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Apple Wins New Patents for Podcasting


And dodges those pesky industry gatekeepers to boot. Power to the people!

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL It was back in 2005 that the New Oxford American Dictionary declared "podcasting" the Word of the Year, but the medium has gone from novelty to full-blown revolution in the past few years. Shows like This American Life and Wait Wait…Don't Tell Me! have made the leap from radio to the Internet with great success, while programs like WTF With Marc Maron have brought niche performers to prominence and created a brand-new business model for them in the process.

Apple (AAPL), with its accustomed soft spot for independent artists and content creators, was at the forefront of the medium for a while, making it tremendously easy to subscribe to and follow podcasts from very early on in the medium's history. In recent versions of Mac OS X, however, Apple's development of podcasting software has ebbed, with the exception of Garageband adding a podcasting template.

That's why today's announcement by the US Patent and Trademark Office that Apple has been granted 29 new patents is so exciting: One of those patents is for its podcasting technology.

According to Patently Apple, the improved techniques that Apple has patented run the gamut from hands-on things like podcast creation and publishing to bigger processes like subscription management. This could mean a massive overhaul for Apple's podcasting services, which spells delight for independent artists everywhere.

If Apple makes podcasting as easy as it's made music management, video editing, and personal computing in general, then the big entertainment companies like The Walt Disney Company (DIS) and Sony (SNE) might have to sit up and take notice.

More and more, content distribution is being put in the hands of the creators, and that creation itself has gotten cheaper and cheaper. If Marc Maron can make WTF in his garage and get 2.75 million downloads per month, then Apple may have found the best way around the entertainment industry's gatekeepers. The big companies will need to adapt quickly if they want to figure out a way to make money off all the content floating around.
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