VoloMedia, an online ad tools company, is gleefully declaring that it has been awarded a patent on podcasting
. The specific patent, 7,568,213
, is for a "Method for providing episodic media content." Not surprisingly, it's a continuation patent (sometimes referred to as a submarine patent) where the claims are changed over time to keep current with what's happening in the market. The patent itself is short, with the main claim being:
A method for providing episodic media, the method comprising: providing a user with access to a channel dedicated to episodic media, wherein the episodic media provided over the channel is pre-defined into one or more episodes by a remote publisher of the episodic media; receiving a subscription request to the channel dedicated to the episodic media from the user; automatically downloading updated episodic media associated with the channel dedicated to the episodic media to a computing device associated with the user in accordance with the subscription request upon availability of the updated episodic media, the automatic download occurring without further user interaction; and providing the user with: an indication of a maximum available channel depth, the channel depth indicating a size of episodic media yet to be downloaded from the channel and size of episodic media already downloaded from the channel, the channel depth being specified in playtime or storage resources, and the ability to modify the channel depth by deleting selected episodic media content, thereby overriding the previously configured channel depth.
I have a lot of trouble understanding how this is possibly patentable. I would think that Dave Winer's work on enclosures for audio content in RSS would be seen as significant prior art. Beyond just the prior art, you have to wonder how this passes the "bilski" test (what was transformed here?) or the KSR/Teleflex test on obviousness (this is simply combining things that were already out there). Still, expect plenty of trouble here. Considering that Volo wasted no time at all in rushing out a press release, expect them to be aggressive with this patent -- without realizing that it may be unleashing significant anger from the podcasting community that it probably doesn't want.