Third Podcast Reflection: The Podcast That Never Was

If you are looking for the podcast that correlates to this reflection post, it no longer exists. After I finished my third podcast Tuesday, I submitted my archive to iTunes for syndication. On Friday, I was notified from iTunes that my podcast violated their “Terms of Agreement,” in particular copyright infringement. This is the first challenge I’ve had with iTunes syndication, but it led me to learn more about the subject of podcasting and copyright. Copyright law is relevant to podcasts because it applies to creative and expressive works and includes performance, scripts, interviews, musical work, and sound recordings. Under current US copyright law, copyright refers to any creative or expressive works once they have been “fixed,” i.e.written down or recorded. It also applies to interviews. Interviewees must agree to the interview, your adaptation of their responses, to the inclusion of their responses in your podcast. Make sure all necessary rights and permissions are secured for the material included in your podcasts. Because I used copyrighted music by various artist and the podcast had nothing to do with commenting or critiquing the music played, I violated iTunes’ regulations. Podcasters must have the express permission of the creator or copyright owner of materials included in their broadcast to license their materials under a Creative Commons license.

There are more than 100,000 podcasts on the iTunes Music Store on any given day. Submissions are screened for profanity or hate speech, but the large number of podcasts make it impossible to verify whether podcasters have obtained the necessary licenses for content within their broadcasts. Because iTunes is just the host for the content, the responsibility to assure the podcast complies with copyright law is on the creator.

While it is possible for people to acquire the proper licensing, the process could be very time-consuming. Musicians and record labels are more concerned with curbing piracy and maintain control over the distribution of their content than seeking out and prosecuting podcasters. If a podcaster includes a sound recording of a specific song from a band, then they also need to obtain rights to that specific recording from the RIAA.  If you take a sound recording from a record company, you have become a record distributor. Broadcast Media Inc. (BMI)  and the American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP) both grant license specifically for podcasts.BMI provides a Klik-Thru Internet license for less than $1,000 for annual rights to a immense catalog of songs. ASCAP also offers a similar package for approximately the same price.

This has lead me to change the theme of my podcast completely. I will no longer post a music podcast, instead of will learn more about the process of independent and self-publishing. Having a writing degree myself, I am interested in the process many writers take to circumvent traditional publishing houses.


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