In a recent AVN poll, 80% of the responding webmasters don’t care or even know about the Acacia patent issue. For those of you that have not been following the online news or the various industry message boards, I will present a summary of the issues and some possible actions.
Acacia Research Corporation subsidiary Acacia Media Technologies Corporation acquired several patents and then filed additional patents for the concept of "streaming audio and media".
The US Patent Office granted the first patent in 1991 with subsequent additional patents since then. Their set of patents is best illustrated by their own presentation.
Their patents were broadly written, and cover the following process: Any type of content (image, audio, video, text, etc) that is digitized with some kind of compression, then stored on a server, with retrieval through satellite, phone lines (including the Internet), and allowing playback on a PC.
Their "invention" was based on the idea that back then, it would take too long to have to wait for a video tape of some footage to be received via mail or by picking it up. They looked into their crystal ball and saw the future. They believed that the digital means of distributing video footage would be novel and allow people in remote locations to view previously recorded material on a personal computer.
The US Patent Office thought this was an original idea and granted them the patent. It was not until 2002 that Acacia popped on to the scene by informing Adult webmasters that they must pay them a license fee (based on a percentage of gross revenue) or be sued to shutdown. Those that were served the papers felt that the idea of patenting "streaming audio and video" was outrageous, but having already been awarded the patents, fighting Acacia is a battle that can only be won through litigation in the courts.
If you are still wondering “How does this affect me if I have audio or video clips on my website?”
Then here’s the most direct answer: If you have any audio or video clips on your website, you are in violation of Acacia’s claims on a set of patents, and they have been granted protection by the US (and European) Government to keep people from using their patented ideas – which means that you cannot legally distribute digitized audio/video files from your site without paying them a license fee.
If you still don’t believe this, read their patents and read the message boards, this is for real!
But is there nothing that adult Webmasters can do to fight Acacia’s patent claims? Or should we all just pull out our checkbooks? Stay tuned!
Brandon has taken up Internet Activism by starting the FightThisPatent.com website to provide awareness and information concerning patent issues that affect webmasters. He also volunteers his time and talents to ASACP.org, an organization focused on removing Child Pornography websites from the Internet.