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Podcasting vs Streaming

This page describes the differences between Podcasting and streaming; two services available to faculty, staff and students at Harvard Law School.

Podcasting

Podcasting (a term, coined in 2004, combines "iPod", a popular portable audio device, and "broadcasting") is the method of distributing multimedia files, such as audio or video programs, over the Internet using syndication feeds, for playback on mobile devices and personal computers. Podcasting is an automatic mechanism by which multimedia computer files are downloaded from a server to a client, by utilizing a piece of software that’s known as a “podcatcher.”  Apple’s iTunes is among the most popular podcatchers, although countless others are available.  In general, these podcast files contain audio or video, but also could be images, text, PDF, or any file type.  When a user subscribes to a podcast, the podcatcher automatically downloads media files to the user's computer whenever that computer is connected to the network.  Once the media file is downloaded to the viewer’s computer, viewers will end up with a copy of the audio or video file on their hard disk. From here the file can be copied, edited or redistributed at will.

Streaming Media

Streaming media differs from podcasting in that the file is not downloaded to the person’s computer. Instead, the file is “streamed” from a media server directly to the person’s computer. When the stream is stopped, there is no file to be saved, copied, edited or redistributed. A person must click on a link to a streaming media file thereby starting the stream. This also differs from podcasting in that the streaming file is not automatically downloaded but must be proactively accessed, typically by clicking on a link on a web site.  Currently, streaming media is delivered in a Real Media format and is accessed via the Real Media Player.

The HLS Computer & Network Resources Usage Agreement states, among other things, that students may not “unlawfully use, duplicate, or distribute software and files”. Students’ “access is conditioned upon their [sic] agreeing to and complying with the terms of this Harvard Law School Computer and Network Resources Usage Agreement.” 

Attribute

HLS Podcast Media

HLS Streaming Media

Can I download the media file to my computer?

Yes

No

Can I edit or redistribute the file?

Yes

No

Available in digital audio format?

Yes

Yes

Available in digital video format?

No

Yes

Can I listen to the file on my iPod?

Yes

No

Is the file available on my course web site?

Yes

Yes

Is the file available on my non-course web site?

No

Yes

Is the file protected by copyright law?

Yes

Yes

Last modified: August 25, 2008

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