the battle of the eardrums

this recent article from the NYT focuses on a different aspect – iTunes vs. audible.com – but in the process it manages to deliver a concise definition of what podcasting is.
quoted from new york times, june 3rd the battle of the eardrums, by randall stross:

“Podcast” is an ill-chosen portmanteau that manages to be a double misnomer. A podcast does not originate from an iPod. And it is not a broadcast sent out at a particular time for all who happen to receive it.

It is nothing other than an audio or video file that can be created by anyone – add a microphone to your computer, and you’re well on your way. The file begins its public life when you place it on a Web site, available for anyone to download to a computer and, from there, to transfer to a portable player, which may or may not be an iPod. It’s encoded in such a way that the receiving computer can pick it up in successive installments automatically, whenever they are posted to the Web site. Subscribing is the term used for the automatic downloads, and it’s apt.

The delivery mechanism for a podcast subscription is rather slick. There’s no need to go to the trouble of browsing the Web site again for fresh material: the new stuff moves without so much as a beep from the original server to your computer. Then it moves automatically to your attached portable player, keeping the content perpetually refreshed. Welcome to the post-Web era.

If new programs are added daily, you may begin to regard it as a new form of radio broadcast, ready whenever you happen to be free. But the seemingly trivial technical fact that you cannot begin to listen to the program before the file transfer is complete turns out to have important legal implications. A podcast falls in the not-a-broadcast category, which is otherwise known as file-sharing. It cannot include copyrighted music without authorization from the copyright owners. This is why podcasts are not the place for aspiring disc jockeys to realize their fantasies.

oh gawd, i should really stop podcasting. i am so gonna get in trouble. and nobody listens to it anyway. well, not nobody, but…
what will always puzzle me is a very simple, okay, a very naive question: why is it prefectly legal to quote text, as i just did – you just have to make sure that you name the source and author – but to use a partial piece of music in a similar way, like say in a dj mix, is not legal? i always quote my source, i always do something with it [= add it to the mix] and it might lead to somebody getting interested in purchasing it, no? why is music [and film too] handled so differently from text?

About Jan Zuppinger

Jan Zuppinger has been writing this blog since 2002. He likes to grow vegetables. He likes to eat them too. He has opinions on everything, but sadly no one cares. Jan Zuppinger is not joking, just joking, he is joking, just joking, he's not joking. *click.