Podcasts Vs. Patent Trolls: How You Can Help

You know how you don’t pay attention to some threats until they directly target you? Yeah, we got one like that. Listen up, because if you’re a podcast fan, this involves you. And before you go the tl;dr route, just think about a world without your favorite podcasts. Close your eyes and picture the void in your existence. Got it? Okay, onward:

You may or may not be familiar with the idea of patent trolls. If you’re not, you can read this and this and listen to this:

And definitely this:

The short version is that someone is asserting a patent that claims to control the mechanism by which you subscribe to podcasts. And by “asserting,” I mean that they’ve fired a warning shot at the entire podcasting community by suing Adam Carolla. The way that patent suits work is that a) they tend to file in the plaintiff-friendly Eastern District of Texas, where these companies set up “offices”; b) they sue one major player in an industry and try to extract a large settlement from them, because defending these things is very, very expensive; and c) they then use that precedent to go sue others in the business and get similar paydays. It’s a means by which one can make a lot of money without having to actually produce anything (in fact, many of the trolls just buy idle patents for the express purpose of suing big companies). And if they succeed, it can run into millions of dollars, millions that the defendants don’t have.

But it’s one thing — not necessarily a better thing, just one thing — when the suits target big companies. Podcasting is not a big-bucks business, and the pockets are not deep at all. That’s why it’s kind of perplexing that Adam got sued, and that the podcasting industry, such as it is, is being targeted. Nobody’s getting rich on podcasting at this stage; it’s still early, and many if not most podcasts are more hobby than revenue generator. And if these suits succeed, they could choke off the industry before it is an industry. The good thing is that these patents aren’t likely to win in court if the case goes to trial. The bad thing is, to defend against these claims is going to cost a bundle. Like, a million and a half, easy. Which is why they sue, and why many of the cases never get to the trial stage.

Here’s where you can help. Adam has launched a FundAnything crowdfunding campaign to raise money to defend his show against the Personal Audio lawsuit. And he’s enlisting fellow podcasters to join the effort and raise money to pay the lawyers to fight this thing, because if he has to settle or loses, every other podcast will be in the crosshairs. It’s a matter of stopping this before it gets too far. It’s hugely important if you enjoy podcasts like ours on the Nerdist Podcast Network or any others, for that matter. Adam’s making the rounds of podcasts to drum up support — look for him on Nerdist soon — and time is of the essence. If you think podcasters should stand up for their medium and not roll over and pay what amounts to a ransom, it’s time to join the fight.

Go here to donate to the Save Our Podcasts Legal Defense Fund. Yes, there are rewards for pledges, including artwork, t-shirts, caps, VIP tickets to the Liquid Sol Music Festival in Glendale, AZ and a big benefit in Redondo Beach, CA, and more. You don’t have to be a Carolla fan to understand why this is critical for all podcasts.


Oh, that benefit: Adam, Jimmy Kimmel, KROQ’s Kevin and Bean, Marc Maron, and the Police’s Andy Summers with his band Circa Zero will be performing on March 27th at 8 PM at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center. Go buy tickets at

If you’re still unsure, let Adam explain it all to you:

Again, go here to donate to the Save Our Podcasts Legal Defense Fund and help end the threat.

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