VoloMedia claims it holds patent on podcasting, drawing howls of protest

A California company has announced that it has been awarded a patent for a "Method for Providing Episodic Media" on Tuesday. US Patent 7.568,213 was described by the firm as a "patent for podcasting," but company founder Murgesh Navar says the scope is actually broader than that.

Podcasting is generally thought of as RSS-based -- sign up and the episodes flow to your reader of choice. The patent doesn't specify RSS delivery, meaning that in theory other methods would fall under its purview.

Needless to say, patent observers jumped on the announcement with many feet. Several cited a 2001 post by Dave Winer concerning "payloads" (enclosures) for RSS feeds, which he put together after sustained nudging by Adam Curry to get right with high-quality video over the Internet. VoloMedia's application was filed in 2008, though it is based on a 2003 filing concerning "Personalized Episodic Download Media Service."

In a post on Wednesday, Winer acknowledged that he has heard about the filing and said, "I'm certainly not a lawyer or an expert in patent law, but it seems the work Adam Curry and I did in creating the format and protocol for podcasting, in 2001, may have inspired their "invention." It certainly predates it."

In a post to VoloMedia's blog, Mr. Navar notes that various companies already have contractual arrangements with the firm, including ABC News, MSNBC, Fox News, and PRI (Public Radio International). He says, "The impact of a strong growing IP portfolio is such that we would expect new entrants into the podcasting arena to have a collaborative relationship with VoloMedia, just as do many of the current players."

NewTeeVee reports that VoloMedia is already in talks with Apple and various TV networks about working together, and that Mr. Navar says actual content providers won't be affected by the ruling.

VoloMedia has been keeping busy while it waits on patent approvals -- there are apparently more applications in the pipeline at USPTO -- by providing "dynamic advertising insertion, targeting, measurement, reporting and campaign management within RSS-based portable video and audio," as their site puts it. CEO and president Brian Steel is an old Yahoo hand from the era of their Overture (nee GoTo.com) acquisition.

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