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A podcast is a digital medium that consists of an episodic series of audio, video, digital radio, PDF, or ePub files subscribed to and downloaded through web syndication or streamed on-line to a computer or mobile device. The word is a neologism and portmanteau derived from "broadcast" and "pod" from the success of the iPod, as audio podcasts are often listened to on portable media players.

Merriam Webster defines "podcast" as: a program (as of music or talk) made available in digital format for automatic download over the Internet.[1]

A list of all the audio or video files 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, which may seem to the user as if the content is being broadcast or "pushed" to them. Files are stored locally on the user's computer or other device ready for offline use, giving simple and convenient access to the content.[2][3] Podcasting contrasts with webcasting (Internet streaming), which generally isn't designed for offline listening to user-selected content.

As discussed by Richard Berry, podcasting is both a converged medium bringing together audio, the web and portable media player, and a disruptive technology that has caused some in the radio business to reconsider some of the established practices and preconceptions about audiences, consumption, production and distribution.[4] This idea of disruptiveness is largely because no one person owns the technology; it is free to listen and create content, which departs from the traditional model of "gate-kept" media and production tools.[4] It is very much a horizontal media form: producers are consumers and consumers become producers and engage in conversations with each other.[4]


The term "podcasting" was first mentioned by Ben Hammersley in The Guardian newspaper in a February 2004 article, along with other proposed names for the new medium.[4][5] It is a portmanteau of the words "pod" —from iPod— and "broadcast".[6] Despite the etymology, the content can be accessed using any computer that can play media files and not just portable music players. Use of the term "podcast" predates the addition of native support for podcasting to the iPod, or to Apple's iTunes software.[7]

a program (as of music or talk) made available in digital format for automatic download over the Internet

— podcast verb — pod·cast·er noun[8]

Other names for podcasting exists, such as "net cast", intended as a vendor-neutral term without the loose reference to the Apple iPod. The name is used by shows from the network.[citation needed]


Main article: History of podcasting

Many people and groups including Dawn and Drew of The Dawn and Drew Show, Kris and Betsy Smith of Croncast and Dan Klass of The Bitterest Pill contributed to the early emergence and popularity of podcasts.[9] Former MTV VJ Adam Curry in collaboration with Dave Winer, a developer of RSS feeds, is credited with coming up with the idea to automate the delivery and syncing of textual content to portable audio players.[10][11][12]

From its humble beginnings to its rise as an instrumental agent of change, particularly in the broadcast arena, podcasting's mainstream acceptance has been documented and preserved for generations to come.

Podcasting, once an obscure method of spreading information, has become a recognized medium for distributing audio content, whether it be for corporate or personal use. A podcast is similar to a radio program with key differences. Listeners can tune into their favorite shows at their convenience and listen to podcasts directly on their iPod or their personal computer.

The first application to make this process feasible was iPodderX, developed by August Trometer and Ray Slakinski.[13] Since the 1930s there have been radio talk shows and news programs. By 2007, through the evolution of the internet capabilities, along with cheaper hardware and software, audio podcasts were doing what was historically done through radio broadcast stations.[12]

In June 2005, Apple released iTunes 4.9 with native support for podcasts. While this made receiving podcasts more convenient, it effectively ended advancement of the podcast medium by independent developers. To add to the cooling factor, Apple issued Cease and Desist orders to many podcast application developers and service providers for using the term "iPod" or "Pod" in the name of their product.[14]

The logo used by Apple to represent Podcasting

Trademark applications[edit]

February 10, 2005, Shae Spencer Management, LLC of Fairport, New York filed a trademark application to register the term "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.[15]

As of September 20, 2005, known trademarks that attempted to capitalize on podcast included: ePodcast, GodCast, GuidePod, MyPod, Pod-Casting, Podango, PodCabin, Podcast, Podcast Realty, Podcaster, PodcastPeople, Podgram PodKitchen, PodShop, and Podvertiser.[16]

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.[17]

Apple trademark protections[edit]

On September 26, 2004, it was reported that Apple had started to crack down on businesses using the string "POD", in product and company names. Apple sent a cease and desist letter that week to Podcast Ready, Inc., which markets an application known as "myPodder".[18] 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.[19] Such activity was speculated to be part of a bigger campaign for Apple to expand the scope of its existing iPod trademark, which included trademarking "IPOD", "IPODCAST", and "POD".[20] On November 16, 2006, the Apple Trademark Department stated that Apple does not object to third party usage of "the generic term" "podcast" to refer to podcasting services, and that Apple does not license the term. However, no statement was made as to whether or not Apple believed they held rights to it.[21]

Personal Audio lawsuits[edit]

Personal Audio, a company referred to as a "patent troll" by the Electronic Frontier Foundation,[22] filed a patent on podcasting in 2009 for a claimed invention in 1996.[23] In February 2013, Personal Audio started suing high-profile podcasters for royalties,[22] including The Adam Carolla Show and the HowStuffWorks podcast. US Congressman Peter DeFazio's previously proposed "SHIELD Act" intends to curb patent trolls.[24]

In October, 2013, the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a petition with the US Trademark Office to invalidate the Personal Audio patent.[25]

August 18, 2014, the Electronic Frontier Foundation announced that Adam Carolla had settled with Personal Audio.[26]


Enhanced podcasts[edit]

An enhanced podcast can display images synchronized with audio. These can contain chapter markers, hyperlinks, and artwork, all of which is synced to a specific program or device. When an enhanced podcast is played within its specific program or device, all the appropriate information should be displayed at the same time and in the same window, making it easier to display materials.[citation needed]

Podcast novels[edit]

A podcast novel (also known as a serialized audiobook or podcast audiobook) is a literary format that combines the concepts of a podcast and an audiobook. Like a traditional novel, a podcast novel is a work of long literary fiction; however, this form of novel is recorded into episodes that are delivered online over a period of time and in the end available as a complete work for download. The episodes may be delivered automatically via RSS, through a web site, blog, or other syndication method. These files are either listened to directly on a user's computer or loaded onto a portable media device to be listened to later.

The types of novels that are podcasted vary from new works from new authors that have never been printed,[27][28] to well established authors that have been around for years,[citation needed] to classic works of literature that have been in print for over a century.[29][30] In the same style as an audiobook, podcast novels may be elaborately narrated with separate voice actors for each character and sound effects, similar to a radio play. Other podcast novels have a single narrator reading the text of the story with little or no sound effects.

Podcast novels are distributed over the Internet, commonly on a weblog. Podcast novels are released in episodes on a regular schedule (e.g., once a week) or irregularly as each episode is released when completed, and can either be downloaded manually from a website or blog, or be delivered automatically via RSS or other method of syndication. Ultimately, a serialized podcast novel becomes a completed audiobook.[31]

Some podcast novelists give away a free podcast version of their book as a form of promotion.[32] Some such novelists have even secured publishing contracts to have their novels printed.[27][28] Podcast novelists have commented that podcasting their novels lets them build audiences even if they cannot get a publisher to buy their books. These audiences then make it easier to secure a printing deal with a publisher at a later date. These podcast novelists also claim the exposure that releasing a free podcast gains them makes up for the fact that they are giving away their work for free.[33]

Video podcasts[edit]

A video podcast on the Crab Nebula by NASA

A video podcast (sometimes shortened to "vodcast") includes video clips. Web television series are often distributed as video podcasts.

Dead End Days (2003-2004) is commonly believed to be the first video podcast. That serialized dark comedy about zombies was broadcast from 31 October 2003 through 2004.[34]

Since the spread of the Internet and the use of Internet broadband connection TCP, which helps to identify various applications, a faster connection to the Internet has been created and a wide amount of communication has been created. Video podcasts have become extremely popular online and are often presented as short video clips, usually excerpts of a longer recording. Video clips are being used on pre-established websites, and increasing numbers of websites are being created solely for the purpose of hosting video clips and podcasts. Video podcasts are being streamed on intranets and extranets, and private and public networks, and are taking communication through the Internet to whole new levels.[35]

Most video clips are now submitted and produced by individuals.[not specific enough to verify] Video podcasts are also being used for web television, commonly referred to as Web TV, a rapidly growing genre of digital entertainment that uses various forms of new media to deliver to an audience both reruns of shows or series and content created or delivered originally online via broadband and mobile networks, web television shows, or web series. Examples include Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix Original Programming. Other types of video podcasts used for web television may be short-form, anywhere from 2–9 minutes per episode, typically used for advertising, video blogs, amateur filming, journalism, and convergence with traditional media.[citation needed] Some popular video podcasts include the Yogpod[citation needed] and Rooster Teeth, which are both featured on iTunes, YouTube, and their own website.

Video podcasting is also helping build businesses, especially in the sales and marketing sectors. Through video podcasts, businesses both large and small can advertise their wares and services in a modern, cost-effective way. In the past, big businesses had better access to expensive studios where sophisticated advertisements were produced, but now even the smallest businesses can create high-quality media with just a camera, editing software, and the Internet.[36]


Main article: Uses of podcasting

Communities use collaborative podcasts to support multiple contributors podcasting through generally simplified processes, and without having to host their own individual feeds. A community podcast can also allow members of the community (related to the podcast topic) to contribute to the podcast in many different ways. This method was first used for a series of podcasts hosted by the Regional Educational Technology Center at Fordham University in 2005.[citation needed] Gronstedt explores how businesses like IBM and EMC use podcast as an employee training and communication channel.[37][38]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Podcast - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary". 2012-08-31. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  2. ^ "Podcast Production". President and Fellows of Harvard College. Retrieved 2009-08-21. episodes of a particular podcast 
  3. ^ "Audello Reviews | Podcast". Retrieved 2011-10-24. [dead link]
  4. ^ a b c d Berry, R. (2006). "Will the iPod Kill the Radio Star? Profiling Podcasting as Radio". Convergence: the International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies 12 (2): 143–162. doi:10.1177/1354856506066522.  edit
  5. ^ Ben Hammersley: "Audible revolution", The Guardian, 12 February 2004.
  6. ^ "Oxford Dictionaries Online — podcast". Retrieved 2013-02-24. 
  7. ^ "Apple adds podcasting to iTunes". BBC News. 28 June 2005. 
  8. ^ "Podcast - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary". 2012-08-31. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  9. ^ Heffernan, Virginia. "The Podcast as a New Podium", "The New York Times", July 25, 2005, accessed March 1, 2011.
  10. ^ Miller, Martin (21 May 2006). "'Podfather' plots a radio hit of his own". LA Times. 
  11. ^ "History of Podcasting, Origins of Podcasting". Retrieved 2012-12-18. 
  12. ^ a b Grundy, Benjamin (29 September 2007). "How Podcasting Works, History of Podcasting".; Retrieved 2012-12-17. 
  13. ^ "Podcast". Red Orbit. Retrieved 2013-05-25. 
  14. ^ With Pod on Lockdown Apple goes after Podcast, Evan Blass (, 24 Sep 2006
  15. ^ "Podcast trademark rejection". USPTO. 2006-01-06. Retrieved 2010-01-21. 
  16. ^ "How Podcasting Works, History of Podcasting".; Retrieved 2012-12-17. 
  17. ^ "List of US podcast trademarks". Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  18. ^ "Podcast Ready Cease and Desist". Podcast Ready<!. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  19. ^ Brian Heater. "Apple's Legal Team Going After "Pod" People". Retrieved 2012-12-17. 
  20. ^ "Podcast Trademark Controversy". 2006-09-25. Retrieved 2012-07-20. 
  21. ^ "Apple letter". Retrieved 2012-07-20. 
  22. ^ a b "Help Save Podcasting!". Electronic Frontier Foundation. May 30, 2013. Retrieved May 30, 2013. 
  23. ^ "System for disseminating media content representing episodes in a serialized ...". 
  24. ^ "Podcasting Community Faces Patent Troll Threat; EFF Wants to Help". Electronic Frontier Foundation. Retrieved 2012-02-28. Personal Audio is claiming that it owns a patent that covers podcasting technology 
  25. ^ "Cases: EFF v. Personal Audio, LLC". EFF. 
  26. ^ "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Adam Carolla's Settlement". August 2014. 
  27. ^ a b "Marketing your book in the internet age, CreativeChoices interview with John Lenahan". 2009-08-06. Retrieved 2012-07-20. 
  28. ^ a b "Authors Find Their Voice, and Audience, in Podcasts"
  29. ^ "Christmas Carol gets free podcast". BBC News. 2005-12-15. Retrieved 2012-07-20. 
  30. ^ "Classic Short Stories from LibriVox (Unabridged), iTunes Audio Podcasts". Retrieved 2012-07-20. 
  31. ^ Florin, Hector (2009-01-31). "Podcasting Your Novel: Publishing's Next Wave?". Retrieved 2012-07-20. 
  32. ^ "Take my book. It's free". San Francisco Chronicle. 2008-04-05. Retrieved 2012-07-20. 
  33. ^ "Free Really Can Make You Money – A Dialogue With Moses Siregar III, David Gaughran interview with Moses Siregar III". 2011-09-05. Retrieved 2012-07-20. 
  34. ^ "What is a Video Podcast? (with picture)". Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  35. ^ Shiao, Dennis (17 March 2011). "From Association Meetings to Corporate Events, Video is Everywhere". INXPO. Retrieved 8 June 2013. 
  36. ^ Watson, Stephanie (2005-03-26). "HowStuffWorks "Video Podcast"". Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  37. ^ Gronstedt, Anders (June 2007). "Employees Get an Earful". Harvard Business Review. 
  38. ^ Gronstedt, Anders (May 3, 2007). Basics Of Pod Casting (Infoline ASTD). ASTD. ISBN 1562864882. 

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