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An RSS feed icon, commonly used to indicate the Web feed for a podcast

A podcast is a series of digital media files (either audio or video) that are released episodically and often downloaded through web syndication.

The mode of delivery differentiates podcasting from other means of accessing media files over the Internet, such as direct download, or streamed webcasting. A list of all the audio or video files currently associated with a given series is maintained centrally on the distributor's server as a web feed, and the listener or viewer employs special client application software known as a podcatcher that can access this web feed, check it for updates, and download any new files in the series. This process can be automated so that new files are downloaded automatically. Files are stored locally on the user's computer or other device ready for offline use, giving simple and convenient access to episodic content.[1][2] Commonly used audio file formats are Ogg Vorbis and MP3.

Academics at the Community, Journalism & Communication Research group at the University of Texas at Austin in the USA are proposing a four-part definition of a podcast: A podcast is a digital audio or video file that is episodic; downloadable; programme-driven, mainly with a host and/or theme; and convenient, usually via an automated feed with computer software.[3]



The term "podcasting" was first mentioned by Jeff Ben Hammersley in The Guardian newspaper in a February 2004 article, along with other proposed names for the new medium.[4] It is a portmanteau of the words "pod"—derived from iPod, a brand of portable media player produced by Apple Computer (now Apple),—and "broadcasting".[2] The name may be misleading, as despite the etymology it has never been necessary to use an iPod, or, indeed, any other form of portable media player, to use podcasts; the content can be accessed using any computer that can play media files.[5] Use of the term "podcast" predates the addition of native support for podcasting to the iPod, or to Apple's iTunes software.[6] To avoid a term suggestive of "iPod", some use the term netcast instead of podcast, such as the podcaster Leo Laporte.[7] A backronym has been posited where podcast stands for "Personal On Demand broadCAST".[8][9][10]


Podcasting began to catch hold with the public in late 2004, though during the 1998–2001 dot-com era there were multiple "podcasts" done by major companies, such as Real Networks and[citation needed] Many individuals and groups contributed to the emergence and popularity of podcasts.


The logo used by Apple to represent Podcasting

Trademark applications

On February 10, 2005, Shae Spencer Management LLC of Fairport, New York filed a trademark application to register PODCAST for an "online prerecorded radio program over the internet". On September 9, 2005, the United States Patent and Trademark Office rejected the application, citing Wikipedia's podcast entry as describing the history of the term. The company amended their application in March, 2006, but the USPTO rejected the amended application as not sufficiently differentiated from the original. In November, 2006, the application was marked as abandoned. [11]

As of September 20, 2005, known trademarks that attempted to capitalize on podcast include: Podcast Realty, GuidePod, PodGizmo, Pod-Casting, MyPod, Podvertiser, Podango, ePodcast, PodCabin, Podcaster, PodShop, PodKitchen, Podgram, GodPod and Podcast.[12] By February 2007, there had been 24 attempts to register trademarks containing the word "PODCAST" in United States, but only "PODCAST READY" from Podcast Ready, Inc. was approved.[13]

Apple trademark protections

On September 26, 2006, it was reported that Apple Computer started to crack down on businesses using the acronym "POD", in product and company names. Apple sent a cease-and-desist order that week to Podcast Ready, Inc., which markets an application known as "myPodder".[14] Lawyers for Apple contended that the term "pod" has been used by the public to refer to Apple's music player so extensively that it falls under Apple's trademark cover.[15] It was speculated that such activity was part of a bigger campaign for Apple to expand the scope of its existing iPod trademark, which included trademarking "IPODCAST", "IPOD", and "POD".[16] On November 16, 2006, Apple Trademark Department returned a letter claiming Apple does not object to third party usage of "podcast" to refer to podcasting services and that Apple does not license the term(s).[17]

See also


  1. ^ "Podcast Production". President and Fellows of Harvard College. Retrieved 2009-08-21. 
  2. ^ a b "Oxford University Press | Podcast". Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  3. ^ Gil de Zúñiga, H., Veenstra, A., Vraga, E., and Shah, D. (2010) 'Digital Democracy: Reimagining Pathways to Political Participation', Journal of Information Technology & Politics, 7: 1, 36 - 51
  4. ^ Ben Hammersley: "Audible revolution", The Guardian, 12 February 2004.
  5. ^ "What is PodCasting?". 2005-06-09. Retrieved 2010-02-08. 
  6. ^ "Apple adds podcasting to iTunes". 2006-06-30. Retrieved 2010-03-05. 
  7. ^ "A Cast By Any Other Name...". 2006-09-22. Retrieved 2010-02-08. 
  8. ^ "Common Craft's video "Podcasting in Plain English"". 2008-04-21. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  9. ^ "Creative's definition of the term podcasting". Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  10. ^ "Podcasting dictionary". Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  11. ^ "Podcast trademark rejection". USPTO. 2006-01-06. Retrieved 2010-01-21. 
  12. ^ Podcast Trademark Gold {PTG} Rush
  13. ^ "List of US podcast trademarks". Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  14. ^ "Podcast Ready Cease and Desist". Podcast Ready<!. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  15. ^ Shaun Nichols in California. "Apple cracks down on use of the word 'pod'". Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  16. ^ Podcast Trademark Controversy [Updated]
  17. ^ Apple letter.

External links

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