New SplashCast Feature Ignites RSS Hijacking ControversyMay 2nd, 2007 | By James Lewin | Category: Commentary, General, Podcasting Networks, Podcasting Services
MyPodcastNetwork, a new social networking service for podcasting introduced yesterday by SplashCast, has ignited a controversy over podcasters’ concerns that the service is hijacking their content.
MyPodcastingNetwork lets users embed a podcast player in Web pages, similar to the way you can embed YouTube videos in Web and blog pages. What makes the player interesting, though, is that it‚Äôs not static audio or video that gets embedded, but a customized channel of podcast content that will automatically update as podcasters update their content.
What concerns many podcasters is that the service is republishing their podcast feeds and video files without permission. This could create confusion over the true source of the podcast’s content, distort podcasters’ audience stats and interfere with podcasters’ ability to make money off of their work.
All Your Podcasts Are Belong To Us
We highlighted our concerns about podcast caching or republishing in our coverage of SplashCasts’ new MyPodcastNetwork service yesterday. The problems with the service, though, go deeper.
Geek News Central’s Todd Cochrane points out that SplashCast is republishing podcasters’ news feeds. Todd’s Geek News Central feed becomes Geek News Central Podcast by SplashCast Feed Agent — SplashCast Channel at SplashCast.
While it’s common practice to offer services that build on the information contained within news feeds, and even to offer news feeds that contain content aggregated from other news feeds, republishing a podcast’s news feed with a new URL can create all sorts of problems for podcasters, and is considered RSS hijacking by many.
“I have no issue with a service aggregating ‚Äúaka‚Äù listing my content, as any exposure is good,” said Cochrane. “All was well untill I look at the RSS button on my splashcast profile and see that they have hijacked my feed.”
“They have set up links to eight different services for people to subscribe to my show on their site via this hijacked feed,” adds Cochrane. “I am not going to stand for that crap. This needs to be switched like yesterday, and if they are going to offer up my feed they need to use my ‚Äúoriginal‚Äù RSS feed and not one that they can use to drive traffic away from my site and skew my stats.”
SplashCast appears to be taking the issues that podcasters have raised seriously, but they haven’t offered a satisfactory response to the issues raised yet.
SplashCasts’s CEO Michael Berkley has posted a statement at their site:
Concern has also been raised around content ownership rights. These concerns boil down to the following issues:
- A) how we report analytics back to the podcast owners,
- B) how we provide link backs to podcast owners (we do this for video, but not yet audio), and
- C) how we expose the original podcast feed in the embeddable SplashCast player.
While engaging with the podcasting community, we are addressing each of these issues and will have solutions in forthcoming product updates. Some of the things we are pursuing at this moment include tighter integration with Feedburner when appropriate; adding auto-generated link backs for audio items (like we do with video); adding access in the player to the source feed URLs; and adding ‚Äúclaim your feed‚Äù capabilities (which will allow podcast owners to more closely control the media in their SplashCast channels, as well as receive rich data reporting). Further, podcast owners can opt-out of this service by contacting us and we will remove their feeds.
SplashCast could address most of the concerns raised by podcasters by changing the site’s podcast feed listings to use podcasters’ original feed URLs, and by requiring opt-in from publishers for any service that republishes their content.