Adam Carolla Settles with the Patent Trolls


Comedian and podcaster Adam Carolla has settled with Personal Audio, the so-called "patent troll" that sued him for infringing on its intellectual property.

Personal Audio claimed that The Adam Carolla Show and, by extension, every other podcast violated its patent on episodic content "in which a host system organizes and transmits program segments to client subscriber locations." While many targets of patent trolls find it easier and less risky to settle, Carolla tapped into his large audience and fought back with the money raised through his "Save Our Podcasts" fund. Reason TV talked with Carolla earlier this summer about his legal battle, and he had this to say (full video interview below):

"We sort of felt like, well, it'd be nice for our podcasting brothers not to give them 'X' amount of dollars… When terrorists take hostages, if you start negotiating with them, they just start taking more camera crews. We just figured we'd save the next camera crew. We'll take the duct tape and the zip ties."

While the terms of the settlement prohibit Carolla or Personal Audio from discussing the case until September 30, 2014, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which will continue to pursue its own lawsuit against Personal Audio, speculates that Carolla did not have to pay out anything to Personal Audio. As evidence, they point to the fact that Personal Audio only weeks ago put out press releases essentially begging Carolla to drop the matter altogether.

EFF breaks down Carolla's decision to settle into "the good, the bad, and the ugly": The good being that Carolla has made the business of suing podcasters seem a bit less lucrative and the bad being that settling fails to invalidate the patent altogether. As for the ugly, EFF writes:

The most disappointing aspect of today's settlement is how unsurprising it is. Almost every defendant, no matter how strong their case, ends up settling with the patent troll. Litigating patent cases is extraordinarily expensive. Carolla raised almost half a million dollars and that still would not have been enough to fund a defense through trial.

Trolls know this and use the cost of defense to extort settlements. In the rare case where someone shows a willingness to fight to the end, the troll will often save its patent at the last moment with a walk-away deal.

Until Congress quits ignoring software patent reform, the expensive burden to fight off frivolous claims will remain on the shoulders of entrepreneurs like Carolla, or software developer Austin Meyer, profiled in the video below. But on that front, Carolla is decidely pessimistic. During his interview with Reason TV, he recounted this story from his trip to Washington, D.C. to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee:

"I got a call about an hour later that said, '[Sen. Patrick] Leahy shot it down,'" says Carolla (4:23). "Leahy, and the Democrats—even though this is a bipartisan thing—are just in the back pocket of the trial lawyers' association… But because Leahy's a hero, he did explain that it's very important. Because, you know, all those things that are super important, you're not going to get to for another year or two. Like when your doctor says, 'This is really important,' and you say, 'Ok, see you in a year!'"

"It gave me renewed hope in the system and how one man could make a difference. Oh wait… it was a total waste of time."

NEXT: Tonight on The Independents: Ferguson, Iraq, the Right to Try Drugs, the 'Greatest Threat' to Press Freedom, Plus Andrea Tantaros and Sexy Aftershow

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  1. "It gave me renewed hope in the system and how one man could make a difference. Oh wait... it was a total waste of time."

    Yeah, unfortunately, this so often.

    1. Agreed & I don?t blame him, but this is how small evils continue in this country - they?re hidden in this bureaucratic nightmare where at each level, no single individual is responsible, but everyone agrees the entire process sucks.

      It just affects so few - we do nothing.

      First they came for ________, but we all did nothing, because honestly the time and cost to fight outweighs what most can gather in a lifetime.

      I don?t know what the solution is, sans a major shift in people?s perceptions of these things or some revolution or whatever, but Carson here just explained exceptionally well what one of the largest problems facing us today is - inability to fight for true change.

      Note - they do this criminally too - if you?re a rich libertarian (I know - that?s all of you) and say want to fight a stop light ticket due to disparate penalties for the same infraction - they will simply dismiss the charges if they believe for a second you have the resources and will to fight it to the end.

      & if they think for a second you do not - they will offer you a plea - something like non-moving, only court costs, and if you don?t take it and go to trial - they will max anything they can.

      Or when you ask the government to provide details of programs so that you might have the information in which to fight them and they refuse.

      What exactly is the point of a free country when most are successfully bared from fighting for what they believe is right?

      1. I am kinda surprised at a settlement agreement, particularly one that includes a restriction that prevents him from discussing it. This is something he specifically said he would not do - the entire point was to band the podcasting community together and plant their flag here. No settlement, nothing less that "drop your lawsuit and go away".

        Since it sounds like Personal Audio had offered to settle for no money if he would sign some sort of agreement that left the door open for them to continue in this line of business and he shot them down, I would be very surprised to learn that he had indeed signed a secret settlement agreement that includes some sort of patent license that can be used against other parties.

        This is similar to the strategy employed by Microsoft against the Linux community - find a handful of midsized players that you don't view as a threat or as a serious source of revenue and reach an accord, then use those agreements to bludgeon everyone else into paying big licensing fees. Stopping that from occurring was the entire point of the community funding of the lawsuit.

  2. lol Browns

  3. Nelly is officially the voice of reason in Ferguson.

    Nelly to #ferguson protestors: "We can't overreact." Says showing destruction is working backwards.

    1. Reminds me of the chappelle bit about ja rule and 9/11


  4. Sane IP laws are one thing, but we're way past sane. And it's not just the trolls, either. Why is the PTO handing out patents on obviously unpatentable things? Hard not to suspect politics. . .like rewarding the plaintiffs' bar.

    1. I truly don't believe in Intellectual "property"... all the founders' writings on the subject of copyright and such reflect that ideas can't be "owned" and "monetized" and copyright was put in place for a "limited time" to control access... copyright isn't a property right. It never was. The patent trolls and software patents in general are heinous travesties of the process. Put in place by buying votes and crony capitalism. Disney's whole fortune rests on the perpetual copyright. They sucked the Public Domain dry and never bothered to put anything back. And they call us "leeches" for format-shifting.

      I don't know how someone duped people into believing algorithms are patentable... math isn't patentable...

      Politics drive this process more than ever. I spent most of the late 90's/early 2000's writing letters, faxing Congressmen about the DMCA and TPM.... It never worked out... but I wasn't the only one, and with some EFF help, it didn't get too out of hand (I guess that's all we can hope for at this stage of the empire.)

      I did enjoy writing nasty letters to Fritz "the Senator from Disney" Hollings about his ignorance of technology (encrypt computers! Force users to rent their content!). I'm sure no one read them, though. It gave me a sense of satisfaction that at least I was one voice of dissent.

      Copyright used to be sane, required registration and re-registration upon expiration or it became Public Domain. I've never been a fan of the copyright system or the *AA's.

      1. If you don't believe in Intellectual Property, you don't believe in private property. They are one in the same.

        1. Nope. They aren't Copyright isn't a property right.

        2. Intellectual property is a government granted monopoly. You can justify it for various reason but that doesn't make it equal to private property.

      2. I truly don't believe in Intellectual "property"... all the founders' writings on the subject of copyright and such reflect that ideas can't be "owned" and "monetized" and copyright was put in place for a "limited time" to control access

        A large portion of the reason that aristocrats didn't much care for intellectual property is because their wealth came in other ways. Edmund Burke didn't much care about copyright because he had a shitload of money through his peerage. Similarly, many of the founders didn't care because they were wealthy in other ways.

        If you want people who aren't rich to write and contribute, there has to be a way for them to make money. This means intellectual property protections. Otherwise only the independently wealthy can contribute.

        American IP law is moronic and in desperate need of reform, but you can't be against all IP.

    1. 1. Learn about the racialized history of Ferguson and how it reflects the racialized history of America.

      2. Reject the "he was a good kid" narrative and lift up the "black lives matter" narrative.

      3. Use words that speak the truth about the disempowerment, oppression, disinvestment and racism that are rampant in our communities.

      4. Understand the modern forms of race oppression and slavery and how they are intertwined with policing, the courts and the prison industrial complex.

    2. 5. Examine the interplay between poverty and racial equity.

      6. Diversify your media.

      7. Adhere to the philosophy of nonviolence as you resist racism and oppression.

      8. Find support from fellow white allies.

    3. 9. If you are a person of faith, look to your scriptures or holy texts for guidance.

      10. Don't be afraid to be unpopular.

      11. Be proactive in your own community.

      12. Don't give up.

    4. This public service message was brought to you by the People Who are Morally Superior to You Because They Enjoy Elevated Levels of Melanin.

      1. I've always followed #10. 🙂

    5. From #1: She mentions "white flight" as one of the sources for "deadly tensions" between racial groups.

      Eh...I bet she doesn't appreciate "gentrification", either.

      1. Look, white people were racist for leaving, and now they're racist for coming back. Oh, and if they stayed away? Racist.

    6. #2: she fails to mention the whole robbery aspect of the case. No, he didn't deserve execution for stealing cigars, but stealing is hardly an activity engaged in by "good kids".

      1. This kid didn't deserve to die because he was a human being and black lives matter.


        1. Do "lives" matter, though? Like, all of them? Let's face it: a lot of "precious lives" are just taking up resources. It's not like Brown was working on a cure for ebola. (I think this should put me firmly in #10 territory.)

    7. #3: What's happening is not a riot. The people are protesting and engaging in a justified rebellion. They have a righteous anger and are revolting against the police who have terrorized them for years.

      Nothing causes the police more harm than attacking the private property of individuals that are in no way affiliated with law enforcement.

    8. #4. We don't enslave black people on the plantation cotton fields anymore. Now we lock them up in for profit prisons at disproportionate rates and for longer sentences for the same crimes than white people.

      She actually has a good point here.

      1. Ironically, the people most likely to reverse this trend are dismissed as "racists" because we believe in individual liberty, an end to central planning, and no "special classes" of people.

        1. The way to reduce the trend (if) is to send people to prison for petty crimes. Last I checked, that wasn't on the libertarian to-do list.

          1. ending the War on Drugs doesn't count? that's on the to-do list... for more than just libertarians... not those in charge of course... too much profit.

            1. Ending the war on drugs will make the prisons more black. 'Reduce disparities' and 'reduce total prison pop' aren't compatible goals.

              1. It's a start. Most of the blacks and other minorities in prison are in there for drug crimes. The vast percentage of "petty crimes" are pot possession and having a bong...

                Just ask Tommy Chong about that.

                Just because I think we should start with ending the War on Drugs doesn't mean I want to stop there... Reforming sentencing guidelines is a natural progression of the end of the WoD.

                1. Are you retarded?

              2. How so, when blacks are MUCH more likely to be charged, convicted and incarcerated for drug crimes than whites, even though usage and dealing rates are similar?

                1. About 20% of prisoners are there for a drug crime. Gluesponge ("Most of the blacks and other minorities in prison are in there for drug crimes.") is living in another universe.

                  The reason ending the drug war would make prisons more black is that "blacks are MUCH [MUCH MUCH MUCH] more likely to be charged, convicted and incarcerated" for real crimes. Unlike victimless crimes, the conviction rate can be, and is, verified by victimization surveys.

                  Ending the drug war to reduce the black % of prisons makes as much sense as raising admission standards to reduce the Asian % of a college.

    9. #5: While racism and class oppression are tangled together in this country, the fact remains that the number one predictor of prosperity and access to opportunity is race culture.

      FIFH. I would argue that members of the the Southern White Trash Culture are subject to the same disadvantages as the members of the African-American Ghetto culture (indeed, as Dr. Sowell argues, they are pretty much the same culture).

      1. FIFH. I would argue that members of the the Southern White Trash Culture are subject to the same disadvantages as the members of the African-American Ghetto culture

        The Thomas Kelly killing was much worse than the Michael Brown shooting, but it didn't have this kind of reaction.

        This is purely about race. When a white person is beaten to death progressives don't care. In fact, they'd love if more white conservatives were slaughtered by the state.

        Incidentally, has anyone noticed the similarity between this and the Bundy Ranch situation? Both of them had unsympathetic protagonists (Racist Bundy and Thuglife Brown) and unsympathetic supporters (People who were at the Bundy ranch are still meandering about Nevada bothering the locals and Brown supporters are riotous idiots who burn stores). Both were worried and enraged by an increasingly authoritarian American police system.

        And yet Bundy supporters hate Brown supporters and vice versa. It's almost like this whole thing is racist tribal posturing which cares little for the evidence presented.

        1. In fact, they'd love if more white conservatives were slaughtered by the state.

          Our natural allies! /Thaddeus Russell.

    10. #6: Be intentional about looking for and paying close attention to diverse voices of color on the tv...

      I listen to Dr. Sowell and Dr. Williams. Do they count?

      1. What surprises me (constantly) is the fact that no one who isn't "of color" can possibly say anything relevant. And if those voices "of color" like Sowell or Williams fail to toe the line of the Progressive narrative, they are dismissed as Uncle Toms, and not worthy to continue to speak for their "culture" or "race"...

        Galling, actually, to consider my skin color has anything to do with anything but what sunscreen I should buy.

    11. #7: Dr. Martin Luther King advocated for nonviolent conflict reconciliation as the primary strategy of the Civil Rights Movement

      And you honkey-crackers should follow his lead. Also, ignore the so-called "looting" in Ferguson, which is really justified revolt. Don't worry about trying to figure out the difference between actual looting and justified revolt; your tiny little honkey-cracker brain just cannot comprehend. I'm sorry for using big words, by the way.

    12. Wow. Ferguson is really bringing out the moron in all sides of the political spectrum. From psychotically racist comments at Breitbart.com to moronic racism from left-wing websites, this is really showing the best America has to offer.

      1. Breitbart, huh? Let's see...


        2 ? Reply?Share ?
        cdnrod ? 33 minutes ago
        Just heard on the police scanner that 4 white woman with guns and an officer called back saying it's the tattoo shop employees protecting there store.
        3 ? Reply?Share ?
        southernman cdnrod ? 26 minutes ago
        What scanner are you listening to?. I'mlistening to county dispatch, 1st precinct but don't hear much on the scanner app.
        1 ? Reply?Share ?
        cdnrod southernman ? 22 minutes ago
        Ustream police scanner St. Louis

      2. By 'best' you mean 'worst', right?

        1. By 'best' you mean 'worst', right?

          Always. Especially when Breitbart and progressives are at issue.

  5. -Reject he was a good kid narrative.

    Nah. If he's a scrawny kid, play up the angle he couldn't hurt a fly. If he's a giant, play up the angle he wouldn't hurt a fly. Even if he is a thug, a compelling story is to portray him as deep, deep down he was a good guy.

    1. He wouldn't hurt a fly. Asian owners of the local mercantile, however...

    2. This sort of characterization came up when the country was debating the whole Anwar Al-Alwaki droning (and his kid), who were both American citizens deprived of their Constitutional rights by the President who violated due process and blew them up (Al-Alwaki's son wasn't even a target)...

      People claimed he was as much of a terrorist as Bin Laden, and if he said naughty things about the US, he should've been blown up, etc.

      I have no doubt Al-Alwaki was an asshole, but like the kid in Ferguson, it doesn't matter if he's an asshole, a raving Lyndon LaRouche supporter, or a militant Communist... rights are not subject to a loyalty oath.

      I couldn't care less if either of them were "good guys" or blithering, frothing criminals... due process isn't suspended because of how someone (or the state) "feels" about you.

      Most people aren't confident enough in their convictions to step that direction... and that's why Obama's kill list is a-okay, and his murder of at least 4 American citizens was justified.... God King, etc....

      The justification of the cop's shooting in Ferguson will follow the same track, because Progressives can't retreat from their love of Unions and militant police, and the Socons can't get behind a black suspect.

    3. Also, 'he was just beginning to turn his life around' means he had a rap sheet.

  6. Aren't there Ferguson threads already? I thought this post was about Carolla. Speaking of which, as much as I like Adam, he's starting to disappoint me. He made a big deal about dealing the final blow to the patent trolls, but in the end he settled. So all his talk about "saving podcasting" was a lot of hot air.

  7. By the lady's definition, I was a patent troll. See my US pats. 4,980,364 & 5,336,446. I invented those things specifically to license to other entities, not to go make myself, although in the case of the latter patent I eventually did have it made & lost a bundle. Having some entities invent & others practice those inventions is economically efficient & if anything should be encouraged rather than discouraged. See for instance the Freeman article analyzing the situation explored in the movie Tucker, which article concluded that it was a mistake for Tucker to try to make & market his own cars rather than licensing his technology to other makers.

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