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A California company that claims it owns the patents for streaming video over computer networks is lowering its royalty demands of the nation’s colleges and universities. Newport Beach, Calif.-based Acacia Media Technologies Corp. has asked dozens of colleges to pay up or face potential lawsuits over their use of streaming video in areas like distance learning and video lectures. Some colleges, as well as education and technology groups, say Acacia’s claims are invalid and worry that they could threaten college educational activities. In July, Acacia lost a key preliminary ruling in a similar dispute with adult entertainment Web sites, but the company insists its patent claims remain strong. Acacia now says it has responded to college concerns with a more generous licensing proposal. The arrangement, detailed in a letter dated Thursday, would exempt colleges from paying royalties on streaming video that produces no income. Colleges with small distance-learning programs could be exempted, and the minimum royalty for larger colleges could be as low as $1,000 annually. “We are looking to be reasonable business people,” said Acacia executive vice president and general counsel Rob Berman. But, he said colleges, which reap hundreds of millions of dollars from licenses on patents they develop, still have an obligation to sign on or stop using streaming video. “To me it is incomprehensible how they could expect others to respect their intellectual properties while ignoring others,’” he said. Sheldon Steinbach, general counsel for the American Council on Education, which is advising colleges on the matter, said: “For reasons unbeknownst to us, Acacia has reviewed its position and has adopted a much-welcomed, more conciliatory position.” However, he said ACE still advises colleges not to sign licensing deals pending an analysis of Acacia’s claims. Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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