Ourmedia Launches Free Community Site For Podcasters And Vloggers

Ourmedia Launches Community Site For Podcasters And VloggersSee our interview with co-founder of OurMedia, JD Lasica

OurMedia is a new community site providing online media creators a place where they can publish their content and share it with others, for free.

That last bit is important. Free. Nowt. Zip. Nada.

Anyone who creates digital media – whether it be podcasts, video blogs, photos, whatever – will soon learn that there’s no such thing as ‘free’ web space when you’re looking for a place to host those large media files.

Either you have to put up with a web page plastered with adverts or you’ll be lumbered with punitive restrictions on your bandwidth allowance.

Once you’ve got your latest artistic meisterwork online, the next problem is letting people know about it – unless you’ve got a degree in marketing or a hefty advertising budget, your video may get less hits than the Wurzels.

But – oh the cruel irony! – if by chance your work does become the hit’o’the web, you’ll be busting through your bandwidth allowance like an over-excited steam train and face having your page pulled by your web host – or be lumbered with wallet-draining excess fees.

And here’s where the self-styled “grassroots media organisation” OurMedia come in.

Using their service, video bloggers can log into the site, use the ‘upload’ tool to transfer their 50 meg video onto their server and waheey! – the file is now hosted online, complete with its own Creative Commons license – and with no bandwidth or file size restrictions.

Ourmedia Launches Community Site For Podcasters And VloggersBecause it’s a community site, multimedia files can now potentially be seen and shared by thousands of people, with film makers and video buffs able to link to each other’s work, pool resources and share tips.

So what’s the catch? Well, none really, so long as you’re the sharing, caring kind.

Supported by free storage space from the Internet Archive, a nonprofit digital library backed by the entrepreneur Brewster Kahle, ourmedia’s mission statement explains that they are a “free, not-for-profit effort to create a global home for grassroots media”.

Their mission is to provide a “resource to bring homemade video, audio, music, photos, text and public domain works into an easy-to-access network” with the site acting as a “clearinghouse” to allow others to “search for video or music, download it, and reuse or remix it, with proper attribution. All legally.”

After the huge success of text blogging, pundits are predicting that video blogging (vlogging) could be one of the Next Big Things to hit the web, with a new audience tuning into alternative on-demand services, like a sort of alternative TiVo online.

Ourmedia.org The idea must be good, their servers appear a little slow

Interview With JD Lasica, Co-Founder, Ourmedia.org

During our preparation of our news piece on the launch of OurMedia today, we had a quick chat with JD Lasica, that we thought you might like to see. It gives a glimpse of the future for Ourmedia.

Ourmedia Launches Community Site For Podcasters And Vloggers DL: Is the site entirely bankrolled by Brewster Kahle (The Internet Archive) or are there plans to raise revenue through advertising/affiliate programs etc?

JD Lasica: The Internet Archive is providing free storage and bandwidth, and that won’t change. We’re also getting subsidized hosting from Bryght (a Drupal site), and Marc Canter’s Broadband Mechanics has kicked in some dough to pay for some programmers in New Delhi to get us across the finish line. Other than that, it’s been an entirely open source effort.

We plan to meet soon with some foundations. An infusion of grant monies would go a long way toward taking us to the next level. We have a very long road map of features and improvements we’re planning.

Marc and I are still discussing revenue models. We won’t clutter up the site with banner ads. But we are open to the prospect of corporate sponsors in addition to foundation underwriters. It certainly seems that the kinds of digital creativity we’re helping to enable would attract a wide swath of companies involved with helping consumers create personal media.

DL: Sadly, I imagine that scammers, spammers, porn merchants and ne’er do wells will be attracted to this venture like a moth to a flame. What measures have you in place to keep these undesirables at bay – or will the site remain a free-for-all with no censorship (past legal necessities)?

JD Lasica: It won’t be a free for all. We have a good-sized team of moderators around the world (including Britain) who will be watching everything that’s published on the site. The two big rules are: no porn and no copyrighted material (unless it falls within the scope of what we Yanks call fair use).

We won’t be the censorship police, so we expect a wide range of media that won’t be to everyone’s tastes. For those who violate our site rules, we’ll be relying on our team of volunteer moderators to shut them down, much as Wikipedia does.

DL: What measures have you taken in case of copyright disputes?

JD Lasica: Our site rules spell out the steps a copyright owner should take if he or she believes their copyright has been infringed. We respect U.S. copyright laws, so you won’t see Metallica mp3s winding up here — unless Lars himself uploads them.

DL: Is there a long term plan as such, or are you going to ‘go with flow’ and see where the venture takes you?

JD Lasica: We have a long road map of immediate features, functionalities and fixes that need addressing, and a longer-term plan for versions 2 and 3, which will incorporate more social networking functions, ratings, improved search, and so on.

DL: You mention that you will be getting involved with P2P – are there any other technologies up your sleeve?

JD Lasica: We’ll be looking at BitTorrent right away. I’m attaching a press release about some of the other things we’re doing.

One interesting item that will be rolling out soon: We’ll be working with Jon Udell and Doug Kaye to devise a standard for what we’re calling a media clipping service. Users will be able to cite a particular portion of a video or audio clip (a 2-minute dialogue that falls in the middle) rather than just point to the entire clip.

Here’s our version 2 roadmap as of this moment: http://www.socialtext.net/ourmedia/

DL: Thanks for sparing us time when you must be busy.

JD Lasica is co-founder of Ourmedia.org, author of “Darknet: Hollywood’s War Against the Digital Generation” (May 2005) and Senior editor of the Online Journalism Review.

He also writes the following blogs:


‘Podvertising’ Supports Virgin Radio Daily Podcast

Virgin Radio Starts Sponsored Daily PodcastVirgin Radio is making highlights of its breakfast show available for digital audio players like the iPod, in what it claims is a first for “podcasting”.

The station began making its Pete and Geoff show available to download today, saying it is the first UK station to podcast a daily show.

Podcasting allows audio programmes to be downloaded and later replayed on a computer or popular digital audio players such as iPods, Creative Zens or Walkmans.

Virgin Radio Starts Sponsored Daily PodcastThe BBC has already been experimenting with the new audio distribution model, introducing weekly podcasts of Five Live’s weekly sports quiz Fighting Talk after a successful trial using Melvyn Bragg’s ‘In Our Time’ series on Radio 4, downloaded by more than 70,000 users.

Listeners can sign up to the service on Virgin’s Website, with a link encouraging users to download the free iPodder desktop software for Windows, Mac and Linux.

Once subscribed to the service, listeners will get the latest show highlights every time they synchronise their MP3 player with their computer.

The Virgin podcast sidesteps the still-unresolved copyright issues of distributing music via podcasting by simply editing it all out – Virgin will serve up a half-hour edit of its four-hour breakfast show with all the music, news, weather, traffic and travel cut out.

Interestingly, the UK government Central Office of Information and online travel company Expedia are sponsoring the service via what Virgin cringingly describes as “podvertising”.

Virgin Radio sales director Lee Roberts said: “Radio stations have to adapt to the changing market and new platforms in order to create new revenue channels. We’re proud to be the first with podvertising.”

The Virgin sponsorship deal ensures that their podcasts will be relatively ad-free, although some advertisers may be reluctant to invest too heavily in a format where the ‘fast forward’ key only an iPod twitch away.

Pod casting has already taken off in the United States but has been slow to find an audience in Europe.

Virgin Radio Starts Sponsored Daily PodcastAlthough the format is already creating a few podcasting stars, it has to be said that most of the thousands of personal radio broadcasts currently available to download are home-made, rough-edged, and, frankly, pretty crap.

With increasing sales of MP3 players sales, there’s every possibility that Virgin’s commercial initiative may help push the format into the mainstream.

Virgin Radio Podcasts
Adam Curry Wants to Make You an iPod Radio Star (Wired)

HD Radio – More Channels or Music Sales to Bring Income?

The US radio industry is looking to make additional income from music downloads, we’re told by Reuters – while listening to the radio, they’ll be able to select the playing track for paid download.

The piece announces the catch-all snappy name of HD Radio, that’s iBiquity Digital’s offering, which digitised the FM and AM bands. European readers will be well aware of equivalent FM services under the banner of DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) which has been available for a considerable period of time, and the currently lesser known drm (Digital Radio Mondial, not Digital Rights Management) which offers FM-quality listening on the AM frequencies.

The benefits brought by HD Radio/DAB/drm are digital compression of the audio, enabling more radio stations to be broadcast on the same amount of frequency. As the broadcast is digital, additional information can be distributed with it, such as the name of the artist and track playing.

As with all things compressed for digital distribution, there is a balacing act between number of stations and the audio quality of those stations. Digital doesn’t have to equal quality. The quality of the audio isn’t assured – the amount of the compression directly controls the quality.

US “terrestrial radio”, as it is being called by some to differentiate it from its satellite-delivered competitor, is under pressure from numerous sources; satellite radio (XM AND Sirius); Nokia’s Visual Radio; Internet-based radio stations; digital music player; podcasting, and don’t appear to have acted that quickly to respond.

The current cost of radios to receive HD radio are in the range of $500-$1,000 (~€382-€764, ~£270-£540), but as we’ve seen in the UK with DAB, it’s just a matter of time before these drop to the £49 (~€70, ~$91) levels, as more efficient chip sets become developed and a mass market is formed.

We found the comments by Jeff Littlejohn, executive vice president of distribution development at the dominant US radio station company, Clear Channel, the most illuminating, “We don’t think the business model associated with downloads is nearly as attractive as adding additional audio channels.”

In Clear Channels view there’s still more money to be made from advertising revenue than from music downloads, not least because they don’t have to share the revenue raised with the record companies – who are not known for their willingness to take small proportion of sales.

Radio Broadcasters Mull Digital Music Stores: Reuters

Podcasting Primed, BBC Radio MP3 download success

BBC Radio has for the last month been making some of its radio show available for MP3 download. Is this news? Well yes, previously they’ve always streamed their content, so you had to by your computer to receive it. With downloads you’ve been able to take it with you.

It actually started with this years The Reith Lectures, which over the ten weeks it was available, had around 50,000 downloads. It has now grown considerably to the point where Melvyn Braggs show, In Our Time, had 70,000 downloads in November. The weekly BBC Radio 4 show was available to download for seven days after broadcast. Not only is it downloadable, but it’s also available as a Podcast. If you’re not sure what a Podcast is, you should read on. Digital Lifestyles was told by the BBC on Friday that in November, there were 100,000 hits on their Podcast (RSS) file for In Our Time.

As regular readers of Digital Lifestyles will know, we are big believers in what we see as the effective rebirth of radio – the delivery of audio pieces over the Internet for playback on people’s portable music players. Over the last few months this hard-to-encapsulate idea has happily gained the moniker, ‘Podcasting’, but don’t be fooled by the iPod reference, this is for all music players.

Strictly speaking Podcasting is slightly more than just the Internet delivery of the material, it’s also about automating the process. By using an application like the open source, iPodder, listeners simply select the Podcasters their interested hearing from and the content is automatically gathered for them. This apparent magic is achieved by combining a couple of already existing technologies, RSS and FTP. RSS (Really Simple Syndication) has until now mostly be used to gather news updates but hidden in its specification is the ability to point to enclosures, in this case MP3 audio files. FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is then used to download the sound files to computer. All of this happens without the listens involvement.

Simon Nelson, Controller of BBC Radio & Music Interactive is clearly excited about it: “We’ve been surprised and delighted by the demand for downloads of what is one of our most challenging programmes; it demonstrates the public’s appetite for new ways of listening. Of course we recognise that we can’t offer all programmes in this way but we look forward to working with rights holders to explore ways we could learn from developments like this to drive radio listening forward.”

These ideas have been bubbling around the blog world and it just starting to hit the main stream. The impact of this form of distribution will be significant. The barriers to anyone having their own radio station are removed. Of course, any form of enclosure can be catered for, including video. Beware broadcast TV, look out TiVo.

BBC Radio 4, In our Time
BBC Radio 4, In our Time – Podcast