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More on's Patent 91

Charles Bronson sent us a link to a ZDNet story with an Update to the story we posted yesterday about claiming a patent on the sale of downloadable music, and demanding a 1% royalty from Apparently Goodnoise is actually complying!
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More on's Patent

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  • ...but still damn obvious.
  • by cduffy ( 652 )
    If I can document the idea of paying for information transmitted over the network preceding this patent (and I sure as hell can), then the idea of paying for sound or video and it being transferred is trivially obvious.
  • Posted by telephoner:

    The idea of distributing music over telephone lines is as old as the telephone itself.
    When Mr. Bell invented the telephone, he was looking for some interesting things to do with it. One of the main uses he considered, was that people could dial into a kind of music station, and listen to live music or recordings.

    I wouldn't pay them a dime. This patent won't hold up in any decent courtroom.
  • Posted by The [not so] Little Hacker:

    Umm, excuse me, but did you read *both* patents?
    here [] and here [] ??

  • Posted by Emperor Penguin:

    It seems like an end run around all of this silliness would be, to charge for something other than the content, access to the files for example & say you were giving the content away free.

    At least 'till some joker files a patent for retrieving info from a database.
  • *If* this BS patent claim should happen to stand up in a court of law (there have been dumber things that made it), there is an option that I see after reading the patent. The patent specifically controls the transfer of this music for the "first memory" to the "second memory". In this case, it appears that memory is being used as as a synonym for storage space. What if online vendors and customers used a protocol that created a temporary shared memory architecture? Or perhaps even a temporary shared file system? One could conceivable make the case that an SMA operates as a single "memory". The patent certainly doesn't cover transferring the data between multiple homogeneous memory segments.
  • by pb ( 1020 )
    How to pronounce Linux. []

    Oh my god! A sound file available for public download! I never did that over ZMODEM before!

  • Do you have any idea how expensive your idea would be?

  • Just found this article [] on The Register. Civix-DDI says it has some patents on electronic mapping that Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo!, Rand-McNally, Infoseek, Lycos and the Denver Post newspaper are infringing on. Hmm.. I haven't looked up the patents yet so I'm not sure how valid their claims are. I will in a bit if someone doesn't beat me to it.

  • Here are some of my favourite quotes:

    "Digital Audio Music is simly music converted into a very basic computer language know as bnary. A series of commands known as zeros or ones encode the music for future retrieve".

    Commands known as 1's and 0's??? :) :)

    Another golden one:

    "When a song is retrieve from the Hard Disk 60 Only a replica of the permanently stored song is retrieve. The permanently stored song remains intact on the Hard Disk 60, thus allowing repeated playback."

    Imagine that, you can read data from a hard disk and yet STILL have the hard disk store the data!! :)

    It's just sad.. These guys shouldn't be allowed near a patent office.
  • All these idiot who think this patent applies to downloading music didn't read the patent, just CmdrTaco's bad summary of it. The patent specifically applies to on-line payment and fullfillment of on-demand downloads. It doesn't apply to:
    - ftp, because you don't pay for it on-line
    - ISPs, because you pay per hour, not per file.
    The only thing I could think of that *possibly* could count as prior art would be if you could find a Porn BBS or something where you paid per file you downloaded.

    Stop relying on "soundbites" to form your ideas, people - you're *supposed* to be smarter than the average couch potato!
  • From now on everybody who uses TCP/IP has to pay me a cent for every package sent. 5000 packages per day makes 1 $ refund.
    "Thats extremly low" said Bill Mates CEO of Microducks.
    Jeez, I dont feel quite tied to a patent claimed somewhere in the world.
  • We'll make you an offer you can't refuse. We'll offer you protection from your competitors for a small cut and do what ever it takes to make sure you bring us profits. Sounds like they want a close family to me. Patents can be legal extortion. The pen is mightier than the sword.
  • That's extremely low, said Gene Hoffman, president and CEO of GoodNoise. "This has no material affect at all (on our business)," he said, indicating that the fee, at least, would not be a problem.

    In fact, setting the charge so low is a good business decision, he added, as it makes it more likely that the companies would comply. "But it's bad for artists." Hoffman had not seen the letter, and did not know how his company would respond.

    He said he didn't know how they's respond, not that they'd be complying!
  • Both patents only apply to their method, not existing ones. So the idea that this company has a patent on buying stuff with SSL based tech and uploading the music (or video) via HTTP based tech is ludicrous (sp.?) You can't patent a pre-existing algorithm or a general (pre-existing) idea...
  • As I remember they were patenting "the method" (i.e. their method) of allowing people to pay for music or video and then receiving a download of the content the customer paid for.
  • I'm tired of people misquoting the patents and then other people yelling at them. I'm not a lawyer by any means, but let's analyze the patents a little, shall we?

    Abstract from patent US5191573 (files : The present invention is a method for transmitting a desired digital video or audio signal stored on a first memory of a first party to a second memory of a second party. The method comprises the steps of transferring money via a telecommunications line to the first party from the second party. Additionally, the method comprises the step of then connecting electronically via a telecommunications line the first memory with the second memory such that the desired signal can pass therebetween. Next, there is the step of transmitting the desired digital signal from the first memory with a transmitter in control and in possession of the first party to a receiver having the second memory at a location determined by the second party. The receiver is in possession and in control of the second party. There is also the step of then storing the digital signal in the second memory.

  • I'm tired of people misquoting the patents and then other people yelling at them. I'm not a lawyer by any means, but let's analyze the patents a little, shall we?

    Abstract from patent US5191573 (filed in 1990, issued in 1993): The present invention is a method for transmitting a desired digital video or audio signal stored on a first memory of a first party to a second memory of a second party. The method comprises the steps of transferring money via a telecommunications line to the first party from the second party. Additionally, the method comprises the step of then connecting electronically via a telecommunications line the first memory with the second memory such that the desired signal can pass therebetween. Next, there is the step of transmitting the desired digital signal from the first memory with a transmitter in control and in possession of the first party to a receiver having the second memory at a location determined by the second party. The receiver is in possession and in control of the second party. There is also the step of then storing the digital signal in the second memory.

    Now correct me if I'm wrong, but the web was fledgling in 1993 and to my knowledge non-existant in 1990. However, not being an internet user at the time, can anyone tell me a service which offered music for download (and here's the key part) after you paid for it?. People saying that newsgroups or downloading from BBS's are missing the point of the patent completely. The patent does not claim to cover a free music download, merely one where money changes hand and then the audio/video signal is transferred from the server to the client. The only possible problem I see here is the bit about storing it on the client's system. Technically if I use NS, MSIE, lynx, whatever...the 1st party referred to in this patent is not storing the audio/visual signal on the 2nd party's computer per say, but that's a weak point to stand on.

    The other patent was filed for in 1996 and issued in 1997 and seems rather redundant to me, and can in my opinion probably be overruled with prior art seeing as I'm sure some company was selling music online for d/l before 1996.

    I'm not saying that I like the concept of this patent, but please look at what it's actually saying before you go off on tirades.
  • You'd seem to be correct. Although the patent implies sending a credit card number via a comptuer or other similar device, it does not actually explicity state that to be the case, so I guess calling up the BBS and giving them your credit card number would be covered. Thanks for the information, I'm glad we've finally come up with something that seems to be prior art.
  • .. and they sent the letter to .
    So don't blame CmdrTaco for the error, it's mistake then!
    Besides, I can think of prior art like, online databases existed since the late 70's, I don't remember the names.

  • I'll bet you're just saying that; you haven't really patented the binary digits. If you have, please give the relevant patent number that we can look up.

    First, you have to know that I am absolutely not supporting these guys. I think that what they are doing -- claiming to own a general idea, as if it were a specific technology, etc. -- is absolutely disgusting. I can't decide whether to assume that they are so mind-bogglingly stupid as to really believe that their patent is valid, or such unscruplous greedy bastards as to try this sort of patent terrorism when they are fully aware of all the arguments we are yelling and screaming about. (This is a general problem I have with "Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity." -- maybe it really is malice. I would at least say "Do not necessarily..." instead of "Never...".)

    However: my point here is that, whereas you are just babbling about getting silly patents, they actually did go through the process of applying for, and receiving these patents. Whenever one of these "ridiculous patents" stories comes up and people make comments like yours, I am struck by this difference.

    David Gould

  • ...I for one would not complain about the above being a grammar flame, etc., since the difference between "infer" and "imply" is really something that nerds, of all people, should get right; we should be making fun of the non-nerds who just lump "all those technical-sounding 'logic' words" together instead of using them properly. The original comment was really pretty backwards: when a statement implies something, that thing is what we can infer from it.

    Actually, I would think the best word would have been "say" or "mean", as in "Both sentences say the same thing."

    Still, what started this whole argument was the point that a lot of people are misunderstanding the patent. Maybe instead of comparing the article to Rob's summary (which, as pointed out above, was not so bad after all), he should have compared the article directly to the dumb comments that he was reacting to. The point is valid: the patent is on paying for downloads, not just downloads. The other point is that it is still obscenely wrong-headed of them to claim to own this idea.

    David Gould
  • AOL! AOL has had credit card transactions for just about FOREVER. They have had pay areas where you could download sound bytes, atc, and have to pay for your time/transfer after the fact, usually billed *TADA* TO YOUR CREDIT CARD!

    AOL has been around how long now?

    As has been mentioned to death, BBS's have done similar things for years (mostly porn BBS's).


    I could go on and on. But patenting "making money for downloading of a certain type of information" is already based on other patents. Many of them opened up to public consumption already.

    SightSound are just a bunch of lowly squatters, who happened to patent something completely unenforceable, and are trying to get over on the glut of newer businesses who are following an older business model.

    These people are little more than a waste of time, oxygen, and a lousy 30 seconds that their mothers spent squirming around in the back of their daddy's manure trucks with assorted male relatives, the family dog, and the family pig.

    SightSound. Poster childern for Retroactive Birth Control in the coming millenium!

    Chas - The one, the only.
    THANK GOD!!!

  • Everyone's insane, I tell you! We're the only sane ones left. Some of us.


  • The internet killed BBS's, but before the Internet there were plenty of pay bbs's offering either warez or porn or both.

  • Once upon a time many years ago there were "over the phone line" jukeboxes. You picked up the receiver (handset), told the operator/disk jockey what song you wanted to hear and dropped coins into the slot just like a pay phone. The operator then put the record on the turntable and played it and the sound was fed down the phone line. I'm assuming it was a leased line rather than a dial-up connection so the phone company probably put some EQ on the line (they called it conditioning)just like they did for leased lines running to radio stations. Of course these were 78 rpm records so they probably sounded as good that way as if there had been an actual juke box with turntable on site. Lo-Fi either way. And since the people paying to here the music probably "remembered" what they heard, I think we can beckon to Sightsound to "lean close so that we can whisper to you" and then scream "Prior Art !!!"
    Back when digital recording of audio was just beginning to take off (pre commercial Internet days)there were several different schemes in the works to let someone walk into a store and up to a kiosk where they would select the songs they wanted and cassettes would be made for them from music stored digitally either on site or at the other end of a leased line and they would pay so much per song. Cost would be about the same as buying an album but you got only cuts that you wanted. Of course the audio cassette had to be recorded in real time so it could take an hour or so. Apparently these patents, or at least the first one, came out of one of these schemes, and possibly the second patent was an attempt to extend the first one to jump on the internet bandwagon.
    I think the best way to handle this would be for the sellers to discount their prices by 1 per cent and tell Sightsound to collect from the consumers, and to add "sorry, our customer privacy policy prevents us from releasing any identification information about our customers."
  • According to this ory/0,2257,12439-21077-153977-0,00.html

    Sony is going to be selling music over the net.
    Soundsight's (or whatever their name is)lawyers probably won't even know what hit them.
  • So this would, in effect, make all the pay-per-view services on the globe liable to pay licensing to these guys... kinda funny.
  • I been looking at this one also and have finally come to the conclusion that the information in the patent abstracts are rather too abstract. More info, that should be in the full patent description, is needed to fully assess the applicability of the two patents.

    Let me try to explain. If the patents are too generic in terms of what they cover (transmission protocol, procedures, etc), then prior art may be claimed. However, if the protocols, procedures, etc... are very specific, and applicable for this case, then prior art may not be valid. Saying that I will transmit data versus saying that I will transmit compressed digital audio signals using a client/server protocol are two different beasts. I would speculate that these patents go into much more specific detail into the procedures for conducting this transaction.

    The flip side of this, is that the patents may only be valid for only very specific situations. This leads to another question that I have. Suppose a patent says that one performs steps, A, B, C, and D. Is the patent still valid if only steps A, B, and D are performed? In this case, the missing step C is the monetary transfer part.

    Finally, one should keep in mind that the individual steps, A, B, C, and D can have prior art. However, putting them all together can be new and therefore patentable.
  • This does sound like a patent on Baloney Sandwiches, doesn't it? What they actually patented was a "business model" of transacting a download in exchange for an online transfer of money. I'm no patent lawyer, but I thought that business models were outside the scope of patents.

    If anybody feels like researching it a little bit (I'm afraid I just don't have the time this week), there's plenty of info on The US Patent and Trademark Office [].

    And nobody can make a baloney sandwich with out licensing patent number 3,14159,666 from Microsoft.

  • I seem remember hearing about Rusty & Eddies' getting shut down before this timeframe....
  • "That's extremely low" (base, ugly, moronic)
    "has no material effect" (on anything, it's folly)

    Journalists, and the way they make everything
    say what they want it to, or think it means.
    sheesh. furrfu.
  • Well, however b.s. this patent is, if it's
    enforced that only benefits Free Software, since
    the whole idea is that you never pay for the
    piece of information, but rather for service,
    be it distribution or consulting. So, if I have
    a site for MP3 music which charges you just a
    monthly fee, that would not be covered by this
    patent. So, if music publishers are siding with
    this patent they are stupid...
  • ...worked without the benefit of digital memory, which is mentioned specifically in the patent.
  • Did anyone else see the part about Sightsound suing N2K? Apparently, they will be defended by the RIAA.

    Dare I say that Sightsound is messing with the wrong people. Their patent ( along with all the other patents on generic internet business models ) simply cannot stand under US patent law. I hope the case goes to court and a precendent against blatantly ineligible patents is set.

    After that, I hope the RIAA will join Sightsound to the special place reserved for them in hell.

  • Quoting from the USTPO pages:

    "A patent cannot be obtained upon a mere idea or suggestion."

    The question is whether they patented a process without being specific enough. I At first glance, it looks specifc enough, but once you clear the legalese it certainly looks like this might be too generic of a patent. And if that argument, one must consider the validity of this being technical enough of a process to get a patent. You can't patent a process without having a solid technical base to support it. If you look at other computer IP patents, you'll see that they patent algorithms and manufacturing processes. They are specific in nature. This patent is probably too broad (not by much) to let Sightsound get away with it. Look for a patent challenge from the RIAA.

    Food for thought.
  • Why? You can't patent something that is a process that involves no new technologies. After all, software is distributed over the internet for pay, and that is essentially what they are talking about here...exchanging data for money.
    I read the whole patent application, and if this is valid, well, I can patent this cool parametric equalizer I built in 1983, which would entitle me to royalties on all stereo equipment sold everywhere. The wording is vague and non-technical (actually, the guy doesn't seem to even be familiar with the correct terminology), and the figures are laughable. Everyone, you should send scathing email to I basically told them any judge trying the case should kick their asses for being so stupid as to try a stunt like this.
  • It seems they are actually patenting a business model and not a technology. Downloading over the Internet is not materially different from having a CD sent to you - same content (What if I log into AOL - that's not the Internet).

    If they push their patent too hard they will, like most who do, fail in their attempts to protect. They will either use a narrow definition in which case we are probably safe, or such an incredibly broad one as to prevent eletronic distribution which will fail. I just hope it ends up in court.

    The ability to patent anything other than an alogorithm is incredibly myopic. I haven't seen a patent for micro kernel based operating systems...grab it quick!
  • Well there is a lot of noise about this thing. READ the patents. It is pretty clear that they do not refer to MP3 or even to activities. Nor even to Internet.
    Meanwhile there is a small problem that we might be ignoring. What's this fuss all about? About Or about MP3 format itself.
    Well I made a small analysis of sightsound's letter and came to three interesting points:
    1. These guys do not seem to understand the activities of The terms and conditions of license look like if they even didn't care to take a look at's site. Is this letter some sort of template where one of the addresses was
    2. The letter is made in a typical provocative formula: "I offer you gold or fire... Choose!". First they propose something in a very abstract manner. Then they end the letter with a clear threat. This is not the usual type of letter one would write to a business. Usually a letter of this kind would put almost anyone in the defensive or counter-attack. So is this some sort of provocation?
    3. There is a weird game of words in it. Please look very carefully at the following:

    "I'm sure you are aware of the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) which is intended to foster, among other things, the selection of an open architecture, secure format for the download sale of music by the end of this year."

    So these guys show a clear intention of marriage the anti-MP3 movement that has been roaming for a while. But:

    "While SIGHTSOUND.COM is participating in SDMI and determining whether _the_ format will be appropriate for inclusion in a Long Term Patent Licensing Program,(...)"

    Now what's that talk about "the format"???? The first statement is rather undetermined on what relates to "format". However in the second statement we see that "an (...) format" becomes "the format". Besides while the first statement talks about a future situation, the second one is about _THE PRESENT_.

    Now, are these guys talking about Or about MP3 format? If so who are they to decide about it? The damn context of the statements makes me wonder if the author (authors?) of this letter where making a general intimindating template to throw over the free music community, while they had in mind another target!

    Besides it is quite interesting to see the time line of sightsound's letter to almost coincide with the "watermarked MP3 initiative" where some bonzos showed a more softened attitude towards "wild" MP3.

    Let's think a little bit on this. Maybe these guys ain't crooks (they would get into trouble). Nor tortugas trying to fly as high as the falcons of music industry (fried in courts and public suicide). Maybe behind the look of sightsound there is someone else who calmly tries to probe the "market" behind such curtain.

    If the last case is true we have trouble here. Someone is trying to define what file formats should or shouldn't be. If you didn't get this one try to imagine M$ forcing all computer industry to use the Word format and outlawing HTML. What a beautiful world it would be.
  • Well on the patent issue I mentioned in a previous post that while being vague, this patent _describes_ an invention. I perfectly know how patents can be vague. The "gaming patent" was one of them.
    But looking carefully at the schemes and claims it is perfectly clear that sightsound is steaming up and nothing more. Probably all this would become clear only in court, when they will be forced to set up all the details of the "invention" (is there a practical realization of it anywhere?) Some claims do sound very near to things related to modern sound systems. However note that this invention is primarly an _hardware implementation_ of a translation system through telecom lines.

    Truly I understand the sightsound's letter more as they are participants of the SDMI. You give another interpretation to it. Maybe you're right. But frankly the english in that phrase is a bit obscure and may have some interpretations.

    In your interpretation we are dealing with guys suffering of Napoleon complex. I imagine sightsound deciding wether Sony has the right to publish or not music over the Internet...

    However I keep my first suspicions alive. I wonder if suddenly goes to court with these guys and we find a good veteran lawyer standing on sightsound's side and defending the poor small earnings of this company against the dark underground conspiracies of MP3 community...

    The future will say.
    PS: In Russia algorithms cannot be patented. Copyrighted yes, but never patented.
  • To find "prior art" (in order to invalidate the patent(s)), one need only find out when the alt.binaries.sounds.* and alt.binaries.multimedia.* USENET groups were formed. Many gigabytes (terabytes?) of files have been transmitted over the years, using FTP as well as USENET news.

    It is a shame that somebody is going to have to spend the time and money to take SIGHTSOUNDS to court to fight this thing, which appears to be frivolous as best, and pure extortion at worst. The cost of such legal action will most likely result in the raising of fees to offset those costs. Nobody wins, unless the distributors back down and give in to SIGHTSOUNDS, which is probably what SIGHTSOUNDS is hoping.

    I guess that's the cost of doing ANY kind of business nowadays.

    (void) lar3ry();
  • Let me address you in language you might understand:

    You are a FUCKING LAMER. A waste of space. A pathetic excuse for a human being.

    If you (and all your type) don't have something meaningful to add, stop wasting bandwidth.

    /me is a hypocrite for posting this? :-)

  • From CmdrTaco: claiming a patent on the sale of downloadable music

    From you: patent on on-line payments and fullfillment of requests for downloading music

    Imagine that... both statements infer the same thing.

  • Its about the music industry retaining control of the multi-billion dollar cash cow based on the antiquated disposable media model. Things might change one day but I wouldn't want to be in between all that money and the people who are used to having all of it. Historically people in these "incoming" positions of these sorts of paradigm shifts have frequently turned up dead.
  • Burn the goddam patent office, burn all that copyright shit down, too. And while you're at it, kill all those fucking people who get rich by being parasites on the poor, and not contributing to society at all.
  • Goodnoise has not stated that they will be complying, in fact they could not even confirm that they had received anything from SIGHTSOUND.COM.

    a2b on the other hand, has come up with the ransom demands and has been a licensee for roughly six months.

    For more info on this, I have been documenting the events thus far at Stop DSS []

  • Since it seems OK to patent variations on the idea of selling products or services, maybe I will take out a patent on taking money from shifty people in exchange for frivolous patents on obvious things, and stuff other people invented.

    Then we can licence this technology to the patent office for 25% of their profits (which could then be put to good use). If the patent office refuses to pay, we can sue them and take an injunction out against the office, preventing them giving out any more frivolous patents.

    Its a win-win situation
  • do any of you know how much it costs to actually get patent approved, let alone simply pending? it's brutally expensive!
    i'm left wondering a) where sightsound got the money to push this patent through - the second one went through in a year!! b) consider the source - who stands to gain the most by forcibly extracting payments?
    i would not be at all surprised to see that sightsound was a puppet company set up by the large media players. these patents are so bullsh*t it's not even remotely funny. sure, we can see they're ludicrous, but what happens when a (bribed?) judge upholds the patent?
    can we say "legal precedent"? if that ever happens, god only knows where it'll go from there.
  • How on earth could anyone be granted a patent for the distribution of any form of digital information over the internet ?
    That is what it was built for a long time before this patent application !
    This is crazy.
  • Needless to say, this is the most stupid thing I have heard this week. Maybe except for the idea that MS is not a monopoly. This gives me an idea - Who owns the patent for the concept of Operating Systems, anyway? D'oh.
  • You mean patents are only valid 17 years? How lame. There must immediately be a campaign to extend patens to last for 95 years as has been proposed for copyright! ;-)
    Seriously, not that I think patents are inherently bad, but some people are just abusing the idea.
  • As soon as too many of these companies comply w/ this ludicrous request, sightsound will have a legal fund to persue compliance from the rest of 'em and defend the validity of the patent in court. BAD! VERY BAD!
  • Is there a group that takes action against
    such things? This whole patent thing is out
    of control, as most posters seem to agree.

    If there's not a group, anybody wanna start

  • Spiffy. The idiocy of the patent officer(s) responsible for this is staggering. They've issued a patent for a figment of the applicant's imagination. This patent sounds suspiciously like one of Alexander Graham's many patents... the telephone. :p

    PS: Other examples of possibly pre-existing art may include (I don't know the exact dates of the initial invention of these, but...):
    Cable Television
    Phone Sex/Psychic Lines
    Telegraph?! (I'm assuming there were "payment from receiver" options)
  • How is this different from the "Payment required" status of the HTTP protocol? While the HTTP 0.9 spec didn't say how it is to be implemented, the concept was clearly there years ago.
  • I just patented the website so everyone who has one has to pay 50 cents a hit or I will take legal action.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton