Tag Archives: podcasting

all your technology are belong to us!

All this is mine!

VoloMedia announced today that it has been awarded what it calls the “patent for podcasting.” OK, whatever. Podcasting is so last Tuesday but the government takes a long, long time to approve these things so, what’s this all about. Turns out it was an application from 2003 that doesn’t even mention the word “podcasting” (because the word hadn’t been invented yet.) I think then it’s a bit disingenuous for the company to say it’s the patent for podcasting in the title of their announcement about it. It looks to me like they might be trying to make claims after the fact.

And who is this VoloMedia? I’ve been podcasting for three years. I speak at technology conferences about it. I’ve never heard of VoloMedia until today.

OK so what does the patent claim actually say? Here are the details from VoloMedia’s website. (See you on the other side of this quote. Don’t get lost on the way 😉

For reference, below are the claims issued under U.S. patent 7,568,213:

1. A method for providing episodic media, the method comprising: providing a user with access to a channel dedicated to episodic media, wherein the episodic media provided over the channel is pre-defined into one or more episodes by a remote publisher of the episodic media; receiving a subscription request to the channel dedicated to the episodic media from the user; automatically downloading updated episodic media associated with the channel dedicated to the episodic media to a computing device associated with the user in accordance with the subscription request upon availability of the updated episodic media, the automatic download occurring without further user interaction; and providing the user with: an indication of a maximum available channel depth, the channel depth indicating a size of episodic media yet to be downloaded from the channel and size of episodic media already downloaded from the channel, the channel depth being specified in playtime or storage resources, and the ability to modify the channel depth by deleting selected episodic media content, thereby overriding the previously configured channel depth.

2. The method of claim 1, further comprising automatically providing the user with an indication of the availability of updated episodic media via the channel dedicated to the episodic media in accordance with the subscription request.

3. The method of claim 1, further comprising synchronizing the updated episodic media automatically downloaded to the computing device associated with the user with a portable computing device communicatively coupled to the computing device associated with the user.

4. The method of claim 3, wherein synchronization of the updated episodic media automatically occurs in response to a predetermined user setting.

5. The method of claim 3, wherein synchronization of the updated episodic media occurs in response to a request received from the user.

6. The method of claim 1, wherein the updated episodic media is made available to users not associated with the computing device over a local area network.

7. The method of claim 1, wherein the automatic download is further based on a priority assigned to the channel.

8. The method of claim 3, wherein the channel dedicated to the episodic media is reduced in size during synchronization in order to fit available cache storage within the portable device.

9. The method of claim 1, wherein the channel dedicated to the episodic media is modified in size by removing one or more episodes of episodic media.

What a bunch of vague gobbly-gook. This patent claim could apply to iTunes, my DVR… heck it could even apply to Twitter and Facebook. There’s no mention of an RSS feed at all which is essential for a podcast. I don’t think this patent is enforceable but they could certainly cause trouble for a lot of people.

What’s happening here reminds me of what happened a hundred years ago to the emerging motion picture industry. Several companies got together and formed the “Edison Trust” and tried to control the industry with their patents. The “independents” as they were called (the ones shut out of the trust) moved to the west coast to get as far away from the trust as they could. They concentrated on story and longer feature length films that were easier to market. In the end “content” beat out the control of the technology.

So, what does it all mean? Tom Webster over at Edison research has some good thoughts. Leesa Barnes over at Marketing Fit weighs in as well. But all in all, Alex Lindsay from Pixel Corps may have said it best on twitter:

OK… whoever approved this at the Patent Office… I want my tax dollars back for your salary… youre an idiot.


Grabbing the Same Old Eyeballs

gruesome knitted eyeballs

This is a response to a post on Michael Geoghegan’s blog called Podcasting – It’s a Community Not an Industry.

Podcasters, it is time you face the facts. If you are waiting for a podcast advertising service to ride in on a white horse and rescue you from your monetary woes, let me help you: start looking elsewhere.

Over the past year we’ve basically come to the same conclusion as Michael. The various new online ad “networks” aren’t going to do much for you as a podcaster.

The promise of joining an online “network” and automatically getting ads (and payment) as you focus only on making your content has always seemed a dubious promise to me. I do a video podcast about knitting which I think is a strong niche with lots of potential. In the various meetings we’ve had with these online “networks” it’s always been about raw numbers with very little consideration of the strength or subject of your content. There seems to be a blind focus on grabbing eyeballs, and advertising as the only way to monetize those eyeballs. Last year pre-roll ads were the answer. This year it’s overlays. The online mainstream media and all the VC money seems to be focused on developing advertising technology ONLY. No other options are being explored with such vigor. However, this is a new industry. Everything is changing very fast. There are a LOT of things that aren’t going to work. We really need to be exploring many new, different, out of the box models to find a FEW that are really going to be successful and repeatable.

The focus today seems to be to try to give the traditional ad buyers exactly what they want. The problem is, all they want is what they know. And all they know is what works for them now on TV and radio. I don’t think a traditional broadcast model is going to work for podcasting. We’re seeing a paradigm shift in the media industry. The Digital revolution is separating content from delivery technology. Shows go everywhere and aren’t confined to the specific distribution technology they were created for. At the same time the content producer is moving closer to the consumer. In the TV broadcast world there are lots of middle men. There’s the producer of the show, the cable channel corporation that pays for the show, the cable TV systems that delivers the show, etc. etc. before you can see it in your living room. With podcasting it’s, producer –> internet –> viewer. Any monetization model is going to have to leverage this greater simplicity. The mass media models from the past aren’t the answer and that’s all anybody seems interested in trying to develop.

So, I called podcasting an “industry” above and I guess I should probably respond to what Paul Colligan posted on his blog about podcasting NOT being an industry. These days I use “podcasting” as more of a synonym to New Media. The whole landscape is changing and constantly morphing into something else. It’s harder and harder to be strict about the definitions of specific technologies. For example: Our show Let’s Knit2gether is technically a podcast because it’s downloadable with an RSS feed but on the new AppleTV you can just click on it and play it. Does that make our show NOT a podcast? We also sell DVDs. Is our show a podcast when it’s on DVD? I don’t know anymore. In any case the media industry is changing rapidly. What it is becoming may be unknown (and un-nameable) but I still think it’s an industry.

A final thought. There’s so much more in Michael’s post to address. CAT and I have been talking about it all day. I think I’m going to cut it off here though and save the rest for future posts. When I made the decision a few years ago to shift my broadcast TV career into New Media I expected it to be a wild ride with plenty of excitement and change. I have not been disappointed in that respect and I’m sure there will always be plenty to comment on next time.

picture – maryjanemidgemink