Podcasters may unexpectedly find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Copyrights, attribution, fair use, inducement, defamation and privacy are just a few of the issues which must be finessed to avoid ending up in hot water. Luckily, Colette Vogele and her colleagues have published an excellent, free guide for podcasters on their legal rights and responsibilities. Denise Howell sits down with Vogele to discuss this 'participatory law' project which helps demystify the legal dangers raised by the blossoming of audio and video podcasting.
Inspired by the EFF Legal Guide for Bloggers, the Podcasting Legal Guide grew out of Vogele's fellowship at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, in collaboration with Harvard's Berkman Center. While there are similarities between the issues facing bloggers and podcasters, audio, and especially video, raise their own set of concerns that are hotly debated. The wiki version of the Podcasting Legal Guide allows for discussion and revision as needed to keep pace with new developments.
By definition, RSS distribution creates copies, potentially raising intellectual property claims on anything included in a podcast. Infringing use of copyrighted music is probably the number one legal challenge facing podcasters, according to Vogele. Finding "podsafe" material is important, but should the hobbiest be held to the same standard as a corporate production? As technologies blur into each other, who is to decide? The FCC? The RIAA? Congress? Asserting a podcaster's own rights is also tricky. Creative Commons licenses and embedded usage agreements are possible approaches, but it's unclear exactly who sees these statements and how they apply.
Rounding out the discussion, Vongele suggests a possible spinoff guide for podcasters in the academy. As podcasting is taking off in the classroom, educators are bound by additional sets of rules and regulations. This talk, as well as several podcasts mentioned within, are great resources for anyone interested in intellectual property and on-line media.
The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School is a leader in the study of the law and policy around the Internet and other emerging technologies.