Warning: Links are not work safe.
AVNOnline.com published this little exchange last week between me and Acacia's General Counsel over the balance between Acacia's supposed patent rights to all streaming media vs. the public's rights to use technology for free expression. A pretty clear example of the divide between high protectionists and those fighting for the public domain:
Acacia executive vice president Robert Berman said he found it interesting that the EFF is interested in preserving some rights, like free speech, while being willing to ignore others, like property rights.
"Property rights are as important as the right to free speech," Berman told AVNOnline.com July 6. "For example, if someone broke into your garage and stole your SUV, and put a speaker on the top, and was driving around the neighborhood making some political statement, trying to get your SUV back wouldn't be trying to stifle free speech, it would be you trying to get your property back. If somebody is using your property, you have a right to stop them or receive a license or receive royalties."
That, said EFF staff attorney Jason Schultz, is "possibly the most twisted and contorted analogy I have ever heard," saying it shows Acacia and similar companies – other EFF frivolous patent candidates include Clear Channel, Nintendo, Ideaflood, Firepond, and Acceris – conflate physical property with dreams of intellectual property.
"There's no question now that an SUV in your garage is something you own. But here there's a real question as to whether Acacia actually invented anything new or simply is claiming monopoly on technology that millions of people use every day to express themselves," Schultz told AVNOnline.com.
"And the other thing is, I don't have to break into your garage to steal your SUV to express myself in the physical world. But I can't think of a modern Website, especially news Websites, that don't depend on streaming some kind of audio or video to express themselves on the Web. It has become a fundamental part of free expression online," he continued. "And I would say it has become the predominant method for artists and news organizations to connect to their audiences. [Acacia] doesn't want to own just the SUV, [they] want to own every single automobile and stereo system in the world, to use [their] contorted analogy."