Adam Carolla to Patent Troll: Podcasting Is “Not The ATM You Think It Is”

Adam Carolla Show LogoAfter a 45-day gag order required him to not speak about the settlement of the infamous podcast-patent troll lawsuit, Adam Carolla was finally able to discuss the matter on his show. Carolla, along with his usual cohosts and special guest legal counsel Mike August went over some details of the case. Here are some highlights:

  • The so-called patent troll company, Personal Audio, sued Adam Carolla in a court district in East Texas known to be friendly to these types of lawsuits. Personal Audio also sued Apple under this patent in the same district and won to the tune of eight million dollars.
  • Carolla’s team was spending about $100,000 per month in legal expenses during the lawsuit.
  • Personal Audio stated its patent covers episodic content delivered via the Internet. The company sued NBC, CBS and Adam Carolla looking for royalty payments.
  • The lawsuit was originally filed against Carolla in January 2013. It was scheduled to go to trial in September 2014. In July 2014, Personal Audio approached Carolla about dropping the suit because he had been successful in raising legal defense funds thru crowdsourcing as well as creating a lot of negative PR for Personal Audio by tying the name of the company to the term “patent troll.”
  • Personal Audio initially filed their lawsuit against “Ace Broadcasting,” which isn’t a name officially used by Carolla. When they first tried to serve legal papers at Carolla’s studio they were turned away by Carolla’s staff for that very reason.
  • At first, Carolla wasn’t concerned about the lawsuit as he believed he hadn’t done anything wrong. But Mike August was quick to explain that in patent suits, the burden of proof is shifted from the plaintiff to the defendant, causing the defendant to have to prove they didn’t violate the patent.
  • In the papers served to Carolla, Personal Audio sent a 50-page, single-space document that was a copy of the patent with no further explanation of how the patent had been violated.
  • The patent was originally granted in 1996 based on an idea to syndicate magazine articles online. In 2009, the holder of the patent applied for a sub-patent that would cover newer technologies such as podcasting. The sub-patent was approved in 2012, opening the door to these types of lawsuits.
  • In the original lawsuit, Personal Audio demanded a payment of 3.5 million dollars. Mike August estimated that it’d cost 1.5 million to defend the case, and that’s why Carolla decided to fight the suit and turn to crowdsourcing for legal funds.
  • According to Mike August, Carolla didn’t simply “settle” the lawsuit. Personal Audio dismissed the case because the company felt Carolla’s PR campaign was tainting the jury pool in East Texas which would make it harder for Personal Audio to win other lawsuits.
  • Carolla’s team wanted Personal Audio to dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice but they wouldn’t agree to that so the case was dismissed without prejudice, meaning that they can technically sue Carolla again for the same thing.
  • Carolla had raised about $475,000 for his legal defense fund. Had he not accepted the dismissal, the lawsuit could’ve cost him more than a million dollars beyond what had already been raised.
  • Carolla spent about $675,000 defending the case, so even with the crowdsourced funds, he’s still at a deficit over the case.
  • CBS was sued on the same day as Carolla and the jury found CBS had infringed the patent and was ordered to pay 1.3 million dollars.
  • As part of the terms of dismissing the case, Personal Audio had to publicly state that they wouldn’t file similar lawsuits against other podcasters that had publicly supported Carolla. Marc Maron, Chris Hardwick, Earwolf, Jay Mohr  and Joe Rogan were specifically mentioned.
  • Mike August believes that if Personal Audio had to do it all over again, they wouldn’t file another suit against Carolla as they’ve realized that there just isn’t enough money in podcasting to make these types of lawsuits worthwhile.
  • Personal Audio had approximately ten different lawyers from three different firms working on the case. Carolla was using a single legal firm in Texas of three to five lawyers.
  • Mike August states that the podcast patent only applied to Carolla’s website. Since the Carolla podcast is distributed thru multiple channels, this actually lowered the amount of damages Personal Audio could claim in the lawsuit.

Carolla wrapped up the discussion by saying, “I think we’ve struck a nice blow for podcasters. I think the water shall be safe, whether it’s this company, Personal Audio, or other companies that come after that. Which is really that… This is not the ATM that you guys think it is… Go sue somebody else.”

You can download or stream the entire episode thru the link at the top of this article (the lawsuit discussion starts at about 14:53). Keep in mind that The Adam Carolla Show does carry an explicit tag for colorful language.

Resources for New Podcasters

Podcasting is on a huge roll and I could not be more excited for the space. I also see a massive influx of new podcasters who want to join the party and create content. Shows such as the New Media Show, Rob Greenlee and I produce are one of many great free resources for new podcasters.

As new podcasters join the space, it is important to make sure they are exposed to all of the free resources and commentary available to them. Too often these days, novice podcasters are being funneled into paid podcast pipeline-training programs that turn out a bunch of folks doing the same exact thing.

When I hear folks say, “I just finished my 12-week podcast training course and I am ready to start my show,” the thing I am thinking is they probably should be in about their eighth week of creating content versus just finishing a course.

When I started my show, it took me about two hours to figure out the tech and 30 minutes to go to Walmart to get a headset to record my show. Granted, the first 10 shows were not that great. Even now after 982 episodes I still learn something new every day. You can only become good at creating content when you are creating content.

In recent interviews, the two interviewers sent me the same exact questions to be covered. I asked them where they were trained and got the same answer. I am not saying paid consultants are bad, but it’s a concerning trend when shows are following the same cookie-cutter formula. I question whether that’s a smart thing to do when you are trying to break out in the space.

The community as a whole has a significant number of free resources and online forums that can answer about 90 percent of the questions needed to get started. Heck, need advice on Mic, Mixer, Host, Plugins, Skype, Interviews, Co-Host, Guests, Encoding Rates, Software? Answers to questions related to these topics can be found via many of the online resources listed below.

I hate to see folks spend thousands of dollars on consultants, then spend another thousand on their suggested hardware packages before ever uttering a word into the microphone when often the purchase of an inexpensive mic is all that is needed to get started.

I am not down-playing the roles consultants and trainers provide. But when I hear groups that have been formed to do review trading and other things to artificially bolster iTunes rankings, I find it strange they are not asking their audience to do that instead.

Lets us as podcasters help the new podcasters as much as we can. I have compiled a list of shows and online resources that I feel are great starter spots for new podcasters

Shows

Forums and Online Resources

While I know this is not a comprehensive list of everything available, I do feel the above links are great resources for the new podcaster to review and make use of for free. There are thousands of us podcasting, and we should pay it forward and help new podcasters as much as we possible can.

Women in Podcasting: Interview with Shey Harms

Podcast Shoutout LogoShey Harms has come up with a unique way for podcasters to get their show noticed by a wider audience. They can participate in her Podcast Shoutout with their elevator speech about their show. Her collection of “shoutouts” also gives podcast listeners a resource to check out when they are searching for more podcasts to listen to.

When did you get started in podcasting? What have you been doing in podcasting from then to now?

I started podcasting in February of 2013. I just came back from NMX in Vegas for the first time and after meeting several podcasters, they encouraged me to do my own show.

My first show was SlenderSafari. I produced a weekly show for the most part, but summer seemed to get a bit hectic and so did my show schedule. I ended that show around March 2014 so I could pursue other podcast and online ideas.

I also worked with my company at the time to try and launch a podcast for them, but ultimately they weren’t ready for that marketing step.

Now I have a show called Podcast Shoutout where I highlight a different show each week and let the original Podcaster share what their show is about.

What was it that inspired you to become a podcaster?

After meeting and talking to John Lee Dumas shortly after he launched Entrepreneur On Fire, I realized I had the desire to have my own show. He encouraged me to follow my passion (water skiing) but I still haven’t been brave enough to take that step. So I decided to share my journey with weight loss and motivate and encourage others in their weight loss journeys instead.

What is Podcast Shoutout, and how does it work? What is an “elevator speech”? What kinds of topics are discussed in the podcasts that have participated? How can other podcasters participate in Podcast Shoutout?

I refer to Podcast Shoutout as a “podcast directory, in the form of a podcast.” My ultimate goal is to have a 5 day a week show. Each day I would highlight a different Podcaster. The tricky part is, I have to rely on podcasters to share their show info in their own words. I’m just the person helping an audience connect to new shows they may have never heard of before.

Some of my first few episodes, I’ve shared a wrestling show (high school and college wrestling), a navy military podcast, a show about communication with the Communication Diva and a conservative political show. All shows are across the board from comedy to careers. The only ones I knew about are a few people I actually knew. Most of these shows are brand new to me.

An elevator speech is simply, pretend we are on an elevator and you have until we both get off the elevator to tell me what your show is about, who you are trying to reach and what value you want to share with others.

So far I have about 30 shows to share in total, and I’ve played 11 to date. I’ve encouraged everyone to have fun and make their show information entertaining or different and not be “boring”. This may be the first time someone has ever heard about their show, so remember to make a great first impression.

To participate, a Podcaster can go to PodcastShoutout.com and click on the green “record now” button. That will take them to my Speakpipe page where they can leave up to a 5 minute recording from their computer.

However, most people choose to record in their studio and send me an mp3 file instead for better quality. I think I prefer that method too.

All my shows last about 7 minutes in total, which includes an introduction about the Podcaster, how many shows are in their lineup, a couple of show titles and a couple of reviews,

Then I call a shoutout to the Podcaster and play their clip, follower by a 30 second wrap up that tells everyone how to find a particular show.

What words of wisdom would you share with women who are thinking about starting their own podcast?

First of all, I know that there are very few women podcasting compared to men so we need to encourage more women to think about hosting their own show. If women feel intimidated about the technology, they should watch some videos, maybe take some training, and push through it. Podcasting is fun and the connections you make with others is lifelong. You never know whose life you might impact by sharing your story or interviewing someone else and letting them enlighten your audience.

Audacity 2.0.6 Is Here

Audacity LogoVenerable open-source audio production software Audacity has had an official update. Now at version 2.0.6, the program used by many podcasters on Mac, Linux and Windows, has had some bug fixes along with a few changes to the UI:

  • Cut and Delete options have been moved to the top of the Edit menu.
  • Transport menu has been changed to offer a single Play/Stop button.
  • A “Play/Stop and Set Cursor” option for leaving the cursor set where playback was halted has been added.
  • Keyboard preferences have been redesigned and made searchable.
  • A new “Mix and Render to New Track” function has been added to the Track menu.
  • “Move Track to Top” and “Move Track to Bottom” options have been added to the Track drop-down menu.
  • A “Delete Label” function has been added to the context menu.
  • The “Snap To” option offers a choice of snapping to the closest or prior position.
  • The Truncate Silence effect has a new “Truncate Deleted Silence” setting.
  • The VST Effects dialog has been redesigned and VST effects now support standard FXP presets.

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Podcasts Are Back! Actually, They Never Left…

Washington Post LogoI guess it’s always good when podcasting gets some exposure from sources outside of the echo chambers that usually cover podcasting news. But it can be a mixed bag when those sources step in and cover our beloved medium. Sure, this coverage brings new eyes (and new ears!) to podcasting, and potentially to our shows. But the focus of the coverage can be shallow, usually sticking to firebrand topics like money and famous people.

An article was recently published by The Washington Post titled Podcasts are back – and making money. Nothing gets a mainstream publication more excited about podcasting than mentioning the fact that big-name celebrities are now podcasters and the Post article name drops its fair share (Adam Carolla, Snooki, Steve Austin, more). But the real lede the article wants to drive home is that, as the title suggests, podcasts are back! And they’re MAKING MONEY! I bet most people who read Podcaster News probably feel like podcasting never left. And most of us know that while it is possible to make money in podcasting, it’s really not that simple. The article cites statistics like the number of iTunes podcast subscriptions in 2013 (over 1 billion!) and that PodcastOne sells “millions of dollars” worth of ads thru its podcast network. I’m sure these big numbers will help to make a good impression on those who are just learning about podcasting for the first time. But they’re more the exception than the rule.

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National Podcast Day Is Happening September 30

National Podcast Day badgeThis coming Tuesday, September 30 is the first ever National Podcast Day. As the NPD website explains:

National Podcast Day is dedicated to promoting podcasting worldwide through education and public engagement.

There is National IPA Day, National Waffle Fries Day, National Pancake Day, and National pretty-much-anything-you-want Day. In the summer of 2013, Steve Lee (founder of NetCast Studio) heard a radio announcement for National Senior Citizens’ Day. Thinking that was pretty cool, it begged the question of why wasn’t there a day of celebration for podcasting. That’s when Steve said to himself “Let’s create National Podcast Day!”

September 30 was picked as the date for National Podcast Day because it’s the day before October, the month that many cite as the unofficial anniversary of podcasting’s beginning in 2004. A lineup of events is planned to help usher in National Podcast Day, starting on Sunday, September 29, including a webinar on audio production hosted by Mike Russell from Music Radio Creative, an official announcement livestream as well as two local podcast meetups in Omaha and Cleveland.

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