My inbox is full of Google Alerts on Podcasting, thanks to an announcement by Volomedia that they have been granted a patent entitled “Method for Providing Episodic Media.” According to the press release, the “patent covers the fundamental mechanisms of podcasting, including providing consumer subscription to a show, automatically downloading media to a computer, prioritizing downloads, providing users with status indication, deleting episodes, and synchronizing episodes to a portable media device.”
The company filed a patent claim in 2003, “almost a year before the start of podcasting. This helps underscore the point, that for nearly six years, VoloMedia has been focused on helping publishers monetize portable media…. and has continued these efforts with the addition of a wide array of smartphone-based applications.” (from a blog post on their site)
This announcement has generated quite a bit of skepticism by folks wondering if anyone should be able to lay claim to such a broad method of content delivery. Without contributing to the controversy, I’ll add some facts that I have read in various articles on the topic. According to Contentinople’s Ryan Lawler, Volomedia’s CEO Navar notes that Apple, which helped popularize podcasts through its iTunes music store, didn’t add podcasting to its media application until 2005.
Navar told Ars Technica that “Our focus is to generate revenues through our products and technologies.” “VoloMedia is not entertaining or pursuing any licensing conversations… VoloMedia’s main intent is to continue to work collaboratively with key participants in the industry, leveraging its unique range of products to further grow and accelerate the market, not introduce new impediments.”
Volomedia is not a so-called patent troll company, in the business of scooping up potentially lucrative patents and then licensing them to potential infringers. Rather, the company has been in the business of podcasts for a while and it has a long list of clients that includes MSNBC, ABC, Fox News, Slate, Scientific American, Public Radio International. Sounds like that list may get a lot longer…