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Acacia Steps Up Content-Transfer Patent Claims 184

Posted by timothy
from the you-can't-make-up-or-distribute-this-stuff dept.
MarkRH writes "Over at ExtremeTech we've got an in-depth story on the 20-odd suits being filed against the online porn industry by Acacia Research Corp., which has been previously covered on Slashdot. Now, several online porn companies are forming an association called IMPA (the 'Internet Media Protective Association'). We sat in on conference calls held by the industry, and interviewed Acacia executives. Bottom line: the porn industry is just the beginning."
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Acacia Steps Up Content-Transfer Patent Claims

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  • mm.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by seann (307009) <notaku@gmail.com> on Monday December 16, 2002 @06:49PM (#4902104) Homepage Journal
    Is there anything porn Can't do?
    Fight the government, clean the tubes, sounds like a full day for me.
    • Re:mm.. (Score:5, Funny)

      by binaryDigit (557647) on Monday December 16, 2002 @07:06PM (#4902316)
      clean the tubes

      I know this will get mod'ed off topic, but what the hell, I have karma to burn

      That statement reminds me of a joke (apologies to our foreign friends if you don't get it)

      A guy was at the hospital getting ready to get a vasectomy. He was in a sour mood knowing the fate that was about to befall him. After removing his clothes and donning his hospital gown, he was lead by a nurse down the halls of the hospital to go to see the doctor how was to perform the procedure. On the way down the hall, he happened to glance into a room. In that room he saw several attractive nurses giving BJ's to the male patients. "Holy Cow, what's going on in there" he asked. The nurse calmly replied that those men were also getting vasectomies, and that as a pre-surgery procedure, they want to make sure that the mans plumbing was clear of any semen. Now his demeanour picked right up and his pace quickened down the hallway. He then happened to glance another room, and in this room there were several men in gowns holding Playboys while jacking off. "What is going on in there?" he asked puzzled. The nurse replied, "Oh, the same thing, but they belong to an HMO."
      • Re:mm.. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by dirvish (574948) <dirvish@foundnew3.14s.com minus pi> on Monday December 16, 2002 @07:40PM (#4902628) Homepage Journal
        Why do you think the internet is as succesful as it is? PORN! Why do you think pay-per-view exists? PORN! Porn gets most forms of media going.
        • Re:mm.. (Score:3, Interesting)

          by JWSmythe (446288)
          Exactly. Would such large lines be running all over the world if we didn't have lots of data to transmit? If it was just Email, and light web usage, T1's would still be the norm.. But adult content has always been a strong driving point. In the next couple weeks, we'll be putting our composite bandwidth graph up on our front page. We peak at between 800Mb/s and 1Gb/s daily.. The only other sites that do anything like that are warez and mp3 sites.. Of course, there are the isolated exception..

          But, porn has completely pushed the Internet to what it is now. Just like getting VCR's and DVD players into the home.. DVD's were first seriously released for home viewing porn. Then places like Blockbuster started carrying movies on DVD..

          People don't like talking about it, but it's the truth. And yes, you're absolutely right about PPV.. They were doing PPV movies for long before they started doing regular movies.. And still any cable provider's service includes adult movies.. They don't even have to advertise it, and people still spend lots of money on it..

          I love this business. Meet hot women, work with the best technology.. I don't think working anywhere else I'd be ordering 1Gb/s fiber into cabinets all over the country. I wouldn't just say "Ok, 10 more servers for that site", and have them en-route in a couple days.. Voyeurweb.com is retiring some of our old servers, and putting new ones up this week. Yippie.

  • there seems to be something simply wrong with an alliance in the porn industry.....the Christian right is gonna have a fit. might make for some entertaining news...


    rainman
  • It's ironic... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonvmous Coward (589068) on Monday December 16, 2002 @06:53PM (#4902148)
    ... Ironic to me at least. The MPAA claims that video over the net has to be locked up in a chastity belt in order to survive. Yet, the porn industry has been able to thrive even in a highly saturated market.

    It'd suck if this caused a damaging blow to the porn industry. It's probably the best proof out there that the internet *is* a place where people can make money with content without having to use DRM.
    • "It'd suck if this caused a damaging blow to the porn industry."

      Couldn't help it...
    • Re:It's ironic... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by b0r1s (170449)
      It'd suck if this caused a damaging blow to the porn industry. It's probably the best proof out there that the internet *is* a place where people can make money with content without having to use DRM.

      Nice claim, but the porn industry does, to some extent, employ DRM in many of the video content they allow to be downloaded.

      There are video (porn) files floating around that can only be played a certain number of times (Windows media, not MPEG or AVI), and can not be played after being burned.
    • Re:It's ironic... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by sys$manager (25156) on Monday December 16, 2002 @07:09PM (#4902350)
      From what I've heard, the porn industry isn't thriving. Three companies control almost all of the Internet porn and everyone else barely breaks even, if that.
      • Re:It's ironic... (Score:4, Informative)

        by JWSmythe (446288) <<moc.ehtymswj> <ta> <ehtymswj>> on Monday December 16, 2002 @09:25PM (#4903580) Homepage Journal
        Not really. It's just hard to start as a nobody and do well.. There are a lot of big companies that do very well, and lots of small companies that do pretty good. Well, if you consider a few million/year take-home satisfactory.

        If you're really interested, there's a convention twice a year, where most of the big providers have booths, and lots of people, ranging from talent (read, lots of hot girls), to webmasters (anyone with a site) show up and talk business.

        The convention is InterNext [internext-expo.com] The last one was in Miami a few months ago. The next one is at the "Sans Expo Center", in Las Vegas. Jan 6 - 8 . Admission for 3 days is $275 . It's well worth it if you want to try this as a business, even if you aren't producing your own content.. It's a good way to get familiar with content providers and billing companies.. Or, if you have your own girls and make your own content, bring them, and meet the people that will pay you for your content.

        I'll be there. I'll be hard to spot though. I'll be the well dressed guy with a couple hot girls hanging on me the whole time.. :)

        Oh, porn is a tough industry.. :) People make good money. If they didn't, people wouldn't be coming to the convention like they do. It costs a few bucks to bring a bunch of employees to Vegas, put them up in the good hotels for a few days, and all..

        The people that Don't do well are the ones that put up really lame sites with a few pictures stolen from newsgroups, and expect to make a bundle.. You have to have something people want to spend money on. If you don't, they won't buy..
          • If you're really interested, there's a convention twice a year, where most of the big providers have booths, and lots of people, ranging from talent (read, lots of hot girls), to webmasters (anyone with a site) show up and talk business.


          So your saying that if I wanted to get rid of all of those "xxxhot donkey sex actionxxx" spam messages in my inbox, that that convention would be the place to go postal at?
    • Re:It's ironic... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ryochiji (453715) on Monday December 16, 2002 @08:09PM (#4902943) Homepage
      >Yet, the porn industry has been able to thrive even in a highly saturated market.

      You don't ever mess with the porn industry. And the MPAA knows that.

      I'm serious. The porn industry has proven itself to be vital in propogation of new technologies. Whether it's the internet, "rich content" or cable TV, the porn industry has always lead the industry at large. Killing the porn industry is equivalent to technological suicide.

      • Re:It's ironic... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Mac Degger (576336)
        Speaking of innovation, Private (a pron company in germany, denmark or somewhere in that geographic region) has announced the launch of their new magazine...on a flash card! Some words, some video...dunno how much it costs, but talk about innovation on you Palm :) (well, clie, more likely, but I couldn't resist :) )
    • [i]The MPAA claims that video over the net has to be locked up in a chastity belt in order to survive.[/i]

      That's because the porn industry views chastity belts as mere temporary impediments to delivering the goods.
    • "The MPAA claims that video over the net has to be locked up in a chastity belt in order to survive. Yet, the porn industry has been able to thrive even in a highly saturated market."

      On the other hand, the MPAA has a much greater financial investment per film. If major motion pictures operated on porn-level budgets, would most geeks still be really looking forward to "The Two Towers" or "The Matrix Reloaded"?

      • Re:It's ironic... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Sleepy (4551)
        >If major motion pictures operated on porn-level budgets, would most geeks still be really looking forward to "The Two Towers" or "The Matrix Reloaded"?

        I'd say a qualified "yes". Many of my favorite all-time sci-fi movies were done on shoestring budgets: Logan's Run, Farenheit 451, Soylent Green , the first Star Wars, The Blob, Godzilla, etc.

        Sure, these are old classics, but for their time they were CHEAP.

        Today, the big cinema chains won't carry it if it doesn't have a huge budget. The independents are gone except for in a few large cities. Now instead of sci-fi for the "bookworms", we get sci-fi for the "Happy Meal, Walmart Crowd" (Independence Day, Jurrasic Park, Men In Black, any post-SW EP4 Lucas movie ;-)

        My old-fashioned thinking is, the Matrix or any other movie can be great on a shoestring budget if it makes you THINK.
        • "I'd say a qualified "yes". Many of my favorite all-time sci-fi movies were done on shoestring budgets: Logan's Run, Farenheit 451, Soylent Green , the first Star Wars, The Blob, Godzilla, etc."

          Those movies were only on shoestring budgets by motion picture standards.

          (Figures from IMDB)
          Star Wars -- $11 million
          Logan's Run -- $9 million
          The Blob (1988) -- $8.247 million
          The Blob (1958) -- $240,000
          Fahrenheit 451 -- No budget listed
          Soylent Green -- No budget listed
          Godzilla, King of the Monsters! -- No budget listed

          A quick google on "average budget" "porn film", turns up a figure that the average porn budget is $25,000 (article here [ifmagazine.com]). That means, by porn budget standards, even the 1958 version of The Blob is a mega blockbuster. Star Wars and Logan's Run are off the charts.

          Now I agree with you that there's more to a movie than just its budget. If nothing else, Waterworld ($175 million wasted) proves that point. However, even though money doesn't make the movie, it's hard to make a movie -- even a simple, story-driven one -- without money. And attempting to make regular movies on a porn budget would be a lose-lose scenario for everyone. Yes, there'd be less cases of the MPAA exercises its (hotly contested, at least on Slashdot) rights, but that's because there'd be no reason to -- the bulk of what would be available would be comparable to what's currently freely available on sites like ifilm.com.

      • "The Two Towers" sounds like a gay film, so many geeks probably are not interested. "The Matrix Reloaded" sounds like it has potential, maybe a gangbang film. So as porn films, geeks are probably 50-50 split.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 16, 2002 @06:55PM (#4902165)
    --contact the big guys yourself. If these guys get an court settlement test cases in their favor, it's going to cost a lot of the big guys serious folding money to fight the case themselves. whereas-if you can convince them to help you fight your relatively small case NOW, they can potentially save BIG BUCKS later. That's the best idea I can think of right now. These guys are fishing, but they will start taking people to court, and bet a nickle that they have a tame judge's area picked out where to file in. That's just a logic train, in war, the dude who picks the battle and terrain and goes first has the upper hand right off the bat. I haven't looked at any of the patents yet though, so no idea if their claims have any merit, but potentially this is bigger than the e-commerce patent fights if what they say is true. Just think of real player and quicktime and windows media player stuff, it would appear that all of those efforts are in violation potentially. I mean, transmitting digital content on wires? Say whut? That's a very, very broad avenue for "the internet". You might have difficulty though seeing as how you have a porn site, could be none of the big guys would want to be seen publically as "in favor of" your ....uhhh... artistic efforts on the net. In that case, seek contributions from like minded webmasters and hosts from this "industry" that will be similarly affected. There's thousands of them, a few bucks apiece donated might be prudent.

    I imagine all these parties have employees who read slashdot, so they will see this thread. good luck.
    • It seems the above post [slashdot.org] is redundant [slashdot.org]. Zogger said it well.

      Most large US companies are already involved in porn. No, I'm not just talking about Disney purchasing small art house film makers. I'm talking about big finincail institutions such as GE Finance, GM and others having interests in porn. It does not bother them now.

  • The bright side (Score:3, Insightful)

    by banzai51 (140396) on Monday December 16, 2002 @06:55PM (#4902168) Journal
    In aggregate, these guys should have the money to defeat these 'patent' claims.
    • Not only that but the porn people will have all of the big media companys on their side.

      I wonder if Acacia will sue the ad companies that use Flash for ads?
      A patent for downloading (transmitting) multimedia is dumber than the BT hyperlink patent. I wonder if it includes FTP servers?

  • Geezz... A guy can't sit in the privacy in his own home and watch porn and plan terriorst attacks on third world nations in peace anymore. Next they'll copy protect all my DVDs, wire tap the internet, and install the same operating system on every PCs.

    *pisssstt*"They are all ready doing that."

    D'Oh!

  • Organize! (Score:5, Funny)

    by L. VeGas (580015) on Monday December 16, 2002 @06:57PM (#4902191) Homepage Journal
    They need to form alliances with sister organizations such as the International Petroleum Jelly Manufacturing Consortium and the Repetitive Stress Disorder Sufferer's Association.
  • Brilliant move (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lightspawn (155347) on Monday December 16, 2002 @06:58PM (#4902205) Homepage
    This company is looking to legitimize the patent by going after the shady companies which as we all know are destroying the immortal souls of kids everywhere. How can you not love them? They're fighting to keep your kids safe from nipples!

    Now they'll have the parents and politicans and whatever on their side, and perhaps somehow make people believe that going along with this patent scheme is great for the moral future of a terrorist-free America... and then there would be no reason not to go after fortune 500 companies which don't much care for lawsuits but have enough money to license any patent, no matter how preposteriorous.
    • from the article, "they are making a war-chest" by going after smaller companies first, adding to their supposed $65 million in cash, then going after larger content providers such as AOL TW.

      Of course most people are going to get owned b/c the $1500 is far less than lawyer fees... AOL will just tell them to bug off unless of course the "war-chest" grows to astronomical proportions.

      The arguement that these patents were filed before the office "knew what to do w/them" are ridiculous. I seriously hope they have a better protection scheme than that.
    • going after the smut providers certainly was a brillinat move. Normally, the big fish would consider helping out the small fish who are being raped first, but because AOLTW and their ilk can't be seen to be 'promoting porn,' they can't help the small fish.

      How do we convince people that patent abuse funds international terrorism?

    • We like to pretend that we don't like the porn industry, but the fact is that every swinging dick above the age of 15 has enjoyed pornography, and most continue to do so for the entirity of their lives. They just don't tell their wives.

      There aren't many better non-violent ways to piss off all the men than to go after their porn.
    • If no one can find prior art, this patent #5,253,275 [uspto.gov] looks pretty good. It seems that it covers not only streaming and buffered play, but things like Tivo and Replay TV.

      On the other hand, I can't believe there's no prior art, since it was filed April 2, 1992.

      Surely someone here on /. was involved with some kind of interactive, buffered TV project before then. Maybe the MIT Media Lab's Advanced Television Workshop?

      C'mon... everyone... start digging and maybe we can find the prior art that's needed to invalidate this thing.
    • I doubt it will happen this way. Not everyone is as stupid as you are claiming them to be. Most of these people will realise that they could be next if they even have 1 streamed file (such as, but not limited to, a church that has mp3 of the sermons to listen to on the net). These people won't stand side-by-side with the porn industry, but they will not support Acacia either. They'll probably wait it out
  • I thought the porn industry had already united under the Organization for Regulating Growth and Youth protection.
  • All right ..... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by binaryDigit (557647) on Monday December 16, 2002 @06:59PM (#4902222)
    now we get to side with the pR0n industry. I guess lame ass patents transcend most of the normal things that the average /.'er dislikes (M$, Sony, et al).

    When is the USPTO going to realize that there is a significant problem with patents and how they are applied to technology and do a major overhaul of the entire system. Is there a group that is working on getting this pushed through?
    • Re:All right ..... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JonWan (456212)
      When did Slashdotters NOT support the porno industry?

      Remember this is the "Patent it all and let the courts sort it out" U.S. Patent Office you are talking about.
  • "Now, several online porn companies are forming an association called IMPA (the 'Internet Media Protective Association')

    Is this the anti-RIAA group?
    Maybe we can get an expansion of this group from a couple of seedy websites to include such illustrious sites as Censorware.org. Too bad Censorware.org is still being held by someone named Micheal in a bitter disputer between this Michael and everyone else in the old Censorware.org group.
  • this is a blow to porn industry!

    Now they have to transfer the movies thru the "traditional" way. Video tapes, and DVDs
  • by dfn5 (524972) on Monday December 16, 2002 @07:03PM (#4902271) Journal
    Now, several online porn companies are forming an association called IMPA (the 'Internet Media Protective Association').

    It should've been Protecting Internet Media Porn. I wonder if there is still time to change it.

  • by Arcturax (454188) on Monday December 16, 2002 @07:03PM (#4902275)
    Only I wonder who will be getting the said "offer". After all, organized crime is increasingly involved with internet porn, especially pay sites.

    So Acacia may just get a lil visit from da boys if they keep this up and sent a bill to the wrong people.

    In this case, we can only hope that is what happens.
  • I forsee in five years World War III will start as a feud between warring organizations. IMPA, RIAA, and MPAA will start a colossal flame war online against each other that will result in full scale nuclear annihilation. I mean, if these people are capable of doing everything they claim, then what's a few nukes?!
  • by MadAnthony02 (626886) on Monday December 16, 2002 @07:07PM (#4902319) Homepage

    During the adult industry's conference call, lawyers expressed hope that these media giants might provide "back channel" support, such as the results of previous "prior art" searches in an attempt to defeat the Acacia patents.

    Hmm... provide back channel support support to the porn industry.

    Also, you realize this means someone at Arcadia had the job of looking at porn sites to track down sites to sue? Get paid to surf porn. That's my dream job. Plus if they win, they get to audit the porn companies

    • Get paid to surf porn. That's my dream job. Plus if they win, they get to audit the porn companies

      Note that you can't be choosey. You would have to also audit gay porn, poop fetishes, and goatse-like fetish places.

      You still game?.....Hello?

  • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday December 16, 2002 @07:07PM (#4902327)
    Some bright young upstart that owns an American company filed a patent for "evacuation of liquid into a self cleaning porcelain container".

    I had the misfortune to ask them where the bathroom was since I was desperate for a piss.

    The lawsuit is going to take ages! I can't wait that long!

    If I piss myself I'll have to pay for a licence to wash my trousers at the laundromat else I'll be in violation of the "clean garments by watching them spin round and round in a drum with hydrogen dioxide and sodium sterate" patent.

    In soviet russia, I wouldn't have this problem I'm sure.

    Do they piss on me there?
  • by Paul Johnson (33553) on Monday December 16, 2002 @07:08PM (#4902340) Homepage
    The traditional media industries are not going to like this one little bit. At present Acacia is going after what they call "low hanging fruit", because in cases like this its often the bigger legal budget that wins. Once Acacia has some money and precedents under its belt it can tackle the bigger boys.

    It seems to me that the fruit higher up should see how this is going to go. If they don't hang together they will assuredly all hang separately.

    Paul.

    • by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Monday December 16, 2002 @07:22PM (#4902472)
      I'm surprised that Acacia actually seems to have the balls to go through with their threats to bring this to court. It would only take one ruling that the patent is overly broad and inapplicable to ruin their business plan forever.

      Threatening to sue is a great way to make money, because there's very little expense and great potential for return involved. (It's like a meatspace equivalent to email spamming.)

      But actually suing people is a much more risky business plan. You can never be sure that the men and women on the jury are going to act in the best interest of your bottom line.
      • "But actually suing people is a much more risky business plan. You can never be sure that the men and women on the jury are going to act in the best interest of your bottom line."

        Ask Rambust. The little IP company that could (sue) went after everyone who wanted to produce DDR, and ended up with the judge in the case that was initiated BY THEM ruling them guilty of fraud...

      • I'm surprised that Acacia actually seems to have the balls to go through with their threats to bring this to court. It would only take one ruling that the patent is overly broad and inapplicable to ruin their business plan forever.

        We have not seen anything more than the demand letters so far.

        Taking the case to court is going to be massively risky, but it seems very unlikely that all the victims will pay up.

        There is pretty solid prior art. The Compuserve Gif format predates the patent by many years. The earliest browsers were pre-1991 and would display images by means of a pop-up window.

        There were plenty of other hypertext systems that had the same basic mechanism in a non-networked sense. At its coarsest you could even argue that Prestel had a multimedia delivery system.

  • how can we lose?
  • The Porn industry has lots of money to defend itself with.

    • But the porn industry money is not in the hands of five mega-companies like the mass media industry is. Therefore, companies are being sued one-by-one and each company has to decide whether it is worth it to risk everything on a lawsuit defense.

      Worst of all, the defense organization is charging members exactly the same fees they'd pay if they just give up... they save no money by fighting this, and only risk losing and being bankrupted. It's a hard call for the individual owners to make.
  • by Dark Lord Seth (584963) on Monday December 16, 2002 @07:10PM (#4902368) Journal

    I can already imagine the following:

    • 10: **AA sues Acacia for distributing the technology which allows copyright infringement.
    • 20: Acacia sues the **AA for allowing artists to use media types they own a patent on.
    • 30: GOTO 10
  • It's a multi BILLION dollar industry. Some of the porn companies have piles of cash that are too large to shake a stick at.

    And they have lawyers.

    Bye bye, Acacia.. heh. Smacked down like a little bitch in "Bob's Bondage Barn Volume 95"
    • Some of the porn companies have piles of cash that are too large to shake a stick at.
      OK, at least one poster has said that porn companies are barely holding their own, and more that one has said they're rolling in the dough. Anyone have any facts?
      • Anyone have any facts?

        On slashdot? Not likely. Try facts-r-us [factsrus.com].

      • OK, at least one poster has said that porn companies are barely holding their own, and more that one has said they're rolling in the dough. Anyone have any facts?

        The only publicly traded company I can find that deals in pornography is Playboy Enterprises (NYSE:PLA). Revenues this year are expected to be $272 million, of which $34 million are profits after expenses. $34M makes nice walking around money but is not whopping loads of cash in the corporate world. And Playboy Enterprises is HUGE compared to an internet outfit with some women in front of webcams. Since those aren't publicly traded, no hard numbers are available. However, I think we can safely assume that the outfits selling cheap videos and internet subscriptions, while obviously profitable, are not quite so flush with funds as some people think.
      • Here's an article from Time 1998 talking about revenues of $4.2Billion with vivid videos having annual revenue of over $25 million here [216.239.53.100]

        My guess is these are not small fish but more medium sized fish. They may or may not be able to fight it out with these guys but anything smaller would not be worth the time/risk to their patents.
  • A telling quote (Score:5, Informative)

    by EschewObfuscation (146674) on Monday December 16, 2002 @07:12PM (#4902394) Journal
    [From the article]


    "What we did before we purchased the company (Greenwich) was to spend considerable time and resources evaluating this portfolio as to whether we think these patents are valid and whether they are enforceable," Berman said. "We did several prior art searches... It was important to go to the marketplace knowing what we had was valid."
    [snip]
    "We're not willing to put anyone out of business; we're not looking to change anyone's behavior," Berman said. "If people feel that this is something they need to challenge in court, fine. But if they challenge this in court, 75 percent of the people will likely spend more in court fees than they'll spend in royalties to us. If they're successful, they'll recoup those fees. If they're not successful" Berman shrugged.


    Really says it all, doesn't it? That's the strategy of all of these patent claims: Comapnies that can handle the fees will settle because it is easier, and possibly cheaper. Companies that cannot will either simply bow out without firing a shot, or will be outspent by the now successfully revenue generating lawsuit machine. Plus, although a company settling and agreeing to play the patent fee doesn't set a legal precedent, it has to sway the courts somewheat if the lawers can argue that N multi-million dollar corporations are paying the fees.

    I for one hope the adult companies fight this one and win. If they do, perhaps people will stop buying these absurd patents solely for the revenue lawsuits can generate.
    • Funny how Ben Stein in his "how America is losing its technological edge" piece was so busy being a fluff-job for the same tired old big-business agenda and cranky curmudgeonry and somehow managed to miss that the biggest threat to technological innovation could be the patent system.
  • How many companies does this make that own all technology involved in the internet? At least 50. Why can't they sue each other, decide who holds the valid patents, and THEN sue websites.
  • This kind of stuff scares the hell out of me. Between 'loosly defined' patent enforcement and lawsuits [brinkster.net] that exist just to pay lawyers. This is the kinda stuff George Orwell warned you about (I dont think even he saw this comming).

    Having a hard time taking down you local dictatorship? Try taking one down thats got laywers instead of militia.
  • by User 956 (568564) on Monday December 16, 2002 @07:14PM (#4902405) Homepage
    Looks like we found the answer to today's Ask Slashdot:

    Sometimes it appears like the U.S. is losing its edge in technology. Well, I was wondering what the Slashdot community at large thinks is wrong (or right) with the U.S. and technological innovation?"
    • Well, we could put 5000 lawyers at the bottom of the sea, but PanIP or Acadia probably owns the patent on cloning laywers so it'd be tough to win a conclusive victory that way.
    • Both patent and copyright laws need to be reformed... stat.
    • "Looks like we found the answer to today's Ask Slashdot:
      Sometimes it appears like the U.S. is losing its edge in technology. Well, I was wondering what the Slashdot community at large thinks is wrong (or right) with the U.S. and technological innovation?" "

      Yep. Out of control trial lawyers and antiquated tort laws are consuming innovation in this country. It's not a coincidence that the trial lawyers are the biggest contributor to one of the two major parties (Democrats).

      Lawsuits are supposed to be remedies for those who actually suffer HARM because of the misdeeds of others. Instead, they've become a means of wealth redistrobution---to lawyers.

      The legal industry does not generate wealth and income, it consumes it.

  • Others said the industry would not go down without a fight. "If we paid Acacia, it would be rolling over," said one adult webmistress in an interview, who asked not to be named. "It would be like saying 'Screw me,' even though that's (what) my business is about."

    You tell em.. they are gonna have to pry Jenna Jameson out of my warm greasy hand!

  • this kinda stupid (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dylan_t_p (630258) on Monday December 16, 2002 @07:18PM (#4902437) Homepage Journal

    Thing is IF they were to win this battle (acacia not the porn industry) where would they drawn the line? So many differnt people acording to their claims are infringing on their patents Nasa [nasa.gov] for one, all major internet news sources stream content over the internet too so where do you stop? Do you sue the government for infringing on your patents? Take down the news Media? This is a pretty good example of why the government should do some major changes on how patents work so they don't get abused like this.

    Anyways thats my two cents let the down-modding begin
  • WTF? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wideBlueSkies (618979)
    >>Online porn providers represent an ideal target, executives at Acacia say

    Why, because they're profitable?

    Not that I agree with Arcadia's belief that it owns those patents, but they shouldn't be single-ing out a particular industry. They should be going after everyone, not just the adult firms.

    It sounds like gold-digging to me. Perhaps they should wait until their patent claims are considered legally valid before they try to strong arm anyone.
  • by SirSlud (67381) on Monday December 16, 2002 @07:25PM (#4902503) Homepage
    http://www.lectlaw.com/def/l056.htm

    or better

    http://www.zurichre-na.com/web/converium/converi um .nsf/articles/5731FF9F4372B6ED85256B43006EA07D?Ope nDocument

    Esentially, if you knew about it in 91, you can't wait till now to go after royalties.

    This might be one of those Vapor-Laws that money speaks louder than, however.

    Everybody read those links, because these submarine patents are bullshit and the more noise the public makes about them, the less likely Acadia, Pan IP, and every other non-innovative lawyer on the planet are to think they can get aware with this bullshit.
  • by Shenkerian (577120) on Monday December 16, 2002 @07:26PM (#4902509)
    In Soviet Russia, you fuck the patent owners.

    I'm all for that.
  • by dark-nl (568618)
    From the article: "[...] the lawsuits represent a bet-the-company proposition."

    If they lose this, then it's game over for Acacia and a victory for the human race.

  • Talk about broad (Score:3, Interesting)

    by afidel (530433) on Monday December 16, 2002 @07:46PM (#4902695)
    This portfolio of patents make business patents like one click seem exact and concrete by comparison. Basically these guys talk about any digital video on demand which is an idea not an invention and certainly not something worthy of a patent, especially not as late as 1992. One interesting thing from a laymans POV is how they are very generic as to the specifics of implementation except in claim 23.

    The distribution method as recited in claim 19, wherein the step of storing includes the step of storing the received information at the head end of a cable television reception system.

    It seems to me this limits their patent to VOD systems for a cable company or in room service not distribution over a distributed network (or heck a network of any kind). I don't claim to be a patent expert but how can a patent this broad apply if all of the claims do not apply? I mean if individual claims can stand on their own then there are some broad quantum computer patents I need to file!
  • Just two threads ago was a discussion of how America is losing it's technological edge. I think idiocy like this, and PanIP, and others of their ilk is going to kill our tech edge faster than anything else.
  • by harangutan (315386) on Monday December 16, 2002 @08:02PM (#4902865)
    For a decade now we've heard free-market proselytes yap about how business will bring new innovations to the internet. But in practice what have we seen? The principal technologies in use are still those created largely academically and under research grants (some in partnership with very select members of the private sector, granted).

    But principally what business has brought to the table is greed, squabbling and massively costly litigation, which far from encouraging innovation, increasingly inhibits it through fear and intimidation.

    At the risk of overstating the case, I do think this is a further example of market forces alone being very far from the wholly benign influence they're so often touted as being.
    • by bnenning (58349) on Monday December 16, 2002 @08:58PM (#4903375)
      At the risk of overstating the case, I do think this is a further example of market forces alone being very far from the wholly benign influence they're so often touted as being.


      Note that idiocies like this are only possible because the Patent Office, a government agency, has displayed spectacular incompetence. Intellectual property is a government granted monopoly, and when it is abused there's almost always plenty of blame to be shared by both the public and private sector.

  • Taking about going after the "low hanging fruit" is probably not the best choice of words for an article about porn sites. It took me a minute to realize what they really mean.
  • ...or one of their subsidiaries. [combimatrix.com]. If Acacia as a whole is half as fucked as that bunch of circus clowns, they'll be delisted Real Soon Now.



    This sounds like action on thier Media Services group, which is basicaly a bunch of patent mongoring whore lawers.

  • I'm serious.

    The government has no interest in encouraging pornographic innovation. The first amendment may require that we tolerate pornography, but what does it say about us as a society when we actually *subsidize* the creation of pornography by handing out government monopolies for innovative pornographic techniques and content?

    The framers were silent on this question, so I say it's time for action: Ban all pornovation! Eliminate all intellectual property protections for pornographic materials and watch what happens:

    - The money will go away because you can't make a profit without ip monopolies

    - when the money goes away production will cease

    - when production drops, prices will rise intolerably and consumers will find pornography too expensive for their budgets

    Simple economics proves that just like the software industry, intellectual property laws are the only thing keeping the hard-core porn industry afloat.

    And BANG, just like that, overnight we'll eliminate the scourge of pornography. It's time to take action against pornovation!

  • Prior art (Score:5, Interesting)

    by afidel (530433) on Monday December 16, 2002 @08:36PM (#4903180)
    might be here ? [google.com]

    This is a message from 1989 talking about a talk by FCC chairman re: cable vs telco and what things might be possible.

    For consumers, the promised land would be video on demand" - no need to rent tapes or wait for the network to schedule a particular program. One-way broadband delivery coupled with 2-way narrowband signalling thus might be the way such systems would start off.

  • Why Porn? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spoonboy42 (146048) on Monday December 16, 2002 @08:51PM (#4903307)
    It strikes me as odd, at least from a logical perspective, that Arcacia would try to "enforce" their patents by first going after online porn. It would make infinitely more sense if they went after the actual "infringers": namely, the companies producing streaming audio and video software. Going after Real, Apple (QT), M$ (WMP), and the like would have more legal validity, since webcasters purchase technology from these companies that they assume is legal... If any illegal goings on were happening, it stands to reason that the streaming media software providers would be the target.

    Of course, there's a pretty shady reason why Acacia is going after porn first: A lot of people, particularly in the judicial system, have very little sympathy for pornographers. They will, at least subconciously, be much more receptive to the image of pornographers as "criminals", since they already consider them evil.

    If they win their suits against the porn distributors, though, they have a legal precedent for hitting all kinds of companies, including the software providers (presumably where the money is), as well as anybody who delivers multimedia over the internet. So, the social conservatives who might hand down a token judgement against porn will be in the awkward position of setting a precedent to sue, say, a church that delivers sermons streaming over the Internet.

    As with a lot of civil liberties issues, pornography is the frontier of freedom in this case. Many civil libertarians (myself included, since I'm also a feminist) probably wouldn't mind if porn suddenly disappeared. The problem is, if we legislate or judicate against pornography, then we set a very dangerous precedent for harrassing all kinds of expression (usually based on an arbitrary definition of morality, but in this case, purely economic reasons). Additionally, it's really none of my or the state's business what consenting adults do in front of a video camera. Anyway, even if you find pornography morally repugnant, it's still worth defending, when you consider what happens if we allow freedom of expression to erode at its very edge: the erosion spreads to radical political views, then alternative religious beliefs, and so on, eventually leaving a homogenous orthodoxy of ideas. Or, in this case, you simply have a parasite on the patent system getting in the way of people doing business, expressing themselves, and innovating.
  • Good Quotes (Score:2, Funny)

    by dcuny (613699)
    • Others said the industry would not go down without a fight. "If we paid Acacia, it would be rolling over," said one adult webmistress in an interview, who asked not to be named. "It would be like saying 'Screw me,' even though that's (what) my business is about."
    How can you beat a quote like that?
  • Notorious (Score:2, Funny)

    by dcuny (613699)
    ...owned by notorious First Amendement supporter and pornographer Larry Flynt.

    I give up. Is he notorious because he's a pornographer, or because he supports the First Amendment.

    Where's the funny part?

  • I think I remember reading about this company a couple of years ago. They had some 'revolutionary video transmission system' that turned out to be a hidden coax cable. Does anyone else remember this?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 16, 2002 @10:26PM (#4904071)
    We've been doing video on the net since the 1970's - ARPAnet based audio/video transfer has been working ever since the days when SRI drove a van up and back on US 101 near Palo Alto doing packet radio based streaming multimedia.

    The patents never cited that work, perhaps because doing so would have been inconvenient.

    We all can thank Bruce "I'm for sale" Lehman of the US Patent and Trademark office under whose term the idea that a patent, no matter how bad or how uncreative, wouldn't be issued to a paying "customer" was a kind of institutional anathama.
  • No wait. I thought I did. Then I realized, where the hell am I going to find a disgruntled Postal worker who lives near Acacia's home office?
  • Really?

    Is there a lawyer in the house?

    Can't they just file a motion to have the case dismissed?

    Can't the lawyers for the defense just say something along the lines of "This patent suit is being filed only against small companies, because it's frivolous and they hope we'll settle out of court."

    Shit like this should be illegal. It should be considered extortion and these guys should go to jail.

    What can the porn guys sue these jerks for? There's gotta be something. Something that will allow them to put this company under, and convince a lawyer to take their case just so he could get x% of the winnings for an afternoon's work.
  • What the hell? I was downloading porn from BBS's back in 1982. Sure, much of it were 7-bit ASCII graphics, but heck, it was digital content transferred over an information channel... Dang, where did I put those CP/M 5.25" floppies with them text files?

    I had it good. I even had a daisy wheel that provided better looking output then them cheap 7 pin dot matrix text with no descenders.

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