VoloMedia Podcast Patent… Remember When?


Via the Association for Downloadable Media (ADM) website, VoloMedia (formerly PodBridge) explained the patent just issued to them for “podcasting.” I use quotes because they say it is for “podcasting.” Patent #7,568,213 actually covers a “Method for Providing Episodic Media.” You know, like TV and soap operas. My guess is they posted it to the ADM website because no one noticed it on the VoloMedia website. Reading about this recent success just takes me down memory lane.

Remember when…

Adam Curry, Dave Winer and VoloMedia came up with that crazy idea about enclosures in RSS?

Or the time Winer, Christopher Lydon and VoloMedia really put it into practice?

Or when Doug Kaye and VoloMedia chatted and IT Conversations was born?

Or how about when Dave Slusher and VoloMedia spotted Dannie Gregoires’s RSS aggregation software using the agent name ‘podcaster’ and chimed “Podcasting! right on!” and podcasting got its name?

Wow! The memories…

I know when early on Todd Cochrane, Dawn & Drew, Dan Klass, myself and many others were trying to sort out how to podcast it was always the folks at VoloMedia who came to our aid to explain episodic media done right. Heck – they invented it!

All that initial media attention: NY Times, Wired Magazine, USA Today, CNN etc., etc. It was always our basic crew – plus the great guys & gals from VoloMedia.

You couldn’t help but bump into the VoloMedia team in the green rooms at conferences. In fact, I can’t think of a podcast conference I went to where I didn’t see their banners or leave without them forcing a VoloMedia branded shirt and pen on us.

Those VoloMedia folks are awesome! They always covered the bar bill. The stories I could tell.

Those were the days…

How about the time an overly VC funded company tried to carve out an island of potential IP defensibility and future for litigation based revenue via a broad patent?

Good times, good times….

VoloMedia can claim whatever they like, good for them. IP claims like this can be used in many ways. Nuisance litigation, acquisition value etc. etc. Prior art from many listed above will be an issue but it comes down to dollars and sense.

The big loser in my opinion is the ADM. Who in the world agreed to post this to their site? Recent “notes”, “updates” and “clarifications” aside they gave it credibility under their name as an organization, an organization supported by the very people who will likely take issue with it and litigate it. No one paid this any notice until it was on the ADM site. Well played VoloMedia. The ADM folks are all smart people, how they allowed this to happen baffles me.

What am I doing about it? I’m adding podcasting/episodic media “expert witness” to my resume. When in Rome…

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  1. says

    These developments reflect poorly on the ADM. Instead of analyzing the issue and seeking comment from their members they just posted Volo’s spin on the ADM blog. What’s the purpose of an association if they don’t represent all of their members? ADM provides zero value for new media producers. In fact, the biggest players in the space like Leo Laporte, Blip.tv and others passed on the opportunity to join ADM. So what real value, besides the privilege of membership, does the ADM offer new media producers?

  2. says

    Hi Michael

    ADM provides active and un-gated accounts to members who have expressed interest in offering up news, commentary and insight regarding episodic, podcasting and related issues. Generally this works out great as many professionals involved with ADM can and should be trusted with contributing to this shared resource.

    Volomedia’s post includes editorial commentary and a position that is uniquely Volomedia’s. This on it’s face is not an issue, as we have many ADM members that share their unique positions with the public through the blog.

    However the post currently fails to provide a base level of context as to the potential impact of its members and the community at large.

    In light of this, we considered several options, one of which was to pull the post. But in the online world it is practically impossible and often far worse to censor published content. Instead we contacted Volomedia and requested that they contextualize the post, and offer up more on the matter to the community. We look forward to the response.

    Should ADM muzzle potentially provocative speech on the blog? Alternatively the option we choose is to remind our membership of the policy that each member is obligated to balance individual member news with a discussion of how the news might impact our community.

    Stay tuned for more substantive discussion on the news of Volomedia’s patent award announcement.

    Chris MacDonald
    Chairman, ADM

  3. says

    Excellent post! VoloMedia must have been there also in January 2004 when I did a demo at COMDEX party hosted by Computer Reseller News (CRN) showing how you could use Microsoft Outlook and Greg Reinacker’s Newsgator RSS Reader to sync Mr. Winer and Mr. Lydon’s MP3 audio files to a HP Windows CE handheld and listen to the files while mobile.

  4. says

    I did the first ever thesis at a university about podcasting in 2005 – and funny enough I completely forgot to mention Volomedia at my exam in spring 2006. Bummer! Fail!

  5. Todd Cochrane says

    Hmmm Looking back at my book on Podcasting, I am trying to find the reference to VoloMedia. Hmmm that’s strange they are not even mentioned.

    So far as the ADM website goes, only someone with a ego as big as the Grand Canyon would have had the B@(($ to post that post on that website.

    It reeks of desperation and at the same time an attitude of your better listen to me or I am going to cram my IP down your throat.

    Lessons on how to win friends and influence people are in order here. Nothing like turning the entire podcasting community against you in a single post.

  6. says

    My question is how can something that started in 2001 be patented now by some company that didn’t exist when it was invented?

    Oh yeah, I guess it’s like when Al Gore invented the internet in the late 80’s / early 90’s when it started in the 60’s.. I get it :)

    I’m not sure what to think about ADM.


  7. says

    Hmmm. Perhaps WE invented VoloMedia during one of the Expo parties in Ontario, California? Anyone remember?

  8. Rob Blatt says

    The one thing VoloMedia was able to do is u ify the podcasting community. That seems to be the only thing that will legitamately come out of this.

  9. says

    I’m not 100% sure because I’m not a patent attorney nor do I play one on TV but it looks like their patent applies to a user interface for downloading episodic media.

    So this does not apply to any individual content producer, but the people
    who provide podcatchers (iTunes, Zune, etc).

    There are some prior uses to this type of technology that predate their patent. I’m not positive but this could be one: http://www.freepatentsonline.com/6246672.html

    I do think Volo has worked hard to make a business out of podcasting and they have a business obligation to seek patents on their technology.

    It will be interesting to se if they have the legal grounds and the financial capital to defend their patents.

    I wish them no ill will but hope that they can accomplish something that will help all podcasters monetize their content.