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This Time It's Legal
October 12, 2006 3:08 PM   Subscribe

This American Life is now offering free podcasts. A while ago, someone noticed MP3s of This American Life episodes were sitting in a publicly accessible directory. People soon starting making podcasts. This American Life asked them to stop. Most of them did. Fans of the show were disappointed. Now the podcast is available directly from TAL for free.
posted by scottreynen (53 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Forgot the [via]
posted by scottreynen at 3:11 PM on October 12, 2006


Aaaaaand... Yay!
posted by odinsdream at 3:15 PM on October 12, 2006


Since we already gated on Ira Glass the last time this came up, let's try something different. Sarah Vowell: hot or not?
posted by orthogonality at 3:17 PM on October 12, 2006


er, "hated on"
posted by orthogonality at 3:17 PM on October 12, 2006


hell yeah! with podcast browsing capabilities on my squeezebox, the holy grail of all TAL episodes at my fingertips, in the living room, is finally realized. You have no idea what ridiculous hack attempts I've done in the past to achieve this.

For any not familiar with this show, give it a whirl, it's fantastic. "Cuervo Man" is perhaps a good starter...
posted by mcstayinskool at 3:18 PM on October 12, 2006


Yay!!
posted by knave at 3:21 PM on October 12, 2006


aww, pfooey. this just went from "best news all day" to "meh".

Each podcast/downloadable episode is free for exactly one week, beginning the Monday after broadcast. After that, shows will migrate into the This American Life show archives. At that point, you can:

Free streaming Stream the MP3 online for free (this option is always available).
$.95 downloads Download archived shows for only $.95 at Audible.com or the iTunes Store.
Buy a CD Buy a CD for $13 (includes shipping and beautiful packaging by Chris Ware).

posted by mcstayinskool at 3:23 PM on October 12, 2006


Yay!! This is great news.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:33 PM on October 12, 2006


mcstayinskool, that part baffled me. It's not clear to me if they're really making the ridiculous suggestion that people should delete the MP3s after a week, or just saying that they won't be available to download after a week. I'm assuming the latter.
posted by scottreynen at 3:35 PM on October 12, 2006


mcstayinskool writes "You have no idea what ridiculous hack attempts I've done in the past to achieve this."

Doesn't the squeezbox support MP3 streams? I have no problem streaming any episode at any time w/ iTunes...

I'm feeling hopelessly behind on the technology here. What's the difference between this podcast and the existing MP3 streams?
posted by mr_roboto at 3:41 PM on October 12, 2006


Well, to be accurate, it was ALWAYS legal, just frowned upon by PRI. /pedant
posted by dhammond at 3:58 PM on October 12, 2006


just saying that they won't be available to download after a week. I'm assuming the latter.

I don't see anything that indicates anything other than the latter.
posted by flaterik at 4:00 PM on October 12, 2006


I'm feeling hopelessly behind on the technology here. What's the difference between this podcast and the existing MP3 streams?

Streaming only works when you're on the internet. Podcasts download the MP3s, so they work offline. Some of us still go offline from time to time.
posted by scottreynen at 4:07 PM on October 12, 2006


Oh man, I haven't been offline in like 3 years.

Thanks, now I get it.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:11 PM on October 12, 2006


I'm not sure why they feel the need to DRM their files. The people who want to pirate it already have full collections.
posted by smackfu at 4:43 PM on October 12, 2006


I'm not sure why they feel the need to DRM their files

Huh? Where's the DRM?
posted by scottreynen at 5:00 PM on October 12, 2006


From the official site, they have never DRM'ed their files, in the strict definition of the word. They used to stream only realaudio back in the day, which is laughably easy to download for anyone who reallys wants to. Then they did streaming mp3s, but of course people quickly figured out how to download the entire (unprotected) mp3. So now they're just releasing the full mp3 for a week.

So still no DRM, technically - you can do whatever you want with the mp3. You just have to grab it during the week.

Of course, the stuff from Audible was always using whatever crappy formats audible uses...I don't know if they even try DRM anymore.

The issue with TAL is that they having paying customers via Audible that they don't want to lose, being public radio and all that. I'm of the opinion that if they did a huge online pledge drive, maybe with a live broadcast with all the regulars, _and_ offered the entire archives as mp3s online, they would make a crazy amount of money. Make a big huge deal out of it as "TAL embraces the nerds", with a big "donate now" button right on the front page. That might be a bit too radical for PRI, though....
posted by rsanheim at 5:01 PM on October 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


Well, this way seems to work, too...

wget http://audio.thisamericanlife.com/jomamashouse/ismymamashouse/episodenumber.mp3
posted by xiojason at 5:20 PM on October 12, 2006


The paid downloads have DRM, whether you get them from Audible or iTunes. I'm saying that they could just give out MP3s, on the same principle as eMusic.
posted by smackfu at 5:21 PM on October 12, 2006


The issue with TAL is that they having paying customers via Audible that they don't want to lose

I'm under the impression that the issue is more that they have contracts with contributors that don't allow them to give away something that could be turned into royalties. And it looks like they talked to a lawyer who determined that because they don't pay royalties on anything aired within the week of first broadcast, they can freely give away the MP3s within that week. That's my take on it, anyway.

The paid downloads have DRM, whether you get them from Audible or iTunes.

But why are you getting them from Audible or iTunes when they offer a DRM-free version? You want them to boycott iTunes over DRM?
posted by scottreynen at 5:28 PM on October 12, 2006


aww, pfooey. this just went from "best news all day" to "meh".

Each podcast/downloadable episode is free for exactly one week, beginning the Monday after broadcast. After that, shows will migrate into the This American Life show archives.


Wait, why is this a problem? Set up your Podcasting client to download each episode each week automatically, and you build your own archive of the show. Or are you upset that they don't have a full archive of the show in podcast-style delivery?
posted by odinsdream at 5:35 PM on October 12, 2006


wget http://audio.thisamericanlife.com/jomamashouse/ismymamashouse/episodenumber.mp3

Huh??

asdf@asdf:~$ wget http://audio.thisamericanlife.com/jomamashouse/ismymamashouse/87.mp3
--19:55:38-- http://audio.thisamericanlife.com/jomamashouse/ismymamashouse/87.mp3
=> `87.mp3'
Resolving audio.thisamericanlife.com... 207.70.82.73
Connecting to audio.thisamericanlife.com|207.70.82.73|:80... connected.
HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 404 Object Not Found
19:55:38 ERROR 404: Object Not Found.


Am I missing something?
posted by anomie at 5:57 PM on October 12, 2006


w00t!
posted by brain cloud at 6:31 PM on October 12, 2006


Aaaaannnd...subscribed. Thanks.
posted by jaronson at 6:39 PM on October 12, 2006


rsanheim writes "I'm of the opinion that if they did a huge online pledge drive, maybe with a live broadcast with all the regulars, _and_ offered the entire archives as mp3s online, they would make a crazy amount of money. Make a big huge deal out of it as 'TAL embraces the nerds', with a big 'donate now' button right on the front page."

That's exactly what they need to do next, IMO.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:57 PM on October 12, 2006


Hot diggety damn! This is fantastic.

And, it makes me glad that I didn't post this FPP.
posted by rossination at 6:57 PM on October 12, 2006


Wouldn't it be great if there was a big 'ol pig sitting out there by the fire hydrant? Why can't life be more like that?
posted by sdrawkcab at 7:16 PM on October 12, 2006


apologies apologies apologies...

wget http://audio.thisamericanlife.org/jomamashouse/ismymamashouse/episodenumber.mp3
posted by xiojason at 7:35 PM on October 12, 2006 [3 favorites]


This is just a guess, but I suspect (particularly since the "giveaway" podcast files appear to be unencumbered MP3s) that the DRM issue on the pay-per a la carte files is simply the agencies through which they are selling the files. As far as I know neither Apple nor Audible offer the option of unencumbered file transfers. Yes they could have elected to go through another service but they probably just viewed these as the basic options for digital sales.
posted by nanojath at 7:51 PM on October 12, 2006


Finally, they've been avalible in RA format for a while, but I always wanted them to dump them over to PodCast format like every other freaking NPR show. Well I'm happy now.
posted by MrBobaFett at 7:54 PM on October 12, 2006


YAY! I've been waiting for something like this since 1997. Thank you, Ira!
posted by Hildegarde at 7:58 PM on October 12, 2006


Fellow geeks: Is there a cool script for Linux that will automatically (cron job?) download podcasts from specified feeds? I tried basically every GUI app and I hate them all. I just want the MP3s to appear on my computer in directories that I control. Is that possible?
posted by knave at 8:50 PM on October 12, 2006


knave - I use podracer - works quite well
posted by azlondon at 9:01 PM on October 12, 2006


wget http://audio.thisamericanlife.org/jomamashouse/ismymamashouse/episodenumber.mp3

OK, that works, why in the world did they name the directories that 'jomamashouse' and 'ismymamashouse'? And who figured that out?
posted by Science! at 9:02 PM on October 12, 2006


No clue why they named the directories that. Probably just obfuscation. Figuring it out isn't hard. Their Flash-based player doesn't actually "stream" the audio, it just plays an mp3 while it downloads it and doesn't keep a copy, so downloading it with wget works to keep a copy.
posted by xiojason at 9:20 PM on October 12, 2006


azlondon, looks good, thanks for the tip!
posted by knave at 9:38 PM on October 12, 2006


This is great news indeed. I've had Audio Hijack Pro's schedule set to to record the stream of this show as it airs every Saturday, and that's filled up my iPod with lots of TAL goodness for a couple of years now.

It's certainly more elegant to have an official podcast, and I'm appreciative that they're offering it.
posted by Fofer at 10:50 PM on October 12, 2006


Now if we could just get those WireTap archives. (Jonathan Goldsteins great show on CBC)
posted by iconjack at 11:10 PM on October 12, 2006


Yay for TAL!

(I guess that means I'll have to give my local NPR station money this year. Jerks.)

Yeah, iconjack, I thought that was a little strange. It seems like a lot of other stuff is online on CBC, but I have yet to find WireTap. I've really only heard the pieces they air on TAL, but it seems pretty rad.
posted by ph00dz at 5:02 AM on October 13, 2006


Not to brag, but I work next door to the upcoming TV version of TAL (for Showtime), and I saw Ira just yesterday. I'll be sure to thank him if I see him today.
posted by fungible at 5:52 AM on October 13, 2006


good for them.

i know a little 8 year old that loooooves listening to the archives... at her leisure.


-
posted by specialk420 at 7:21 AM on October 13, 2006


is their site down?
posted by cgs at 7:55 AM on October 13, 2006


woops... nevermind
posted by cgs at 7:55 AM on October 13, 2006


"Sarah Vowell: hot or not?"

I vote hot. Who's with me?
posted by ZachsMind at 8:03 AM on October 13, 2006


Geh, I wish they'd stop changing their setup -- this is the third time I've had to fuss up a downloader (I kid. I feel better um, "timeshifting" the MP3 stream when I have to work for it a little. I mean, would it kill them to tag the files 1/3 as well as popamerica did before -they- got shut down?).

That being said, they're doing this at what seems like the deadest creative time for the crew -- their output over the past few months has been pretty thin. Arguably, with the move to NYC and the big Showtime production, they're doing other stuff, but still...
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:45 AM on October 13, 2006


Huh. They seem to have killed that backdoor. I was just downloading a few eps and suddenly they were unavailable. Phooey.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:36 PM on October 13, 2006


But, um, this trick works fairly well.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:56 PM on October 13, 2006


Hypothetically, if I were downloading archvied mp3s through the backdoor, would anyone be able to recommend a few of their favorite shows for me to start on?
posted by stammer at 6:26 PM on October 13, 2006


Go nuts.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:47 PM on October 13, 2006


Should have thought of that. Thanks very much!
posted by stammer at 7:55 PM on October 13, 2006


Just a bit of clarification:

This American Life is not an NPR show. NPR didn't want to take their show on when it started, so they took it to Public Radio International (PRI), who did take it. That's who carries the show. NPR just gets it from them. So, no, you don't need to give NPR money because of this cool thing. You should give your money to This American Life directly.
posted by odinsdream at 3:45 PM on October 14, 2006


Just to be clear:

When one says that they're giving money to their local NPR station, they're actually giving money to a local radio station that carries content from NPR. The local guys, who are pretty independent from each other, then, purchase TAL, NPR shows, and other content to put onto the air.

I'm certainly not any kind of expert on public radio, but I don't even think that TAL solicits donations directly.
posted by ph00dz at 5:29 AM on October 15, 2006


I suppose if you wanted to give money sorta directly to TAL you could become a member of WBEZ, which orignates the show. But I'm sure WBEZ is raking in tons of $$$ already for the show by selling it to the other stations through PRI or whatever. Also, the forthcoming cable show on Showtime means licensing fees for TAL and probably BEZ and Mr. Glass himself.
posted by Mid at 9:19 AM on October 15, 2006


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