In recent weeks two stories of podcasters using content without giving proper credit have made national news. Is this bad news for the industry? Can we expect to see more of these stories with more podcasts being closely scrutinized?
The hosts of Crime Junkies pulled down several episodes after being accused of plagiarism which was followed up with an explanation that really made no sense as to why they pulled the episodes down. They never really addressed the allegations. The second accusation was made by Slate national editor Josh Levin who accused The Dollip podcast of stealing his work.
We wanted to know if these two high profile cases of alleged plagiarism by podcasters was a cause for concern for the podcating industry. We turned to our panel of podcasting experts for their thoughts.
I haven’t really looked into these allegations, but my first thought is five people do a podcast about Elvis, and we are all talking about the same subject (Elvis), someone is going to claim plagiarism eventually.
Now if someone is directly stealing a script that’s a problem (and looks bad upon the podcaster – not podcasting as a whole). For me, that’s like blaming the McDonald’s company for the cold fries you got from the new McDonald’s that just opened.
School of Podcasting
More exposure means more eyes and ears on your content and your brand. Not to say that the podcasting industry is immature, this is a metaphor because my life is infused by an almost teenager (all day everyday) …podcasting is now in the teenage stage and things that one could get away with when younger won’t fly. Plagiarism is not a podcasting thing, it’s something that happens in every single content industry.
Sometimes it’s due to conscious nefarious choices, other times it’s benign ignorance, and all the nuanced in between. Black eye? No. It’s do the work and do the job well aka don’t wear your PJs to the grocery store like you used to. Your little town has increased in population 1000%.
This industry is just like any other, you will have some that take short cuts. Being creative and coming up with original storylines is difficult. If podcasters are going to use the premise of someone else’s work as part of their storyline, they need to secure the rights to use that content legally. Even news and information shows need to make sure they are attributing sources and linking to the material. To outright lift content and not credit could result in lost credibility at a minimum and lawsuits and court time. Hard lesson here for podcasters accused of this and hopefully everyone learns something.
Bringing focus on plagiarism to the forefront of podcasting is important. One of the gifts of podcasting is the opportunity for those who’ve never had a foray into the media business to be able to have a platform for creativity and sharing their voice. This comes with a big responsibility that goes way beyond the type of equipment or hosting platform to use.
Hosts need to be educated on the importance of having their own work protected and on respecting the value of other’s work. It’s easy to quote an article in the course of an episode conversation and get busy and not add the source to the show notes but it’s not acceptable. Podcasters can improve on this by doing better show preparation so they can cite the source of the article inside the episode. More Importantly, hosts need to make the time to write and publish detailed show notes and use them as a means of sourcing and giving credit where it is due.
Traci Long DeForge
Founder, Produce Your Podcast
This isn’t a problem unique to podcasting. It plagues most media. But the decentralized nature of podcasting might exacerbate the problem in our medium. Citing references is always hard, but it’s made harder by the disconnect of what’s said on-mic vs what’s written in episode details. Not that I’m giving us podcasters a pass or excusing our transgressions! The fix is to fight laziness and be deliberate in our actions. And to change our processes to makes sure we’re getting it right before we hit “publish”.
Simpler Media Productions
I don’t feel that as yet, plagiarism has become a significant issue. I feel that whilst there have been instances recently of this happening and being penalized, right now the bigger picture should focus on educating podcasters on what they can and can’t do legally. Right now, we’re an unregulated medium but that’s unlikely to remain the case as the space continues to grow – our responsibility is to make sure that we’re up to date on the legalities of what we’re ok to do and what we have to stay away from.
CEO & Co-founder
Rebel Base Media
Podcasting needs journalists as allies, partners, collaborators. Actual journalism is expensive and time consuming to produce. Using someone else’s words without credit or compensation to make a profitable podcast is dishonest. But it hasn’t put a black mark on podcasting as a medium.
Lipstick & Vinyl
Just putting a link in the show notes is not enough when it comes to attribution. You need to verbally mention sources in the episodes and then say where links to those sources can be found. There are just a small number of podcasts being called out on this now. And I do believe most established podcasts are doing things the right way. But per fixing things, I do not believe things are broken overall, I just think a few podcasts did not properly attribute their sources and some in the main stream media have the panties all up in a bunch. There is no black eye here – just some journalists trying to put eye liner on a few shows and saying it is black eye.