This call for prior art is part of EFF's effort to bust a patent being asserted against podcasting. Read more about the initiative here. Help narrow US patent applications before they become patents HERE

This issued patent relates to a system for distributing serial episodes of media content over the Internet.


  • Patent Number: US 8,112,504
  • Assignee: Personal Audio, LLC
  • Prior Art Cutoff Date: Prior art must predate October 2, 1996


The patent generally relates to a system whereby a server provides media content to client devices over the Internet. On the server, the provider maintains a “compilation file,” which is essentially a list of available media files. The compilation file generally includes the URL for each available media file in a series and may also include descriptive text. This compilation file may be static, such as a simple web page with links to each available file to which new files are added, or may be customized for a particular user, perhaps only showing them content from feeds to which they have subscribed.

The claim that has been asserted against podcasters to date is Claim 31. This claim is agnostic as to the media type representing “episodes.” It can be images, text, video, or audio. Prior art can involve any media format. Some dependent claims specifically require audio, however, so prior art of that type is especially useful.

Claim 31: Apparatus for disseminating a series of episodes represented by media files via the Internet as said episodes become available, said apparatus comprising:

  • one or more data storage servers,
  • one or more communication interfaces connected to the Internet for receiving requests received from remotely located client devices, and for responding to each given one of said requests by downloading a data file identified by a URL specified by said given one of said requests to the requesting client device,
  • one or more processors coupled to said one or more data storage servers and to said one or more communications interfaces for:

    • storing one or more media files representing each episode as said one or more media files become available, each of said one or more media files being stored at a storage location specified by a unique episode URL;

    • from time to time, as new episodes represented in said series of episodes become available, storing an updated version of a compilation file in one of said one or more data storage servers at a storage location identified by a predetermined URL, said updated version of said compilation file containing attribute data describing currently available episodes in said series of episodes, said attribute data for each given one of said currently available episodes including displayable text describing said given one of said currently available episodes and one or more episode URLs specifying the storage locations of one or more corresponding media files representing said given one of said episodes; and

    • employing one of said one or more communication interfaces to:

      • (a) receive a request from a requesting client device for the updated version of said compilation file located at said predetermined URL;
      • (b) download said updated version of said compilation file to said requesting client device; and
      • (c) thereafter receive and respond to a request from said requesting client device for one or more media files identified by one or more corresponding episode URLs included in the attribute data contained in said updated version of said compilation files.

REPRESENTATIVE PRIOR ART: Examples of prior art include the prior art identified on the face of the patent and Deb Kumar Roy (June 1995), NewsComm: A Hand-Held Interface for Interactive Access to Structured Audio, available at http://dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/handle/1721.1/60444/33214083.pdf?sequence=1

QUESTION: Have you seen any additional prior art (published before October 2, 1996) that describes a system like the one in Claim 31?

We are interested in any prior art that describes accessing a series of media files organized as episodes, tracks, installments, or the like, through the use of “compilation” data that (a) available to be downloaded by a client device, and (b) updated to describe the media files that are currently available. We are particularly interested in prior art where this “compilation” data includes both URLs for the individual media files, and some other displayable text describing each available episode/track/installment.

If you do know prior art, please submit evidence of that prior art as an answer below. Please submit only one piece of prior art per answer below. We welcome multiple prior art proposals from the same individual, but please create separate answers for each one so the community can vet each individual piece of prior art independently.

For details about what makes good prior art, please see our FAQ. Once you have submitted prior art, check back soon to see if the Ask Patents community has chosen your prior art as a candidate to submit to the United States Patent & Trademark Office. If you'd like to contribute in another way, please vote or comment on submissions made below. And we welcome you to post your own request for prior art if you know of another questionable patent or patent application. Thanks for participating!


111 Answers 111


The paper from The Journal of the Audio Engineering Society called The Digital Audio Processing Station cited as prior art date back 1986, not 1996.

It is understood that it is most likely a typo. It might also indicates that the examiners did overlook the "prior art" section since it is an obvious mistake.


For a few decades, Glenn Hauser of Enid, OK, USA, has been distributing World of Radio audio weekly via the 'net. The current audio archive, going back to 2005 is here (oldest episode there is #1282). The show is a review of international broadcasting, primarily shortwave.

As a former DX-er, I remember grabbing real player audio files from his site (pre-RSS) back in the mid '90s. An email to him might produce more definite, pre-1996-10-02 information. Contact info for him is on the main WOR page.

The Wayback Machine's earliest crawl was on 2001-10-22 and that copied page shows downloadable episodes #1096 to #1101, dates 2001-09-12 forward to 2001-10-17, in .rm format.

Good luck.


I worked on this product which consisted of a local database on CDROM and a connected website. The site augmented the CDROM title and allowed the user to search for and download audio clips for music. The application ran on macs and pc's and would request new content from the server. The user could click a button to download and listen to the audio clip.

The music match website itself might be sufficient. User could browser music titles and listen to audio samples.

The link below is from an oct 10th 1996 press release. Obviously, the product was developed and operational well before the 2nd of October.


This is a quote from the above link showing the online component.

The Billboard Music Guide CD-ROM directly links to Creative Multimedia's entertainment website, MusicMatch (URL: musicmatch.com), where users can search or browse a music database containing 165,000 albums. MusicMatch features an electronic retail component, so users can buy albums and music-related items.


The website http://www.twatech.org/ began operation on Monday, October 10, 2005 and was dedicated to releasing audio podcasts submitted by the community. The site had a rss feed and tried to release shows each week day. The shownotes included links, and additional information to support the podcast. The site rebranded and continued as hackerpublicradio.org.

  • Is "2005" a typo? I believe we need substantial evidence existing prior to 02 Oct 1996 -- preferably years older.
    – R.E.
    Jun 26, 2013 at 16:07
  • No, "2005" is not a typo. The first copy of www.twatech.org in the internet archive is from that year. 2005 is indeed too recent to be useful, I guess the OP overlooked the relevant date.
    – JoeG
    Jun 29, 2013 at 18:20

Here are a few other patents that might help. US Patent 5,557,541 was filed in 1994.

I worked for the company in 1997. Company was audiohighway.com. It went out of business. You can look them up on waybackmachine.com.

I think the patents/assets are owned by Sony now. I still have connections to the founder on this start-up who can confirm the patents,etc.

Whatever, hope this helps. If not, sorry

^ 5,557,541: Apparatus for subscription and on-demand audio programming ^ 5,572,442: System for distributing subscription and on-demand audio programming ^ 5,841,979: Enhanced delivery of audio data ^ 6,549,942: Enhanced delivery of audio data for portable playback; and 5,914,941: Portable information storage/playback apparatus having a data interface.


On the Amiga from 1985 there were the Fish Disks, a series of disks that contained shareware:


These disks were published in a series and distributed over Bulletin Boards. There was a version called Frozen Fish specifically for publishing to BBS.


These disks contained many types of media, included animations and music.


How about magazines on tape for the blind and visually impaired?

"The National Talking Express is a monthly stereo tape magazine for the blind and visually impaired. It was launched in 1979 and was the first tape magazine in the UK to go stereo. It has a national and international membership."


  • 1
    This example doesn't have servers, files, communication interfaces, URLs, client devices, downloading, etc. so it is not very relevant.
    – George White
    Jun 4, 2013 at 21:17

"The Spot" was an episodic online "soap opera" that featured text entries, photos and videos. It launched in the summer of 1995.



Since this is media-type-agnostic, could this claim be applied to webcomics? It specifies episodes... I'm thinking of the long-running episodic strip 'Kevin and Kell' (http://www.kevinandkell.com), launched September 3 1995.


[Agree with usenet as prior art for distributing information.]

The patent is very specific; most current systems (like iTunes) don't I think use "a [single "index" -Ed] file placed in a predetermined download file directory assigned a [predetermined -Ed] filename..."

"The file 145 is placed in a predetermined FTP download file directory and assigned a filename known to the player 103. At a time determined by player 103 monitoring the time of day clock 106, a dial up connection is established via the service provider 121 and the Internet to the FTP server 125 and the download compilation 145 is transferred to the program data store 107 in the player 103."


As a computer science and information systems major, I find this patent laughable. This "invention" basically describes the protocols for requesting and delivering -ANY- files stored on the Internet that occur in sequence or "episodic" format, including blogs, podcasts, software updates, driver updates and security updates. I would consider broaden your "prior art" search into those areas as well. If that applies, and I think it does, then your "prior art" extends all the way back to ARPAnet and the original dialup BBS networks that hosted episodic news articles.

As to specific art, I am aware of a specific example of this concept that is available that predates the patent - the "Cambridge Digital Interactive Television Trial", one of the first video-on-demand (VOD) efforts, dates back to September of 1994. This predates the claimant's patent by more than two years and was the subject of a published press release on March 30th, 1995 (text of release accessed from http://acorn.chriswhy.co.uk/docs/Acorn/PR/Cambridge_Consumers_move_into_21st_Century_with_interactive_TV.txt ). I suspect this shoots the claimant's patent out of the proverbial waters on the grounds of both obviousness and non-originality.


Check out Carl Malamud. He seems to be worthy of some interest. Keywords to search are Carl Malamud, Internet Multicasting Service. Hope this helps guys!

"Internet radio was pioneered by Carl Malamud. In 1993, Malamud launched "Internet Talk Radio" which was the "first computer-radio talk show, each week interviewing a computer expert.".[3][4] The first Internet concert was broadcast on June 24, 1993 by the band Severe Tire Damage[5][6]"


arl Malamud (born 1959) is a technologist, author, and public domain advocate, known for his foundation public.resource.org. He was the founder of the Internet Multicasting Service. During his time with this group, he was responsible for creating the first Internet radio station,[1] for putting the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's EDGAR database on-line,[2] and for creating the Internet 1996 World Exposition.[3] Malamud is the author of eight books, including Exploring the Internet and A World's Fair.[4][5] He was a visiting professor at the MIT Media Laboratory and was the former chairman of the Internet Software Consortium. He also was the co-founder of Invisible Worlds, was a fellow at the Center for American Progress, and was a board member of the non-profit Mozilla Foundation.[6][7]


1993, The Computer Chronicles, The Internet.

http://youtu.be/HyZAbr7Xwrs -> 17:00 forward


May 15, 1992

Communications architecture and buffer for distributing information services

US 5341474


A store-and-forward architecture which stores and distributes information programs to subscribers includes: information warehouses which archive information programs and dispense information programs in segments to central offices in bursts; central offices which manage subscriber's requests for service and buffer segments of information programs for delivery to subscribers in real-time under the subscriber's interactive control; and customer premises equipment.


Article titled "Birth of BMAG," published Spring 1994 in BMUG newsletter, which I have in my possession.

The article describes an electronically published magazine called BMAG, with multiple issues, the first of which was published in 1993. Issues would be uploaded to the BMUG BBS, users could view the list of magazine issues in the file listing, and users could download the ones they chose.


Chaosradio is available online monthly since January 1996 (in German).

Here is the Archive: http://chaosradio.ccc.de/chaosradio.html


WFMU Radio was offering MP3s and sound bites of their radio programs from very early on... but the way back machine only has it starting in 1997: http://web.archive.org/web/19970629060648/http://www.wfmu.org/sounds.html

  • Documentation of the starting date would be useful: "Prior art must predate October 2, 1996". As you stated, the wayback machine page is only from 1997.
    – Ron J.
    Jun 12, 2013 at 14:42

The radio comedy group Firesign Theatere did a "Great Internet Broadcast" in May 1996. http://www.radiofreeoz.com/?s=1996

Additionally, according to Wikipedia, in 1996 Firesign Theatere member Peter Bergman "began placing radio-show-like comedy sound bites on his own Internet-based comedy radio station, www.rfo.net. 'The show will be the Internet's funny bone,' Bergman said." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Firesign_Theatre#Other_projects

Unfortunately, the Wikipedia link to the article confirming this is dead. But it later became the Radio Free Oz podcast.


I feel a bit silly for adding anything since most of what I've found has already been mentioned. However since I can't uplink, which is also silly because how can you build support if people just finding this can't vote for things they think are relevant, I figured I'd add my 2 cents.

I think that Carl Malamud's Internet Talk Radio, that other's have mentioned, is the most applicable, since it started in 1993 and was episodic in that he interviewed Computer Experts each week, meaning the content was similar. Additionally, as cited in Wikipedia, the content had to be downloaded to listen to it. I didn't see the following site mentioned. It's an effort to "rescue" the content from Internet Talk Radio. http://museum.media.org/radio/ Here is the Wikipedia article about "Internet Talk Radio". While there are no citations an experienced lawyer could likely find more legitimate info about this. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_talk_radio

Even Wikipedia's "History of Podcasting" cites earlier references to people doing "podcasting" prior to Personal Audio's patent. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_podcasting

In addition to that I do wonder if an argument could be made that if the Patent office issued patents later that were similar in description and scope, that that in itself would make the patent invalid, or at least not arguable in court. I came across the following patents, issued later, that basically describe the same type of device. If they were issued, one could argue that Personal Audio's patent was not unique. http://www.google.com/patents/US7933171 http://www.google.com/patents/US5481509 http://www.patentlens.net/patentlens/patents.html?patnums=US_8090130&returnTo=quick.html

While I couldn't find a patent for the Personal Jukebox, developed by Compaq back in 1999, someone with more skill in Patent searches might find something. While it doesn't pre-date this patent, the fact that the US Patent Office gave a patent for something like this, after the Personal Audio patent, might be arguable. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_Jukebox http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/01/19/how_hp_invented_the_market/

Things become even more interesting when you look at Personal Audio specifically. I'm no patent attorney but according to a Patent search while this patent technically goes back to 1996, the documentation says it wasn't filed until March of 2009 and wasn't even published until Feb 2012. Again, I don't know the ins and outs of Patent Law but as a layman...sure I can say I came up with something on a certain date, but if I don't file for that idea until almost 13 years later...My Loss! www.google.com/patents/US8112504

On top of those details, Personal Audio filed a separate Patent for pretty much the exact same thing. Again I'm not a patent attorney, just a user, so if my interpretation is off...I apologize. But then it seems like these Patent Trolls interpret things in their own way too. It's "priority date", which I'm guessing is the date of conception is almost two years later the same as the filing date. But it's Publish Date is almost a year before the Publish date of the Patent that is being used to sue podcasters. https://www.google.com/patents/EP2290972A2

So Personal Audio could essentially sue itself for Patent infringement, at least based on my interpretation.

On top of all of that...Personal Audio doesn't even claim to have a Patent on Podcasting until 2/7/2012, as evidenced in their own Press Release. So it's not like they were contacting Podcasters prior to that saying... "You might infringe on this patent when it's finally published, but we did say we invented it back in 1996 and Submitted it in 2009. But...be careful, just in case." http://personalaudio.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/2012-12-30-Podcasting-Patent-Issued-Press-Release1.pdf

The Patent System definitely needs and overhaul. I personally have thought, should I patent this idea and become a patent troll when someone else actually makes or work, or pay someone to make it work. IMHO, unless the technology has been demonstrated in at least a very minimal way, it should not be approved by the Patent Office. Something to think about...at one point Marijuana Growers were patenting their "variety" of marijuana plant. Then someone noticed and was like...Whoa! Those were all invalidated.

Everything said here... https://defendinnovation.org/ Pretty much says it all. Number 4 in particular. If I can prove that my code isn't exactly the same as someone else's code, then I'm not infringing. And if there is no code from the Patent owner...Oh well. Having worked for a software company, I know we come up with the code for a certain function. We don't go through all the patent records and try to make some abstract idea work. No one has time for that.


Published 01-01-1996 by the Santa Clara Computer and High Technology Law Journal: Dissemination of Digitzed Music on the Internet: A Challenge to the Copyright Act http://digitalcommons.law.scu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1197&context=chtlj

Beginning on page 106:

C. The Technology of Digital Dissemination In Use

This section examines two independent on-line services that specialize in providing computer users with digitized music: The Independent Underground Music Archive and the Cerberus Celestial Jukebox. Although both of these services make only authorized use of the music they disseminate, the methods they use, and the success they have achieved, foreshadow the potential for copyright infringement on the Internet. Their success also illustrates the potential positive aspects of digital dissemination if copyrighted works can be protected on-line.

  1. The Internet Underground Music Archive

In November 1993, two computer science majors at University of California at Santa Cruz founded the Internet Underground Music Archive (IUMA). The two students took $20,000 in personal savings and set up the free, on-line digitized music dissemination system, which allows unknown bands to have their music heard around the world via the Intemet. In addition to placing digitized demo tapes of the bands on-line, the IUMA allows the artists to place graphics and text on the Internet. The system also provides access to statistics showing how many times a band's material has been downloaded.6 1 The IUMA, which allows computer users to access the music on-line free-of-charge, relies on donations from the participating bands to keep the service going.

Archive.org has a collection of files from IUMA. Example link: http://archive.org/details/iuma-straight_roots


Agree with an above poster, this collection is very interesting: http://museum.media.org/radio/

The collection is rooted in broadcasts which are identified as being streamed on the Internet, but, it is logical that many of these would have also provided downloads.

Followed a link on that page here: http://town.hall.org/radio/HellsBells/

This "press release" from Thu, 23 Sep 1993, shows that this is an 8 part series, and lists the name of a downloadable audio file: http://seclists.org/interesting-people/1993/Sep/98

The Internet Wayback Machine confirms these were available for download from the page at the first link during and/or before 1999, would be great to figure out if that page had changed since 1996: http://web.archive.org/web/19990219121409/http://town.hall.org/radio/HellsBells/

  • Another confirmation of the 9/23/93 Email: markmail.org/thread/jay3iyllxqsdu36m
    – Trey
    Jun 20, 2013 at 18:46
  • Greg McVicar is listed as the producer of the program: zoominfo.com/p/Gregg-McVicar/5527838 He appears to be still active in the audio field, will send him an email for information on possible early podcasts: radiocamp.com/RadioCamp/Contact.html
    – Trey
    Jun 20, 2013 at 18:48
  • I contacted Greg, and he seems like the type of engaged/enthusiastic person who would be involved in groundbreaking media. I am trying to connect him with the EFF and a few of the other involved parties so they can pow-wow about the nature of Hells Bells. (So, unless you are close to the EFF, or an involved podcast, I might suggest letting Greg do what he does until the EFF drops him a line...don't want him to get too many emails if possible.) Thanks.
    – Trey
    Jun 20, 2013 at 23:36
  • Found the below here (txt download: massis.lcs.mit.edu/archives/back.issues/1993.volume.13/…) explaining how the Internet Multicasting Service was used: "We run a "radio" station, publishing sound files which you listen to on your personal computer."
    – Trey
    Jun 20, 2013 at 23:55

To add to PB Tom's great answer: Wired published an article on push technologies in March of '97. They profiled PointCast, Castanet, and Freeloader, all of which were attempting to distribute rich media to end-users. It may be worth looking at IP assigned and licensed to those entities (USPTO assignment database: http://assignments.uspto.gov/assignments/?db=pat).

The original article can be found here. http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/5.03/ff_push_pr.html


The University of Cambridge (UK) HIPERNET (HIgh PERformance NETworked multimedia for distributed language training) experiment appears to hit most if not all of the claims.

According to this page:
the experiment was run in Michaelmas term 1995 (about a year before the cutoff for invalidating this patent). Selected quotes:

The HIPERNET project had the twin goals of developing an integrated networked multimedia system for distributed language training across the University departments and colleges, and assessing the performance of the multimedia network and the suitability of the training application throught the effective use of the system by representative users from the University.
With servers and ATM switching equipment based at the Language Centre workstations were installed in Lab 3 of the Centre as well as at Churchill College and in the Language Unit of the Engineering Department, by using previously unused fibre on the Granta Backbone.
Student user trials were held during Michaelmas term 1995. Users had access to the BBC multimedia course French Means Business by Anny King, with an associated multimedia dictionary. Video and audio clips were available to the users...

So this project:

  • Enabled on-demand retrieval of audio clips by clients across a network from a server
  • Was about a year before the cutoff
  • Was presumably episodic as the audio clips related to installments of a language course (I have not been able to check this last point so far)

Here is a January 1996 report about the project: http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/univ/newsletter/1996/jan/update.html


From November 96 (but with strong reason to believe it was up for several months beforehand, see discussion below), the "Front Porch Forum" news page on KUOW 94.9 Public Radio:
appears to match all claims in the patent. Furthermore it does so in a way identical to modern podcasting. It contains for some of the news stories:

  • Episodic audio files (news reports) in RealAudio format
  • URLs (the links to the RA files, displayed as an "RA" gif image to the right of the story summary)
  • The page appears to have been periodically updated to contain links to the latest reports
  • Additional displayable text describes each report. In fact, that text also links to a complete transcript of the audio file.

What about dates? The page is from Nov 96, one month after the cutoff, so it seems reasonable to assume it could have been up for at least a month prior to being captured by archive.org.

More precisely, the transcript for the news story "Front Porch Forum Poll Results" (a story with an RA file attached on Front Porch Forum):
is dated 4/26/96. This does not prove that the system of URLs/links to RA files, RA files, and accompanying text was published before Oct 1996 but it makes it seem considerably more likely. Perhaps the station could confirm?


This 1994 news report by the UK's Independent newspaper describes exhibits by Compton's New Media and Prodigy at the 1994 CES Show which match some or all of the patent claims well before the patent date:


Compton's New Media:

Compton's New Media recently announced it was working with Intel on a device that would allow users to access CD-roms over a cable television system. The initial offering will allow users to access 150 titles at normal CD-rom speeds. This means that after purchasing a simple device which links the cable television outlet to the back of your computer, you would be able to nip into the study and play a CD-rom game and then, if little Hannah wanted to know when Mozart was born, you could just nip into an encyclopedia disc and find out. Cookery, language and many other types of disc could be stored on the system.

Another development on display could even develop into a video service for the personal computer. A company called Sigma Designs has come up with a card you can put inside your computer that will allow television-like pictures to be read from CD-rom discs. Store a couple of movies on Compton's service and you have videos-on-demand for your computer. However, that is only available if you have a cable operator delivering the service.


But another US company, Prodigy, is offering an information service available to any computer user in the US with a telephone line and a modem. Using a modem you can get access to the latest news and various other services. It is extremely easy to use.

At the end of last year Prodigy introduced pictures on the service. At the Consumer Electronics Show, it launched a new facility. You can now dial in and listen to news reports. At present the service is basic and you have to download a file and then play it back. However, it was still quite impressive to be at the show and listen to a breathless commentator announce that Stefan Edberg had just been knocked out of Wimbledon.

In particular, the Prodigy system:

  • Enabled download of episodic audio files from a central server by a remote client
  • Presumably had descriptions accompanying the audio files
  • It was not internet-based so would not have had URLs

The focus of my investigation was in part inspired by Greg Gronholm's information at http://thepatentpodcast.com/the-new-podcast-patent-being-asserted-by-personal-audio/ . I was focusing on Claim 31 of US Patent 8,112,504; I believe that the evidence below undermines this claim and speaks to the invalidity of the patent.

Mr. Gronholm also has a podcast episode laying out an invalidity discussion of this patent at http://thepatentpodcast.com/how-to-help-invalidate-the-personal-audio-podcast-patent/ .

In my searching, I found that the television program "Computer Chronicles" has a 1995 episode about the Internet [2, 3]. In it, there is a window into relevant pre-"Podcast Patent" Internet functionality:

  • Circa 1995, at least, there was the "Internet Underground Music Archive" (IUMA)[4]. The aforementioned 'Chronicles' episode displays an IUMA webpage, including what appears to be audio/media content that would qualify as "serialized" or "episodic"[5]. (YouTube video, 6'5"-6'10".) The specific webpage ("data file") displayed was a specific URL that was updated with additional [media] content. This "data file" was requested by the client device -- by way of the PC user's Internet browser. Each "episode" depicted includes a brief text description, and is represented by a unique URL embedded in the HTML source. Refreshing the page or navigating to the page at a later time is a means of "employing one of said one or more communication interfaces to:

"(a) receive a request from a requesting client device for the updated version of said compilation file located at said predetermined URL;

"(b) download said updated version of said compilation file to said requesting client device; and

"(c) thereafter receive and respond to a request from said requesting client device for one or more media files identified by one or more corresponding episode URLs included in the attribute data contained in said updated version of said compilation files"

The above (a), (b), and (c) all characterize Internet browser behavior that preceded the temporal/chronological basis of US Patent 8,112,504, and therefore speaks to the patent's invalidity.

A representative, relevant portion of the IUMA is preserved with the Internet Archive's "Wayback Machine": http://web.archive.org/web/19961219061839/http://www.iuma.com/IUMA-2.0/olas/new/ .

This particular episode of Computer Chronicles also depicts a playlist (4'34") [7].

For printing convenience, here are the explicit links for the citations above:

1: http://archive.org/details/computerchronicles

2: http://archive.org/details/CC1232_internet

3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XluovrUA6Bk

4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=XluovrUA6Bk#t=365s

5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=XluovrUA6Bk#t=370s

6: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=XluovrUA6Bk#t=1615s

7: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=XluovrUA6Bk#t=273s


From Oct 18th 1996 (but with persuasive evidence the service had been running for at least the 16 days prior to that in order to predate this patent), the Hollywood.com interactive video website was an online index of downloadable episodic multimedia content with accompanying textual information which provides an exact match for all claims in the patent:

  • Episodic multimedia content (movie clips) was available for download (in .hqx, .mov and .avi formats). Episodic as the index of available clips was periodically updated.
  • Additional text on the download page described the content of the download: the clips for each movie were categorized under subheadings and additional links lead to pages containing movie stills and notes
  • URLs for the individual movie files were included via the links which point to the movie files

Service homepage from Oct 19th 1996:

Clicking the "Video" link in the top right leads to the "Video clips" page from Nov 22nd 1996:

Most of the movie pages have not been archived but a few have. The below two examples were archived Oct 18th 1996 but feature a 1995 copyright statement: "Copyright © 1995 Hollywood Online Inc."

Evidence for predating the patent:


The world's very first website at CERN, by the inventors of the web, included a downloadable sound file from at latest 1992. (As well as being a partial example of prior art, as a particularly historic website this could serve as a useful talking point for those debating the patent). The site was recently reconstructed by CERN, as reported at http://first-website.web.cern.ch/blog/first-url-active-once-more The article states the copy of the site they used is from 1992, although earlier copies may exist.

Here's the page containing the sound file:
and the sound file was located at:
The file itself has not been uploaded as part of the site reconstruction, however a working copy is mirrored at http://w3.infologie.co/WWW/Talks/YesWeCan.snd
The index at http://w3.infologie.co/WWW/Talks/ shows a datestamp of 1994-Mar-15 for the mirrored copy. The file contains an English male voice (Tim Berners Lee?) saying "Yes, we can even make the text talk about itself".

So this first-ever website hits some but not all of the patent claims:

  • Downloadable audio content from a server
  • A URL pointing to the audio content
  • Extra text describing the content: "HyperMedia is a term used for hypertext which is not constrained to be text: it can include graphics, video and sound , for example."

However, it was not episodic.


From 1994-1997 former and (then) future California Governor Jerry Brown was hosting a weekly radio program called "We The People". I was involved with the show and distributing it in RealAudio format online at the beginning of October, 1996. The Internet Archive Wayback Machine cuts off show listings at February 1997 but I have copies of the first broadcasts.


Oxford University: The Computer Journal
Article: HYPERTEXT - Moving Towards Large Volumes
Published: Volume 32 Issue 6 December 1989
Author: I. RITCHIE
url: http://comjnl.oxfordjournals.org/content/32/6.toc

In 1945 Bush wrote an article, called As we may Think, which was published in the magazine Atlantic Monthly in which he argued that: 'Our methods of transmitting and reviewing the results of research are generations old and by now are totally inadequate in their purposes'. Bush proposed a machine called 'the Memex', which he described as 'a device in which an individual stores his books, records and communications, and which is mechanised so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility'.

Our ineptitude in getting at the record is largely caused by the artificiality of systems. When data of any sort are placed in storage, they are filed alphabetically or numerically, and information is found (when it is) by tracing it down from subclass to subclass. It can only be in one place, unless duplicates are used; one has to have rules as to which path will locate it, and the rules are cumbersome. Having found one item, moreover, one has to emerge from the system and re-enter on a new path.

The Human mind does not work that way. It operates by association. With one item in its grasp, it snaps instantly to the next that is suggested by the association of thoughts, in accordance with some intricate web of trails carried by the cells of the brain.

Bush's foresight from the 1940s makes dramatic reading in the 1980s when so much of his prediction is being delivered.

The most effective work in developing and implementing the concepts described by Bush during the 1950s and 1960s was led at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) by Doug Engelbart. The NLS (oN Line System), developed by the Augmented Human Intellect Research Centre at SRI, allowed users to create electronic documents based on connected concepts, to build hierarchies of infor- mation and to collaborate with others on the joint development of documentation. This work was also responsible for the development of many of the features which we now recognise as standard in modern personal computer systems: notably text processing and electronic mail


It is clear that these are only the first generation of hypertext products and that many others will be launched in the coming few years.

One of the most active areas of development of hypertext will be to build in the capabilities to manage other information sources including Video and Audio material; the resulting technology has already been called Hypermedia.

It is interesting to note that Bush's Memex included provision for voice storage and recovery and that Engelbart's NLS project experimented with integrated video images.

Both the GUIDE and HyperCard products are now being used actively to create applications which will run Video and Audio sequences and can call on other software packages for functions such as animation, database access and expert system diagnosis.

COMMERCIAL HYPERTEXT Adoption of hypertext technology outside of the research laboratory has been quite limited until relatively recently. In the last two years, however, there has been an explosive growth in commercial hypertext projects.

The IRIS team are now evaluating enhancements of the web concept, which they call filters, which allow the user to display hypertext links by characteristics such as author, date, authorisation level etc.


Has anyone considered the work done by RTC (Radio Computing Services)?

They delivered talk- and music-based software to radio stations, starting in 1979.

There is a wiki on it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_Computing_Services

In essence, the same general idea of podcasting which included the automatic delivery of new content via a subscriber service.

They're still in existence today: http://www.rcsworks.com/en/

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