Looks like they are starting to take the suit seriously: on 3/30, numerous radio automation systems vendors held a meeting about the Digimedia/Mission Abstract Data lawsuit. We’ve heard radio groups were present as well. We can’t confirm if Digimedia was there…yet.
“It’s being handled by our attorneys and those from the other companies involved,” Greater Media VP/Radio Engineering Milford Smith told RBR-TVBR.
One of the issues discussed was whether or not the vendors would stand behind their radio clients in the suit.
From what we heard, RCS/Prophet Systems was there, Broadcast Electronics, Harris and others. Needless to say, folks are listening to the lawyers for now and cannot comment on or off the record. WideOrbit CEO Eric Mathewson mentioned they were scheduled to participate in the meeting, but decided not to. WideOrbit’s WO Automation for Radio was formerly Google Radio Automation.
The DigiMedia patent lawsuit targets the corporate owners of numerous groups, including Beasley Broadcasting, CBS Radio, Cox Radio, Cumulus, Entercom, Greater Media and Townsquare Media (a total of 900 stations). They—not the automation systems providers they use—are being sued for infringing on two patents by employing “all-digital, computer-hard-drive-based systems for music storage and delivery.”
As it stands now, the defendants have been granted an extension until 5/2 to reply to the suit.
Dave Scott, CEO, DaveScottCompanies.com, was able to share more opinion on the suit—because he’s out of the automation equipment business today, in fact, since 2004: “I don’t have a horse in this race. I have seen the blog page on http://www.missionabstractdata.com/blog.html where he says I’m wrong [from our previous article on this].”
The blog says we had not referenced his patent title properly, but we have both patents attached in the story and referenced the title that’s on both of them, so we’re not sure where that’s coming from. However, the company does present its argument there—it’s worth taking a look. From the blog:
“The most relevant patent (US 5,629,867) was granted after the Patent Office examiner looked at the state of published radio technologies as they existed prior to its issuance. It was the determination of the Patent Office that no one had previously published materials that described a system in which at least several hundred songs were stored in a database resident on one or more computer hard drives in an array that could be played using software on a computer (no particular kind of software, no particular features for automation being required) over a radio broadcast At the time of the patent application’s filing, the Patent Office determined that the invention met all of the criteria for issuance of a patent including the question of obviousness in view of prior existing systems and documents and the question of inventive step or that the proposed claimed invention was in fact a real invention.”
Adds Scott: “The assets, including the business records, of Scott Studios Corp. were sold. As part of that contract, I had to certify that I had delivered everything and erased copies of the software, contracts, source code and the like. However, before starting Scott Studios late December, 1992, I owned Media Touch Music Corp. from July, 1992. I have brochures showing a 1992 MediaTouch brochure that says, ‘Live or Automation: MediaDISK records and plays commercials, jingles, music, voice tracks and news actualities. Various models store 3 to 77 hours of CD quality audio.’ The flier mentions Dolby AC-2 (a 5:1 compression for digital audio). It also mentions ‘A Dave Scott Company.’ That dates the flier to last half of 1992.
I also have the signed original of an August 25, 1992 letter from Dolby Labs addressed to my wife, employee of Media Touch, Dallas regarding our licensed rights to use their Dolby AC-2 ‘logo on Media Touch Music’s computer system.’
This Dolby 5:1 compression is broadcast quality and made music on hard drive much more affordable because now one ordinary hard drive could hold 1000 songs and a complete inventory of commercials, jingles, news, as well.
I also have a 1993 Dave Scott Studios brochure headed ‘Your Best Air Studio.’ It has a photo of a Beatles song on hard drive and ‘Copyright 1993 Dave Scott Studios.’
Where Digimedia had dreams and risked a ream of paper, I was actually delivering products to real radio stations. Digimedia’s claims that they improved on the prior art are false by at least a year and a half.
I have proof of what I did. The Patent applicant can only prove what he found and claim he really looked. The Patent applicant didn’t look very hard. I can tell you he didn’t call me, and I advertised continuously in trade magazines. The Patent Office didn’t look very hard either. There’s a world of difference between dreaming about putting music on hard drive in 1994 (which the Patent applicant claims), writing it up and sending copies to a bunch of government bureaucrats contrasted to actually making, selling and delivering dozens–if not hundreds–of music on hard drive systems in 1993 that worked great (which Dave Scott Studios did).
His idea is a paper tiger. He wrote down a dream. If Mission Abstract Data really had anything, why didn’t they license this technology to the radio industry in 1994? Or 1995? Or 1996?
It was NOT Mission Abstract Data that allowed radio stations to lock the door every evening (and save the money of full time night and overnight DJ’s pay). It was Dave Scott and the other brave vendors who followed shortly after.
I have offered myself as a consultant and expert witness to anyone who wants to pay a modest fee for my knowledge, evidence and time to present it.
I checked with one of my former employees who did the music dubbing to hard drive. He knows Scott Studios sold a music automation system to KXKL, Denver, with many hundreds of songs pre-dubbed prior to the birth of his son in Sept. 93. We’re looking for documents.”
From what we’ve learned, so are radio group DOE’s, and they’re delivering them to the corporate lawyers.
Also, on the Mission Abstract Data blog, Eugene Novacek, ENCO Systems President, had this to say: “ENCO Systems created, marketed, sold and installed many of its DAD Digital Audio Delivery systems that utilized Dolby AC2 compression prior to 1994. Coupled with the common use of spanned hard disks in the Novell Netware servers ENCO used, it was very common to have more than several hundred songs stored in its library.”
Novacek tells RBR-TVBR he did not know about the meeting, and “As far as I know, no ENCO client has asked us about the suit.”
RBR-TVBR observation: We questioned before why the automation systems providers were not named in the suit and still do. But we also wonder how much the automation systems providers would indemnify/support their broadcaster clients if it went to court and somehow Digimedia won. This could cost the stations more money in added royalties if this came to bear. We were also told Broadcast Electronics has stepped up and agreed to indemnify its Audiovault licensees.