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Podcasting -- the next DRM battlefield?

posted by:Jason Millar // 09:10 PM // May 24, 2005 // TechLife

Heard about podcasting? If you haven't, Apple's recent announcement to support podcasting in it's upcoming release of iTunes will certainly thrust it into the mainstream vernacular.

Podcasting is two things. First, it's a completely new way of getting your audio published and distributed on the web, which takes advantage of the RSS feeds commonly used for text-based news subscriptions. Second, it is a way of downloading audio directly to a digital media player, such as an iPod, in a manner that is fundamentally different from the traditional solutions offered by KazAa, or Napster. The beauty of the system is that the user can simply subscribe to a syndicated podcasting feed, and the MP3s are downloaded and synchronized to the device automatically as they become published on the internet, via some software like ipodder.

Typical podcasts consist of homebrewed radio programs presented in an interview style. But sites like GarageBand.com have recently begun offering all of their music via podcasting.

For a much more complete description of the podcasting universe, check out this article about the inventor of podcasting, Adam Curry, and this podcasting blog.

A recent list of endangered devices published by the Electronic Frontier Foundation lists the iPod among those targeted by anti copyright infringement laws proposed in the US Congress. Given that podcasting allows the widespread distribution of audio, it will certainly be subject to the ongoing debate surrounding Digital Rights Management, as it offers a new method of MP3 distribution that is quite different from the traditional solutions. However, it also represents a potential widespread "uninfringing" technology, given that mainstream audio producers such as the CBC are beginning to podcast their content.

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How does podcasting do anything for 'the drm debate'? It's an mp3 file, BFD. It's up to the content owner of the mp3 to decide if they want to layer on drm. The intersection with copyright is what's contained in the podcasted file. If say Kid-A is making her own podcasted radio station, odds are she's using copyrighted songs. In compiling her podcasted show, she's using those works and if she doesn't pay she's infringing performance and other rights. That's the copyright issue - not DRM. Podcasting is really nothing revolutionary - it's RSS + mp3 + hype. It's the hype that's driving this.

Posted by: DRM-Hunter at May 24, 2005 10:56 PM

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