back to article Company wins US patent for podcasting

A US company has been granted a patent that it claims gives it rights over podcasting technology. VoloMedia says that its patent, for "a method for providing episodic media", covers all episodic media downloads, or podcasts. The company said that it would expect podcasters to have "a collaborative relationship" with it. "The …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Episodic media downloads

    So because I downloaded those ASCII re-creations of Star Wars in the early '80s, do I owe these guys some money? 7 or 8 parts I think, lovingly crafted by geeks over an entire summer holiday and periodically uploaded to BBSs for the entertainment of other geeks.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    From the sounds of things, this could cover TV too.

    Another pointless patent to keep lawyers going.

  3. David Hicks
    Thumb Down

    What a load of old tosh

    So because they think they cam along before podcasting was on the scene that they deserve a patent on the frigging obvious?

    When the term "podcasting" was first mooted I hated it. There was nothing new there then. WOW, someone made downloadable sound files, and someone else made a piece of software to grab a notification off a website and check for new stuff. Podcasting was then added as a pretentious term over the top to cover the two activities.

    Nobody deserves a patent for that. Hell, if they did invent it they deserve a good punch to the gut.

  4. not.known@this.address Silver badge

    "Podcasting" CHANNEL?

    So if the 'channel' can be used for anything else, it won't fall under their Patent will it? So anyone downloading from a site that deals with nothing but Podcasts might need to worry, but anyone downloading from, say the BBC's website has no fear because "the channel" is used for so much more than "the distribution of episodic content"...

    In fact, wouldn't you need to have dedicated lines solely for Podcasts before this would affect you? After all, if they try to claim that the Internet is what they are after, won't they have a bit of an uphill struggle?

  5. Mark 65



    The patent, number 7,568,213 at the US Patent and Trademarks Office (USPTO), protects "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".


    What, you mean like tv (BBC 1) or cable broadcasts (UKTV etc) or radio with The Archers? USPTO, utter twats. I have an application for patent over oxygen consuming organic matter, no prior art - honest. Granted? Sweet.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    "almost a year before the start of podcasting" is a bare-faced lie

    They issued their patent claim in November, *after* the release of the iPodder script. These dishonest bastards just jumped on something that someone else was already doing and issued a patent for it. Blatant theft.

  7. Anonymous Coward


    ...just put 1 non "episodding" thing on there. Kill the patent dead.

    I.e you could have 1000 different series on there, but stick on a 1 off programme and it's no longer a channel just for that.

    Oh well thank God patents are not universal. Looks like only the Mercan's are shafted.

  8. Steve Browne

    How can they?

    I mean, this sounds so ridiculous, it could only happen in America.

    Episodic data has been transmitted for decades, all those reruns on BBC1 and Friends on E4 for instance, there are even directories stating when they will be available for download (TV Times is one). Plus, some channels even retransmit with a time delay (E4+1) just in case you miss it the "first" time.

    I have written systems that episodically connected to other machines, they didn't have servers then, to distribute whatever information had become available since the previous episode. It was possible to request a retransmission if one of those pesky bits didn't quite make it correctly. This was 25 years ago.

    Or, have I completely missed the point? (Probably!)

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Prior Art

    They claim podcasting only happened after they applied for their patent. And it's true that the term did. But the technology behind it - RSS feeds and enclosures in RSS feeds of audio data - arrived at least a year before their application went in. Just ask Dave Winer

  10. Suburban Inmate

    I can beat that.

    I've just patented a method of creating a refreshing beverage from Camellia sinensis, boiling water, and optional cow juice!

    Patent pending on an improved version made from cold water, yeast, hops and malted barley...

  11. James Grinter 1

    Carl Malamud's Internet Talk Radio

    launched in 1993.

    It was episodic - a new programme came out each week; it had a mechanism to notify of new content - an email list; and it had a mechanism to download it - FTP from your nearest archive/mirror.

    The rest is just a fancy interface.

  12. Alpha Tony

    I have an idea..

    ...I am going to file a patent application for 'the practice of filing stupid, frivolous or pointless patent applications'. Then every time one of these fuckwit companies tries this bullshit I can demand some royalties.

  13. Jim Carter

    Now that

    Is blatant patent trolling.

  14. g e


    Surely every single download from a newsgroup channel that has spanned more than one chunk can be considered episodicified as it comes in installments and the channel is even dedicated to it.

    Anyway you have to applaud trolls like these people as they inevitaby help move the US patent system incrementally toward sanity - you gotta hope, anyway.

    I should think the EFF's patent team will be having a good dig around to find prior art anytime about now....

  15. Matthew Ellen


    Doesn't the entire newspaper publishing industry count as prior art?

  16. Richard 102

    Shakespeare was right

    First thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.

  17. Titus Aduxass

    Eppy sodit

    Dedicated channel for episodes? Sounds like the BOFH is screwed then.

    I'll look for someone's coat...

  18. The Indomitable Gall

    Overbroadness aplenty

    "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"

    Hang on... "whereing the episodic media provided over the channel is pre-defined into one or more episodes"... "one or more episodes"... so they're claiming something can be "episodic" if it consists of only one, single "episode"...?

    So is Psycho episodic? The Bridges of Madison County? Debbie Does Dallas?

    Overbroadness abounds...

  19. Rupert Stubbs

    What the Dickens?

    I reckon Charles Dickens shows prior art by selling his stories by the chapter...

  20. kevin elliott


    So what is episodic? It's divided into parts/occasional/unpredictable/impermanent/temporary... It doesn't have to repeat. And the patent says: " or more episodes..."

    The guys didn't develop anything, just wrote a concept on a form and submitted it. And probably heard the concept being bandied around in the newsgroups and decided to squat.

    And by this patent, any company or person that provides reports or other data to it's customers, and asks them to collect is covered.....

    So effectively the US patent office has not only given these guys a patent in podcasting, but also telephone directory distibution, magazine distribution (e.g. ad on tv, go to you newsagent to collect), bank reports, estate agent reports, vehicle delivery..... You name it, anything where the originator gets you to collect and the channel could be described as dedicated.

    Even doctor's reports.... You know - Phone rings, you answer & hear , "Hello it's Doctor Xs surgery here. Please call in to collect your test results......."

    And what about windows update - or any other remote, automatic updating system.

    Hang on, wouldn't el reg count as episodic data... and isn't it's web site dedicated to epsidoci data.... And isn't the notification by changes to the home page - and we collect by clicking on the link - which is, of course, dedicated to delivery of the episode.....

    So that makes the internet prior art.... among all the other examples I've quoted.

    This is the most stunning example yet of the sheer incompetence and stupidity of the US patent system.

  21. Matt Martin

    Prior Art?

  22. Eddy Ito

    our rubber stamping overloads

    I assume the patent examiner didn't actually read the patent or, more likely, just wake from a tequila coma. Then again, perhaps it's just the constant overexposure to bullshit legalese wording that turns ones brain into a leathery ulcerated mass that continuously weeps smegma.

    Actually, the latter would explain both the legal and political systems in this country.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Podcasting = Webcasting

    Surely you mean Webcasting, Podcasting was just Apple's name for the existing practise of Webcasting.


    Here's the webcast from the 2001 California State Science Fair Award Ceremony.

    I'm sure you can find many many more, simply search for 'Webcast 1997' or 'Webcast 1998' etc. The tools to AUTOMATE webcasting were done by Real in 1997 and prior to that it was manual, so you'll find it way way back.

    Once again the US patent office stands in shame. Not any attempt at all to examine prior art. It's like they just don't do their job.

  24. gollux

    Time Machine Needed...

    For a trip back in time to sue Sir Arthur Connan Doyle and Charles Dickens for illegally for providing episodic media.

    Sheesh, it's called serialization and has been being done ever since printing presses have been spitting out periodicals and newspapers.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    2001 Wayback machine

    Seems these award ceremony webcasts go further back than the wayback machine. These are from 1998, however the wayback machine only indexed it in 2001.

    Does the US patent office do ANY research at all for their fee??

  26. Charles 9 Silver badge

    @Podcasting = Webcasting

    Perhaps if you learned just how strapped the USPTO is in terms of funds and staff, you'll give them a bit of a break. The current environment there is akin to trying to run a one-man television network. By law (because innovation is time-sensitive), patent applications must be resolved (yes or no, no wishy-washy) within a certain amount of time, and their standards dictate they must err towards "yes" when in doubt. And many patent applications (take medical patents, for example) usually require lots of research and even expertise to determine their validity. Given these mandates and only a handful of people, do you think you could properly handle the multitudes of patent applications that end up in the USPTO each year?

  27. Wortel

    Ha ha ha

    Bye Podcasting! What brilliance, patent prior art and thereby steal it from the original author(s). NOOBS!!

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @USPTO Cry me a river

    "Given these mandates and only a handful of people, do you think you could properly handle the multitudes of patent applications that end up in the USPTO each year?"

    And why do they have so many patent applications? Because they approve so much crap that every and their uncle wants to play the patent troll game.

    They reap what they sowed and there seems to be no attempt to clean up their act and reject more fluff patents. The more trolls they reject the fewer trolls they will receive.

  29. Anonymous Coward


    I'm having an episodic attack of stupidity

  30. furtherstill

    Just like Compton, fool.

    Reminds me of that asinine patent given to Compton's (digital encyclopedia people) back in the early '90s for "multimedia." That one was revoked after much uproar and eventual analysis by a creature with a functional human brain, who found it to be absurd and preposterous. For the record, the title here is a reference to an unrelated rap song from the period.

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