Protected Content and Podcasting (Editorial)

Discussion in 'Setting-up protection' started by gswaim, Mar 10, 2013.

  1. gswaim

    gswaim CGI-Central Partner

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    Consider this an editorial, my opinion, on the pros/cons of podcasting protected content. I do not currently have a podcast, but I have produced several in the past, both audio and video. I do commit a couple of hours a week to keeping up with the technology mainly by listening to these two podcasts: The Audacity to Podcast - Podcaster's Roundtable.

    Questions about offering a membership-based podcast using aMember are brought up from time to time in the forums. It has been my experience over the years, that most people don't fully understand the concept of podcasting. So let's first make sure we are on the same page...

    Podcasting is a file distribution system built on RSS technology. It is designed to automatically deliver original files (audio, video, PDF, etc) to all that subscribe to the podcast using a podcast client (aggregator). Podcasts are typically episodic (new episodes each day, week, month, etc). The system is built on the concept that a user can subscriber/unsubscribe at will and the identity of the user is anonymous to the podcast producer.​

    The files being delivered must be stored somewhere on the web. While this could be on your own server (shared, VPN, or dedicated), hosting solutions are available that specialize in delivering podcasts. These accounts typically offer unlimited bandwidth and include a built-in feed generator. The feed is a file written in extensible markup language (XML). This file contains all the information a podcast aggregator needs to identify new podcast episodes and download them to the user's local device. One of the most popular podcast hosting service is LibSyn. If you are using WordPress a good choice is Blubrry in conjunction with Blubrry's PowerPress plugin.​

    In my humble opinion, using a technology that specializes in distributing original files to all subscribers is a polar opposite of protecting content. All the subscribers could then simply forward this premium content with no protection.

    So, is there a place for a podcast on a membership site? Sure, but not to deliver copies of your premium content to all the members. You could do a traditional podcast (not protected) and offer "free" content that drives listeners to your site where they are given the opportunity to subscribe to premium content.

    So, let's look at a an option to podcasting. Produce your audio/video content and make it available to the paid members via the built-in FlowPlayer player. This way the audio/video can be consumed, but not copied, to all but the most tech savvy. You could then notify the paid members of new episodes (call it a show if you want) via an email-based newsletter that provides a link back to the audio/video on your site. You could easily do this with the built-in email feature or with one of the supported third party services such as Mail Chimp, aWeber, Constant Contact, etc.

    In summary, we all want to use cool technologies and podcasting sounds cool. However, using a podcast to deliver protected content is like putting a square peg in a round hole.

    Again, this is just my 2 cents worth.
  2. disview

    disview New Member

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    Jan 1, 2013
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    Hello! I'm just now moving to Amember from a different membership package and I'm loving the features, despite dealing with a few challenges.

    I have to respectfully disagree with you regarding the idea of protecting content with a built-in media player rather than a full fledged podcast solution.

    Since 2004, I've been podcasting a daily show, and in 2007 I quite my job and started doing it full time. It's been amazing, and I feel very fortunate to get to do what I love. I've found that my listeners want an easy way to access the material. When I started my show, most people got their content by sitting in front of their computers, but there's been a huge shift to mobile in the last few years. Having a way for them to get the show without having to fire up their web browser, log in, click on the link to the show they want to listen to, and press start on the media player is kind of a pain when compared to having all the shows automatically download in the Apple Podcast app on their iPhone, ready to listen to when they are.

    The way I set up my podcast is that there is a free feed that I update several times a week. The free feed is available to everyone and easily found in the iTunes directory, Stitcher Radio, etc.

    Paying members get access to those shows, plus exclusive programs, extended shows, videocasts, and an archive of all 2,000+ programs I've done.

    The mp3s are in a protected folder, so only members can access them. Yes, it's true that paying members could potentially take my show and share it with others after they downloaded it, but so can anyone buying a Beatles track on iTunes.

    People are paying me because they want my content, and I want to make it as easy for them to get it. I don't want them to jump through hoops, because eventually they'll get tired of it. In the case of an audio podcast, getting it right on their mobile device makes perfect sense.

    For those wondering, I just have my paying listeners enter the url to the rss feed in their Apple Podcast app (or iTunes on their laptop/desktop) ex: http://www.myshow.com/?feed=rss
    The actual feed is accesible to everyone (it's not protected) but all of the mp3 are in a protected folder. So, when iTunes or the Podcast app tries to download it, a pop-up asking for a username and password will appear. Enter it once and all of the shows from the feed will download and itunes/podcast app will remember the login credentials.

    I apologize if that last part was common knowledge for you amember pro's out there :) Again, I'm new so I'm sharing what has worked for me!

    Good luck!
    -Tim
  3. gswaim

    gswaim CGI-Central Partner

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    Thanks Tim for the information. It isn't really common knowledge since there are currently two active threads from users that are having trouble implementing this.

    And if it works for you, then roll with it.

    Again, thanks for the input.
  4. successatlas

    successatlas New Member

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    Dec 16, 2007
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    This is just the information i was looking for - as i am swithing my premium podcasting membership site from another platform to aMember and was pondering how i can get them the paid content without forcing them to sign in (as they would eventually stop signing in)... thanks disview I'm going to follow your model of putting all the premium content in a protected folder and create the open RSS feed.
  5. anjimi

    anjimi aMember Pro Customer

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2015
    Messages:
    7
    Hello,
    I realise this is an old thread, but I am trying to achieve a protected podcast feed similar to Tim's scenario above. I'm actually trying to protect the rss feed itself rather than the audio files. I've managed to get the feed to work with standard HTTP BasicAuth on the rss. If I try to protect the feed with amember it just throws up an error in a podcast app, which makes sense as amember appears to redirect any attempts to view protected content to a login page, which cannot be parsed by the podcast app.
    Is there any way to achieve this using amember?
    I would be very interested @disview to know how you set up protection on your audio content as you described.
  6. alexander

    alexander Administrator Staff Member

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    Jan 8, 2003
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    Well you can use http basic auth protection in aMember too.
    Just protect folder using htpasswd protection method (You need to enable plugin in amember CP -> Setup -> Plugins)
  7. blueflamman

    blueflamman New Member

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    Oct 30, 2014
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    Great comments guys! However I have a question (a big one)

    I am in the process of constructing a online lesson site to which I am offering pre-recorded lessons (individual videos or packs) which students can purchase and view at there leisure. However I am not a fan of the videos being downloaded as said above, "All the subscribers could then simply forward this premium content with no protection".

    To avoid this issue I wanted the content to only be associated with my students account and streamed from their account (list of purchases with description and play button). I was going to use Vimeo as my media server to upload my videos but am unsure as to how I would integrate this with aMember i.e - protect the link in the nav bar from showing.

    Ideally I would like each purchased video to show up in a list form (with picture and description as seen here http://in2drums.com/page22) once the student make the purchase but the only way I can see to protect the video is to create individual web pages for each video which would be cumbersome.

    So I guess my main question is, "how can I get the protected list formate I'm after, with a light box effect for each video (instead of a separate page), without leaving the purchased video page?"

    Is it possible?

    Thanks in advance
  8. alexander

    alexander Administrator Staff Member

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    yes this is possible but you need to protect videos through amember CP -> Protect Content -> Videos.
    aMember will generate html code for each protected video which could be embedded into your page.
  9. blueflamman

    blueflamman New Member

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    Oct 30, 2014
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    Thanks Alexander, But from what I can see you need to upload the video which is restricted to 64mb. My videos would be much bigger than that hence me wanting to embed videos with Vimeo. What steps would I need to take to achieve this? It's there documentation or a tutorial on this anywhere???
  10. alexander

    alexander Administrator Staff Member

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    First yo ucan uplaod large videos through ftp to /amember/data/uplaod folder. Then yo ucan select these videos from amember CP.
    Also I recommend to use Amazon S3 to store videos, this way you decrease your server load.
    aMember can protect videos stored on Amazon.

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