When This American Life switched from RealAudio to MP3 for its digitital distribution, Jared Udell and Jason Benedict took advantage by cobbling together RSS feeds that point to the files hosted by PRI. Instant podcast!
But the joy didn’t last. The This Life webmaster is going after the podcasters for copyright violation, for doing nothing more than providing links to the material that This Life is already offering.
Update: Jared has a rather gracious response to the request that he stop linking to the files:
While Ms. Meister did miss the mark by accusing us of copyright infringement without a clear understanding of what we were actually doing, or what copyright law allows, she was trying to be polite and friendly which I appreciate.
To be clear, I was not storing or making any copies of their work, I was simply providing links to publicly accessible MP3’s hosted on This American Life’s own servers. It is my position that hyperlinking to publicly accessible MP3’s is perfectly legal (see Ticketmaster v. Tickets.com) and fundamental to the existence of the web.
While I am confident that I am breaking no law, I am respecting TAL wishes by taking down the podcast and archive page which points to their MP3’s. This American Life has decided to take the bizarre approach to Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) by asking nicely… which I suppose is better than using some Windows only Microsoft Media Player DRM or Sony Rootkit DRM.
Jared goes on to express sympathy for TAL’s staff and contributors, all of whom are just trying to get paid, and also suggests that listeners/readers urge TAL to “either offer the content without barriers, or prepare to be replaced by someone else.” I get his appreciation that TAL didn’t immediately send the lawyers and a C&D letter, and I can imagine that the TAL produers aren’t rolling on swimming pools of money, but I also think it’s important to avoid not making a big deal simply because people like Public Radio International more than they like Sony.