Dispatches from the Head

Podcasters are under attack from Patent Trolls.



Thank you Pacific Northwest! Hello to the rest of you!

Great shows in Portland and Seattle. I was feverish in Seattle and did a marathon, near-two-hour set. I wanted people to get their Maron’s worth. Portland was a blast. Was there for less than a day and had some Pok Pok wings, hung out with Ian Karmel and the theater almost flooded. The toilet broke. It had nothing to do with the wings. Just happened.

I will be at SWSX with the IFC folks and doing a live WTF there. Please check my schedule at wtfpod.com/calendar for upcoming dates in Chicopee, Boston (stand up and a live WTF,) SF, Bethlehem and Milwaukee. I will be shooting an hour special in NYC in April. I will let you know when and where.

I have to be honest with you people. I guess I don’t have to be, but I seem to choose to be. I think I am suppressing a shitload of anxiety and dread. Maybe I’m just putting them on the back burner and choosing to keep excitement on the front one. My book is coming out at the end of April and my show premieres on IFC at the beginning of May. Everyone in the world is going to have the opportunity to be sick of me all at once in at least three mediums. That’s negative. See, in my mind, my excitement is always diminished by my need to prepare for the negative. I know these things are going to happen and I know that, given the world we live in with all its wonderful access opportunities, I’m going to be filtering some shit coming at me. I can barely disengage with trolls in any format now, without a ton of stuff out there. All I’m saying is that I will have to work an Al-Anon program for the Internet. That’s a very specific joke but those of you who were on it, enjoy.

I’m actually thrilled with the way the book came out, as I am with the TV series. I want you know that. I am antsy for you all to see them both.

If you all weren’t aware yet you should know that some podcasters are under attack from patent trolls. Adam Carolla is actually being sued. A patent troll called Personal Audio claims to own the patent for podcasting and is suing Adam and some other podcasts and sent letters of coercion to me and about a dozen others. It’s serious bullshit. I know you’re thinking, “How can you patent ‘podcasting?’ That’s ridiculous.” It is ridiculous, even when you look at the patent, but now someone has to pay LOTS of money to prove that.

Patent trolls are companies who don’t make anything or don’t sell anything, but own patents and use them as a weapon to extort money from businesses and individuals, usually demanding licensing fees that are cheaper than actually litigating a case in court. A patent troll uses patents as legal weapons, instead of actually creating any new products or coming up with new ideas. Instead, trolls are in the business of litigation (or even just threatening litigation). The business model works because patent litigation is so expensive—often costing well into the millions of dollars. This means that when facing the threat of a patent suit, many will choose to settle instead of fight. Of course, this just further emboldens the patent trolls.

Podcasters are uniting to figure out a course of action and help each other. The EFF has been helping us and also asking us to help them support new legislation called the SHIELD Act to make Patent Trolling less prevalent. Please go here eff.org/shield and let your representatives know how you feel.

I may need more of your help around this problem in upcoming months. I will let you know.

Thanks to all of you who bought ‘Boomer Lives’ shirts, I was able to donate 700 dollars to Tony LaRussa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (arf.net). We did a bit of research and I like what they are doing. It will go directly to saving animals’ lives. Thank you. I will send more as more shirts go onto your backs.

On the show this week is the astounding John Darneille of the Mountain Goats. He’s an amazing songwriter and musician with an incredible story. He’s also a great talker which is of course good for our endeavor. On Thursday the lovely Gina Gershon is on the show. She appears in an episode of my IFC show and here she is in the garage. Love her.

Enjoy.

Boomer lives!



Love,
Maron


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  • 2 Comments


Mike@WTFDiego March 04, 2013 at 12:52 am


I have owned a patent and I have been on a list of inventors on patents for products I helped develop. Patents have a place in a capitalist economy, but patent trolls don’t. Please support The SHIELD Act (H.R. 845) by contacting your congress-person and your senators. This is the first piece of legislation I have seen that deals with this problem without rewriting the laws on intellectual property (which is a steep uphill battle). Thanks.

Beans March 14, 2013 at 11:56 pm


This might be a dumb suggestion, unfeasible, already thought of, etc., but why not move your distribution to Canada?  At least until the air settles and the SHIELD act is up and running.  Register a domain in Canada and just set it up as a “Canadian” podcast.  Or anywhere other than the States, for that matter.  It’s not like these guys can go after Russian Podcasts or anything.  Or maybe they can, knowing the fucking world today.  Also, declare April 1st as “Punch a Patent Troll in the balls” day.