well told, and gave me goosebumps.
Zoe Williams examines the difference between trolls and the merely bad-mannered
. [The Guardian via The Awl
] — Rob
Something weird happened
on Twitter yesterday. It was annoying and upsetting at the time, but now it's meaty fodder for behavioral analysis discussions. Ethan Zuckerman wrote a blog post about
it that extracts some of the more interesting questions raised about social media and activism.
* Postscript: I've since traded tweets with the two guys behind the stunt, and we're cool.
After a few days on the block, copyright troll Righthaven's domain name sold for $3,300 this afternoon. The funds go to creditors of the bankrupt firm, which tried -- and failed -- to build a business shaking down websites that excerpted content from its clients' publications.
We almost bought it just so we could redirect it at humorously-chosen sites, but it got a bit too racy for us around the $2k mark. The whois currently remains the law firm that seized it; if you won it, get in touch!
Previously: Righthaven in its death throes, domain going up for auction
Yesterday I spotted Bisou, a new Libyan restaurant, which opened earlier this year here in Pittsburgh. At Reddit, Val_Holla reports that the proprietor claims no knowledge of his logo's origin, which may in turn indicate that he is a master troll. Here is the menu.