SplashCast Service Introduction Turns Into Podcast Hijacking Controversy

May 3rd, 2007 | By | Category: Commentary, General, Podcasting Networks, Podcasting Services

SplashCast, a startup site that lets users create channels of media content, has found itself in hot water over its new MyPodcastNetwork service, a social networking service for podcasts introduced earlier this week. Instead of generating excitement in the podcasting community, the introduction has generated a furor of anger from podcasters that feel that SplashCast is hijacking their content.

‚ÄúThis service is directly affecting the ability of real content owners to get income from advertising dollars or whatever other business model they might employ,‚Äù commented Ken Medlock on the service’s introduction.

MyPodcastNetwork lets you create a channel of podcast content, built from one or more podcasts. You can then share your channel as an RSS feed or embed it as a Flash player into Web pages, similar to the way you can embed YouTube videos.

Podcasters have voiced many concerns over the ways SplashCast has implemented MyPodcastNetwork.

Their concerns include:

  • SplashCast is hijacking RSS feeds. SplashCast offers a republished podcast feed for each podcast. For example, Daryl Hannah‚Äôs podcast feed (http://dhlovelife.com/feed.xml) is republished as a splashcast.net feed (http://media.splashcast.net/xml/feeds/LPTU4833MN.xml) This could confuse subscribers and steal income from the publisher. SplashCast could address this concern by not offering feeds for individual podcasts.
  • SplashCast is republishing people‚Äôs content without their permission. The site republishes video podcasts, for example, instead of pointing viewers to the original content. This is being done for technical reasons, according to the company. ‚ÄúWe cache non-FLV video podcast files on our servers just so we can transcode them to play in our Flash player,‚Äù explains SplashCast‚Äôs Marshall Kirkpatrick. Unfortunately, this means the podcaster loses viewers to SplashCast and could lose income. SplashCast could address this concern by requiring opt-in from podcasters prior to republishing their content.
  • SplashCast is stripping podcaster‚Äôs information from feed items. For example, the podcast feed for Robert Scoble‚Äôs video podcast, ScobleShow, (http://www.podtech.net/scobleshow/feed/) has nine links in one show ‚Äúitem‚Äù that point back to Scoble‚Äôs site. The SplashCast feed for ScobleShow (http://web.splashcast.net/catalog/channel_details.aspx?code=RHEN7094VH) has zero links in the item for PodTech. This steals traffic away from podcasters and could also violate the podcaster‚Äôs copyright. SplashCast could address this concern by retaining the information from podcasters‚Äô feeds when including items into aggregated feeds.

In addition to specific complaints about SplashCast’s new service, the overarching concern of many podcasters is that SplashCast is hijacking their content and that the company should know better. In 2006, PodShow found itself in a similar podcast hijacking controversy when it introduced a new version of its directory that republished podcasters’ content under podshow.com URLs.

Because of the furor that the MyPodcastNetwork introduction has created, SplashCast has been offering daily responses via their blog. They deny accusations that they are hijacking podcasters’ feeds, and instead suggest that the controversy is a result of podcasters being confused about their service.

“Is our new MyPodcastNetwork feature hijacking podcasters’ RSS feeds?” asks SplashCast’s Marshall Kirkpatrick. “No. Some people are confused by the fact that SplashCast lets users publish collections of media items, including RSS feeds.”

SplashCast could eliminate this “confusion” by:

  • removing SplashCast feeds of individual podcasts;
  • requiring opt-in before they republish video podcasts; and
  • retaining podcasters‚Äô feed information for shows (items) when aggregating items into SplashCast feeds.

“They want to continue hijacking RSS feeds,” responds podcaster Todd Cochrane, “while implementing some measures to try and make those of us calling them out go away.”

3 Responses to “SplashCast Service Introduction Turns Into Podcast Hijacking Controversy”

  1. Well…it’s another day and we’re working another round of changes based on the feedback from what we changed yesterday.¬†¬†I think people will find these next steps all the more helpful in mitigating issues people are raising.¬†¬†For example, we’re working on removing SplashCast channel feeds from the display of channels that only contain one podcast RSS feed – leaving only that show’s own feed.¬†¬†No sense getting an aggregated feed of feeds if there’s only one feed being fed, if you know what I mean.¬†¬†We’re also adding another layer of links back to the permalinks of the files delivered by the feeds added to SplashCast.¬†¬†To be clear, we provide anyone the ability to add any feed with media enclosures to their collection and thus to the directory – the vast majority of feeds in our directory are fan-added, not added by SplashCast.

    Finally, re Ken Medlock’s concern in the post above: audio podcasters are getting all traffic via SplashCast sent to their own original files, so it should increase their traffic based revenue, not decrease it.¬†¬†We’ll be trying to find ways to direct traffic to video podcasts back to the original file as well.

    It’s been tumultuous times over this past week, lots of ups and downs, but lots of people are providing feedback and suggestions (some more amiably than others) which we are working as fast as we can to incorporate.¬†It’s going to work out, and if you feel like it isn’t then you can opt out – though that would mean you’d miss out on all the content aggregation fun to be had. Even many of our critics like what we’re TRYING to do, so please bear with us while we work out the details. We’re working as fast as we can. 🙂 See our blog for ongoing updates.

  2. […] We discuss a conversation I had with Marshall Kirkpatrick of Splashcast about their blogger and podcaster relations campaign to deal with concerns arising from their new MyPodcastNetwork service […]

  3. […] We discuss a conversation I had with Marshall Kirkpatrick of Splashcast about their blogger and podcaster relations campaign to deal with concerns arising from their new MyPodcastNetwork service […]

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