New SplashCast Feature Ignites RSS Hijacking Controversy

May 2nd, 2007 | By | 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’s 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 “claim your feed” 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.

No Responses to “New SplashCast Feature Ignites RSS Hijacking Controversy”

  1. Ed Roberts says:

    Definitely something to keep an eye one. Re-purposing the feed amounts to an unauthorized mirror. We should have to visit their (or any 3rd party) site to get statistics for our OWN feed.

    I wonder if Creative Commons covers your feed as well. Anyone know?

  2. We’ll be exposing the original feed for podcasts in our player asap, hopefully by the end of the day. Part of what’s at issue is confusion about our model – that’s not a feed for Todd’s podcast that we’re exposing, that’s a feed for the whole SplashCast channel of which Todd’s podcast may be just one part. The idea of MyPodcastNetwork is to let people create a feed of feeds. Obviously it was a mistake though to not expose the individual podcast’s feed as well.

    We released this particular feature on Monday and between being on the road to a conference and engaging with feedback (much of which was very positive) – it’s Wednesday morning, we’re back home and now we’re going to solve the problems that initial feedback has illuminated. We’ll also be having a live chat later in the week to discuss what we’re doing. It’s going to be ok, though, I assure you.

  3. info says:


    I think your podcasting social network has a lot of potential, but it’s also significantly flawed.

    The biggest problem I see, though, is that it seems you haven’t involved podcasters in the development process. There are a lot of aspects of MyPodcastNetwork that serious podcasters are likely to have problems with, and they are problems that you should have been aware of.

    For MyPodcastNetwork to work, content producers will need to have an incentive to participate, and they won’t if you don’t respect their work.

    I know you say you’re going to fix the problems, but the fact that the problems are fundamental and obvious makes it look like you didn’t solicit content producers input at the development stage.

    Podcasters and bloggers are the leading edge of the first movers, and they are disproportionately vocal, so you don’t want to piss them off.

  4. […] New SplashCast Feature Ignites RSS Hijacking ControversyPodcasting News – 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‚Äôs content, distort podcasters‚Äô audience stats and interfere […]

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