There is money to be made in podcasting, and that is attracting bad actors looking to make fast and easy money. In recent months there has been more focus on counterfeit podcasts, and Buzzsprout has just announced that its podcast-hosting platform is supporting a podcast locking feature. Kevin Finn, co-founder and product lead of Buzzsprout, said they have been working with Podcast Index to create a simple solution to the piracy problem that has been spurred on by the ease of copying content distributed by RSS feeds.
Finn said the new “podcast” namespace provides a simple solution to piracy by utilizing an element added to feeds that simply tells hosting sites if they should allow this podcast to be copied and imported into their platform. It does that by adding the <podcast:locked> tagging element to the RSS feed. Finn said in a blog post that Buzzsprout is happy to support the security measure, but his company’s participation isn’t enough. He said other hosting companies should make a similar move. “We need services like Anchor, Libsyn, Blubrry, Captivate, Transistor and more to support it as well,” said Finn.
The idea of pirating a podcast may be foreign to many in the industry, but podcasters say the open RSS distribution system means a bad actor simply needs to make a copy of a show’s episode and redistribute it under a similar name — and then sit back and wait for the dynamically-inserted ad revenue to roll in. “The more people that subscribe to the pirated version, the more money the pirate gets,” said Finn.
After many of the bogus shows were tracked back to the Anchor.fm hosting platform, the Spotify-owned hosting platform has pledged to take steps to refine its show-posting processes. It is also improving methods of detection and removal. But Finn said at the moment even though they have an RSS importer that’s very similar to Buzzsprout’s, there are no verification steps before an entire podcast is duplicated on their platform. “The Anchor system presents a crime of opportunity and if they cared at all about creators, they would implement the security measures,” he said.