Apr 20, 2011 - Computer-based audio storage and playback is common at stations now, and it's almost taken for granted. The first reliable systems date back to the early 1990s, and some stats even note 1989 as the first year they were available.
Recently, radio stations have been contacted to discuss a patent dispute. It seems U.S. patent 5,629,867, issued on May 13, 1997, details the idea of a current computer-based radio automation system. The patent is held by Robert P. Goldman.
As the 2011 NAB Show floor opened, rumblings of licensing inquiries began circulating on the floor. Letters have been sent to stations to arrange licensing payments for the technology. Naturally this has caused concern from automation manufacturers and stations.
Mission Abstract Data is making the contacts. The sender says his effort to arrange payments and keep the matter out of the hand of lawyers.
It's odd that the patent holder would go after the automation system users and not the manufacturers. It's also unusual that the patent, which was filed on Jan. 25, 1994, is predated by at least three existing computer-based automation systems. A system called Audicom was released in 1989. Systems from Arrakis and Audisk also appear to predate the patent filing.
Radio magazine has contacted several automation manufacturers for additional information.