- In the past few years, fans leaving some concerts have discovered a souvenir far better than a T-shirt: a live recording of the show they just attended. Bands including the Allman Brothers, moe. and Billy Idol have sold instant concert discs, and the Pixies and the Doors plan to launch similar programs this summer. The recording-and-burning company DiscLive estimated on April 12th that it would gross $500,000 selling live discs this spring alone.
But in a move expected to severely limit the industry, Clear Channel Entertainment has bought the patent from the technology's inventors and now claims to own the exclusive right to sell concert CDs after shows. The company, which is the biggest concert promoter in the world, says the patent covers its 130 venues along with every other venue in the country.
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Although Clear Channel's press release says, "Instant Live LLC today announced that the company has acquired the U.S. Patent and continuation for the business method of creating and distributing digital concert recordings contemporaneously at events," the patent actually appears to only cover a particular process used for making such recordings, digitally, live. In comment threads about this on Ars and Slashdot, several commenters also state this view. I also see a lot of people mentioning that churches have been making live recordings of sermons available at the door for many years. And this commenter describes prior art that may even fit within the narrower view of the patent.
Nevertheless, Clear Channel is bullying bands and venues already - but selectively. My impression is that unless one of those bands or venues decides to risk their business and livelihood by challenging Clear Channel, this won't end up in court. Anyone more familiar with intellectual property law, please take a look at the patent, and tell us what you think?