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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Podcast Alley iTunes Ready Feed - Not a good idea for podcast producers

Despite what has been stated "on-air" by Adam Curry in his show, The Daily Source Code, and what is written in the information screen associated with the Podcast Alley iTunes Ready Feed, there are a number of reasons why podcasters should be wary of submitting this feed to the iTunes Podcasting Directory.

Note: As far as I know, these issues would only effect those users using iTunes as their only podcasting client. Listeners using other directories and subscribing using other podcasting clients would not be effected UNLESS they subscribe directly to the PA iTunes ready feed. Still, as we have seen, the number of users that iTunes is bringing to the podcasting market is significant and could effects hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of potential listeners, depending on the popularity of the podcast.

  • First, once the Podcast Alley feed is submitted and accepted by the iTunes directory, the podcast producer no longer has control over the the FINAL content of their feed. At any time, Podcast Alley, or their partners, could do the following:

    • Remove/block content from your feed, based on issues with the content or competition with Podcast Alley partners and affiliates...or any other reason

    • Insert audio advertisements into your podcast feed
      These advertisements would be downloaded automatically by your listeners as if they originated from you, the podcast producer, but you would have no say over the quantity, quality or content of these ads and, presumably receive no remuneration.

    • Insert other advertising content into your feed via video, JPEG, PDF, FLASH or other format...including existing adware/spyware programs

    • Effect a total re-direction of your feed to a different podcast with similar content -- or publish an invalid or empty feed -- effectively stripping your podcast of all iTunes subscribers or sending them elsewhere.

  • Second, an iTunes Ready Feed (meaning one that includes Apple RSS Extensions for podcast information) is NOT required to be included in the iTunes Podcast Directory. While my podcast Career Opportunities, was included in the directory at launch, I submitted an new podcast that had not been included. This podcast has been included with appropriate title, feed and description information, even though it lack the iTunes RSS extensions.

    Additionally, if you are already using FeedBurner to podcast-enable your current RSS feed, they have already committed to inclusion of all necessary iTunes RSS fields in a timely manner. FeedBurner also has a stated policy of how your FeedBurner feed may be altered and recently released a policy statement and features that allow you to easily and readily "recover" your FeedBurner feed and point it back to the original source feed, should you
    ever desire.

  • Third, before adding the iTunes Ready feed feature to Podcast Alley, users were not notified, nor asked to agree to any extension of the Podcast Alley user agreement.

    As far as I know, there is no information regarding the appropriate use of these feeds, how Podcast Alley might alter your content or how they might effect the copyright of your content, whether your shows are released under Creative Commons or strict copyright guidelines. Without such information, it would be unwise to rely on the iTunes Ready Feed as your sole source of input into the iTunes directory as there is no information on how it might be altered or used.

All podcasters should beware of any service that can alter the FINAL look and operation of their podcast RSS feed. Read user agreements carefully to insure that it includes opt-out guarantees and actively prevents the service from retaining total control over your podcast feed. Losing ultimate control over your this feed could result in the co-opting of your content and/or your listeners.


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