Broadcatching is the downloading of digital content that has been made available over the Internet using RSS syndication.

The general idea is to use an automated mechanism to aggregate various web feeds and download content for viewing or presentation purposes.

History of broadcatching Edit

Fen Labalme describes coining the term 'broadcatch' in 1983.[1] It refers to an automated agent that aggregates and filters content from multiple sources for presentation to an individual user.

Stewart Brand later used the term independently in his 1987 book The Media Lab: Inventing the Future at MIT to describe artificial-intelligence technology (in one application) to assist content selection ('hunting') and viewing ('grazing' or 'browsing').[2]

In December of 2003 Steve Gillmor described combining RSS and BitTorrent peer-to-peer file sharing as a method for subscribing to an ongoing series of media files from a website, in an article for Ziff-Davis.[3] Scott Raymond described its specific application for gathering scheduled programming in an article entitled Broadcatching with BitTorrent.[4] The combination of these technologies allows a computer connected to the Internet to act like a digital video recorder (DVR) such as TiVo connected to cable.

One of the first practical implementations was released in 2004 - programmer Andrew Grumet announced the release of a beta version of an RSS and BitTorrent integration tool for the Radio Userland news aggregator here.

Today, RSS and BitTorrent based broadcatching provides a web based distribution channel capable of delivering broadcast media to a large group of consumers at a low cost. BitTorrent provides the low cost method for distributing large files to a large group, and RSS enables a website to easily provide a subscription to a series of BitTorrent files.

Uses of broadcatching Edit

Although broadcatching can be classified as a method independent of technology and implementation, today broadcatching finds much use with Internet television and Internet radio (also called podcasting or IPradio).

Broadcatching is often used in situations where multicasting may be used, but is cost prohibitive.

Today, most broadcatching is done using RSS and BitTorrent technology.

Broadcatching of copyrighted television broadcastsEdit

Perhaps the most popular use of broadcatching is using a BitTorrent client with inbuilt RSS support (such as uTorrent or Azureus, using a plugin) to automatically download television episodes as they are 'released' - internet users capture the broadcast as it is transmitted, then compress it (typically after removing advertisements) and send it on to others.

While this is not legal in most countries, the practice has become quite popular, particularly in countries such as Australia and the United Kingdom, where television programmes produced in the US tend to be aired more than six months after US broadcasts, if at all.

As of 2006, there has been no legal action taken against sharers of TV episodes (compare to distribution of copyrighted movies and music, which the MPAA and RIAA have taken a strong stance against).

Broadcatching ClientsEdit

Broadcatching FeedsEdit

  • BitTorrent Publisher Accounts from allow users to create broadcatching feeds compatible with utorrent and the clients.
  • The Pirate Bay is a prominent source of torrents which point to copyrighted material, and RSS feeds.
  • X Hollywood aggregates RSS feeds from BitTorrent sites.
  • VJTorrents was a free RSS Video feed of VJ Mixes performed and recorded live. Went offline May 1, 2006
  • tvRSS is a torrent-based broadcatching website, that provides RSS feeds for EZTV and VTV.
  • OfflineTV is a project to create an internet distribution channel for alternative news videos, relying on BitTorrent and RSS technologies.
  • - Electric Sheep now offers a torrent feed to download its sheep, fractal flame screensavers.
  • Torrent Locomotive provides custom search results in viewable format or as RSS. Predefined RSS feeds are available for most-recent and most-popular torrents.
  • MiniNova MiniNova hosts RSS feeds of torrents of all types and searches.
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