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How To Securely Embed Videos On Your Membership Site And Ensure Protected Access

It is quite normal to want to embed videos into private membership sites. Typically, these are training videos as part of online courses.

You want to ensure people cannot easily download and redistribute your video content. You also want to make sure people cannot hotlink to your video (link directly to it and bypass your membership) or embed it on their own site.

Basically, you want to be sure that the only people who can watch your videos are people who you WANT to watch your videos. Usually because they are a paying customer.

So, let’s talk about how to securely embed videos on your site and ensure proper member protections.

The 2 Most Common Video Security Concerns

There are two common concerns people have:

  • Downloading
  • Hotlinking

If a paying member is able to download copies of your videos, then they would have access to that content even after cancelling their membership. Once they have the file, there’s not much to stop them from re-posting it elsewhere.

Hotlinking is where they are able to link directly to your video or embed it in a way which bypasses the membership protections of your membership site. For example, they could link to your members-only video directly in a public blog post and allow anybody to access it without logging into your site.

Another issue with hotlinking is risks to your web hosting through excessive bandwidth usage. If somebody posts that video elsewhere and it got popular, they could be pulling a lot of bandwidth from you (hence slowing down your site considerably) without ever actually accessing your site.

Obviously these are things we’d like to prevent.

Keep in mind… there’s no such thing as perfection when it comes to securely hosting your videos. In the end, whenever content is delivered to a user’s computer in some way, there’s always some way to capture it. Even if you are able to prevent direct downloads and hotlinking, it isn’t as if they couldn’t just screen capture the video while playing it and make their own copy. This would be the equivalent of people recording movies by pointing their camera at the screen.

In the end, you need to be reasonable about how paranoid you want to be about this issue.

Do what is reasonable and it will prevent almost all problems. But, if somebody is willing and inclined enough to find a way to get a copy of your video, there’s always some way to do it. It isn’t really worth spending much of your time worrying about the few bad apples out there.

Will An Unlisted Youtube Video Work?

Youtube is an attractive option for many site owners for obvious reason. It’s free. It’s easy. And it works well.

Securely Embed Videos - Youtube?Securely Embed Videos - Youtube?

However, it certainly is not a solution for any video you want real security on.

An unlisted Youtube video might not be available on your channel or in Youtube searches, but it is still technically a public video. If anybody manages to get the the direct link to that video, they can access it and share it without any limits.

I only use Youtube if the video is public. If it is a public video, I really don’t care who accesses it. Even if I were to use an unlisted Youtube video as a sales video on my website, it is only because I don’t care if people see it on Youtube directly.

Unlisted Youtube videos are not a good way to host membership site videos.

Vimeo Is Great For Membership Sites

Securely Embed Videos - Vimeo?Securely Embed Videos - Vimeo?

I am personally a big fan of Vimeo for securely hosting your protected videos. It provides all the protections you would need. It has all the convenience of Youtube, but with the features you’d want for secure videos. Things like:

  • Domain-level protections (so your videos can only show up on domains you permit)
  • Truly private video pages (where not even a direct link to the video on Vimeo will work)

They’ve got numerous other benefits (such as a branded video player) which are great.

Unfortunately, Vimeo has changed their pricing structure.

I am personally on a PRO plan of $240/year. And while I am capped at uploading 20GB per day (which I never do), I have no limits on how many videos I can upload over time.

Unfortunately, that plan no longer exists and I guess I’ve been grandfathered into it. The current crop of plans are called Starter, Standard and Advanced. And all of them having caps on the number of videos you can host.

My PRO plan is now Standard, and if I had that plan I could only host 120 videos on my account per year. Once a year goes by, I could upload another 120 videos.

I’m not a big fan of the caps, but if the caps are something you know you won’t have a problem with, then Vimeo’s feature set is great for membership sites.

Grab your copy of the Membership Site Planner?

Download this worksheet to guide you through the idea and planning phase of your new membership site – setting you up for maximum signups and income.

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Using Amazon S3 To Host Your Videos

Securely Embed Videos - Amazon S3?Securely Embed Videos - Amazon S3?

Amazon S3 is a hosted cloud storage solution brought to you by – surprise! – Amazon. Being a cloud solution, it simply means that it is hosted storage on the Internet and that it is spread around among multiple servers worldwide. What does this mean? Plenty of bandwidth and essentially no chance of losing the information. You’re essentially hosting files with the same system Amazon uses for it’s own sites.

Amazon is popular because it is highly affordable. You can host very large files there and serve those files from there and have quite a low bill to show for it.

The downside to Amazon S3 is that it is incredibly nerdy to use. I’ll leave it to you and others to figure out how use Amazon S3 since that’s beyond the scope of this article.

Essentially, though, it is serving raw files. It is not a video service. You can embed videos from there, but Amazon isn’t going to help you do so.

First of all, I would highly recommend you upload your videos to Amazon S3 as MP4 files. MP4 is the most universal file format for videos.

For securely embedding those files and providing you the player to actually play videos on your site, I recommend S3MediaVault.

Securely Embed Videos - S3MediaVault?Securely Embed Videos - S3MediaVault?

This plugin can also securely embed PDF files so it isn’t limited to videos.

You also won’t need to make the video file(s) publicly available to get them to play through S3MediaVault. You can keep them locked down and ONLY playable through your website. There is also know way to download the video.

Using Presto Player For Your Membership Site Videos

Presto Player is another solid option to consider for your videos on WordPress.

Securely Embed Videos - Presto Player?Securely Embed Videos - Presto Player?

Personally, I think Vimeo is easier to use. It isn’t cheap, however. With Presto Player, you get a lot of the same benefits of Vimeo without the higher recurring costs.

With Presto Player, I would set up it’s built-in integration with Bunny.net. Bunny.net is like a user-friendly version of Amazon S3. Once you set up the integration, you can upload and manage your videos all from within WordPress. By using Bunny.net, you spare your web host the problems associated with serving large video files.

It is also quite convenient that Presto Player is so tightly integrated with WordPress itself in a modern way. It works with the major page builders as well as Gutenberg, so it is an easy drag-and-drop into your pages. It has built-in integrations with LearnDash, TutorLMS and LifterLMS.

It also works beautifully alongside WP Fusion, which I personally find to be indispensable for membership sites.

In terms of security, it works. Even when you view the source code of the embed, I can see the name of the video file but there’s no way to see the source URL.

To learn more about Presto Player, you can read my Presto Player review here.

Final Word On Secure Videos For Your Membership Site

I get asked by clients often how to securely embed videos on their membership site. This is my answer.

If you’re OK with the cost and don’t plan enough videos to bust through the limits, then Vimeo is really easy and convenient and I really like it.

But, if I wasn’t going to use Vimeo, I would use Presto Player in combination with Bunny.net.

If you would like my help getting your video setup in place for your membership site, you can check out my technical services. Also, Presto Player is something I can help get you set up with.

And if you have a question, you can ask me below or just shoot me an email.

Grab your copy of the Membership Site Planner?

Download this worksheet to guide you through the idea and planning phase of your new membership site – setting you up for maximum signups and income.

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to submit the form

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