Publishing your podcast: RSS Feeds

Copyright for Podcasting (a really short guide)


Publishing your podcast: RSS Feeds

You’ve got your completed podcast and transcript…how do you publish that content to the web and into the pockets of podcast listeners? Podcasts are delivered to apps and distributors (like Apple iTunes) via RSS feeds, the link that provides these user platforms the information about your podcast. 

Rather than uploading your podcast files directly to distributors like iTunes or Spotify, each episode of your podcast must be stored online – either through a podcast host provider or your own website. Not only does this help to ensure that you retain control over your media files and are able to edit or update your information, it also makes it possible to stream your podcast to multiple audiences simultaneously. The RSS feed link establishes a pathway for your episode audio files and descriptions to be shared with podcast directories.

The RSS feed delivers two types of information with the directory, channel information and episode information. The channel information describes your podcast as a series and includes things like your show’s name and description as well as copyright disclaimers and the language. For podcast directories to better understand what your show is about, you’ll also include category tags and show type. It’s beneficial to keep SEO in mind when thinking about which tags to use so listeners can find your show easily when searching their podcast app. You will usually fill in the podcast information once, when you set up your podcast series on a host or personal website. Each time you upload an episode you will need to fill in episode specific information, such as the title, show notes or a description, the duration of the episode, the publication date, file size, and so on. 

One of the easiest ways to generate an RSS feed is to use a publishing software like WordPress that is designed to structure and share periodically posted information, like on a blog. We recommend using the free-to-download Seriously Simple Podcasting plugin. The plugin works with most WordPress templates, to allow you to customize your site, but ensures through structured forms that all relevant data is included in channel and episode portions of the RSS feed are captured and organized. 

Watch a video on how to install and use Seriously Simple Podcasting

Once your RSS feed is up and running, you’ll need to instruct the podcast directories about where to look for your information. Learn how to submit your podcast to Apple iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher. For more information on evaluating podcast applications and directories and deciding where to share your content, visit Podcast Marketing. 

Copyright for Podcasting (a really short guide)

I’d be remiss not to address copyright in a discussion about publishing your original work!  

Copyright is a legal right that grants the creator of an original work exclusive rights to determine whether, and under what conditions, this original work may be used by others. Creators’ copyright entitles them to direct where their work can be published and how it can be reused or redistributed, for instance, whether it can be excerpted or reused in another podcast, or if it can be deposited in and accessed through an archive. Any creator holds the copyright on their own work until they sign legal documentation that assigns those rights to another individual, company, or institution. Authors may choose to license content to another party by granting or selling the right to reproduce their work, in whole or in part, while retaining their copyright. Using a Creative Commons license, a set of standard international terms for reuse and redistribution, can be one easy way to control how your podcast is used and shared. 

Learn more: Visit Columbia Copyright Advisory Services for more information on copyright and to learn how to contact a copyright specialist at the Libraries to tease out the thornier copyright and fair use questions in your life.


Using media in your podcast

You may wish to include media, including music, sound effects, or other audio recordings in your podcast. These elements can add atmosphere and emotion to your podcast, or can provide texture and depth to a conversation on current events, history, or art by playing historic or contemporary primary source recordings. However, it is important to make sure to check whether the audio you want to incorporate is in copyright. 

If the material you wish to use is in copyright, you should make sure to ask for permission to use it and should be aware that sometimes there are fees associated with using copyrighted materials. We offer advice for creators seeking to use copyrighted materials in the Libraries’ Author Permissions Instructions. If you are writing to a copyright holder, you can also use the Media Permissions Form to ask for permission.   

If you are unable to locate the rights holder, fully document your attempts to make contact and share this documentation with your journal editor. This is called due diligence. Repeated attempts with no success are necessary to prove due diligence, which may allow use without a grant of permission.

Often you will be able to find and make use of materials that are out of copyright or that are appropriately licensed for use in your podcast. Here are some helpful tips about understanding how to recognize and use these works: 

  • Public Domain: Generally speaking, works published in the United States before January 1, 1924, and all U.S. Federal government publications are part of the public domain. No permission is required for their use, but you must cite the source of the material. Artworks enter the public domain in the U.S. 70 years after the death of the creator. You will need to fully investigate the source and usage terms of any “public domain” or “free use for scholarship” website from which you obtain an image. For help determining whether a work is in the public domain or requires copyright permissions.
  • Creative Commons: Materials marked with a Creative Commons license can be reused without permission or fees according to the terms of the license. Creative Commons licenses vary greatly by version, and every repository site (even if a recording is in the public domain) may have its own terms of use.
  • Fair use: Fair use is a provision in US copyright law stating that copyrighted material may, under certain circumstances, be used for purposes such as comment, criticism, news reporting, teaching, and research, without the need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder. For more information about how to apply fair use to your circumstances, consult Columbia University’s Copyright Advisory Services and their resources on fair use. If you feel that the discussion of an image or text excerpt in your article (or within the caption accompanying the image) may not provide sufficient context to legitimately claim fair use, consider strengthening the discussion or reducing the amount of quoted text. Fair use varies by country and by the particular facts of each publishing situation. The Fair Use Checklist may help you to decide whether your use of copyrighted material falls under fair use. 


Creative Commons Licensing

What is a Creative Commons (CC) License?

A Creative Commons License is a statement of the terms under which a piece of intellectual property under copyright can be reused. CC licenses are an international standard that provides clear terms under which a piece of media or content can be reused, reworked, or republished, and what kind of credit, or attribution, is necessary.

What are the different kinds of licenses my podcast could use?

Different Creative Commons licenses allow for and restrict different kinds of reuse. Here are four of the main flavors of CC license that require attribution of the original source:

  1. Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY):

The “Attribution” license allows others to reuse and redistribute media, including remixing and building upon the content, as long as the original author and source are credited. The license even allows reuse of the work for commercial purposes, such as being redistributed or remixed into a for-profit podcast or media outlet. This license is the affords the least control over reuse of your work, but also recommended for the widest possible dissemination. 

  1. Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivatives (CC-BY-ND):

A “No Derivatives” license lets others use your work for any purpose, including commercial reuse, but it cannot be adapted or remixed. Credit must be given to the original source and author. A CC-BY-ND preserves the contextual integrity of any work, by ensuring that it cannot be excerpted or reproduced in part within a derivative work, but it does mean that, especially if your podcast is lengthy, it may not be frequently reused and widely disseminated. 

  1. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial (CC-BY-NC): 

A “NonCommercial” license allows others to reuse the work, including remixing and adapting it, but prohibits reuse in commercial contexts and publications. They must attribute the work to its original source. A non-commercial license may be a good option if you want to retain the rights to charge fees for reuse and republication.. 

  1. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND):

A “NonCommerical-No Derivatives” license only allows the use of a work in its original, unadapted form for non-commercial purposes. The work must be attributed to the original source.

If you’re not sure which license to select or want to learn more, you can visit the Creative Commons website to view these and other licenses. . 

Why would I want to use a CC License?

For podcasts seeking to increase their reach and impact as scholarly works, Creative Commons licenses encourage the sharing and reuse of work. Listeners who are informed outright of the ways in which they can republish and use an podcast are more likely to cite it, reuse or redistribute it, and repurpose it in educational contexts. This increased exposure can lead to additional citation and awareness of your podcast. And as long as you have selected an “Attribution” license (CC-BY), you will still receive credit and recognition for the work you do. 

Clearly articulated licenses and terms will also help you to field fewer reuse and republication requests.

How do I implement a Creative Commons License?

You can apply a Creative Commons license simply by including a statement of copyright and listing the license on your podcast’s site, reading the license in your podcast’s audio, and in the metadata for your episode. It is also considered best to provide a link to the webpage containing terms for the license you’ve selected. You can also download and display CC License Buttons on your webpages and transcript PDFs. 

Here is are a couple of examples of the language Columbia University Libraries recommends:

© 2019 Podcast Genius. This podcast is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License provided the original creator and source are credited. For the complete terms of the license please see:  

© 2019 Generic Writer. This article is podcast under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, which permits not for profit distribution and reproduction of this podcast (such as educational classroom and personal uses), provided the original creator and source are credited. The license does not allow alterations of the underlying work beyond that permitted by fair use without additional permission from the creator.

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