Will Podcasts be Patented?

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One of the people I met while in Hawaii awhile back was podcaster Todd Cochrane. He has some definite opinions about the possible patenting of podcasting.

Back in around 2000, Dave Winer and Adam Curry came up with the ideas that led to podcasting, according to Todd. In 2003, there were demos made at a number of conferences, showing what it would take to download media automatically using a software programming.

When the news came out recently that VoloMedia had been issued a patent on episodic content, the community said collectively “wait a minute!”. It comes as a shock to much of them. If Dave and Adam did this work, there’s no way the patent can hold up. Over time, it’s going to depend on where this all goes, and what happens. Todd certainly hopes that VoloMedia sticks to the things they’ve said they will do (and not do), and don’t end up dragging people into courts all of the time. They claim that their intent is to continue to work collaboratively with key participants in the industry, leveraging their unique range of products to further grow and accelerate the market.

Todd says the community doesn’t need this at this point. They are all trying to build communities around what they are doing with their own podcasts, attempting to make a business and earn money. They don’t need the headache and hassle that this announcement brings, causing them to worry about having to look over their proverbial shoulder.

The bottom line is that VoloMedia is trying to patent episodic podcasting. It could get very messy for many of us in this line of work. It remains to be seen what exactly is going to come of all of this.

What are your thoughts?

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