Session 2: Podcasting–Legal Issues

“Avoiding Unmitigated Disaster and Achieving Unlitigated Success”

Moderator: Denise Howell, of Bag & Baggage

Speakers: Jeff Henninger, Reed Smith LLP; Colette Vogele, Stanford Center for Internet & Society & co-author, Podcasting Legal Guide

Starting a podcast? Form a limited liability corporation. Register your podcast name as a trademark with the USPTO. Think about insurance against liability for libel, slander, defamation. Get written agreements on everything up front. Use lawyers judiciously. You don’t need a lawyer for any of the things mentioned above. When do you need a lawyer? When the potential loss to you exceeds the cost of hiring a lawyer. Also, when the other side has a lawyer.


For universities, etc.: how do you make podcasts accessible for “508 compliance” under the Americans with Disabilities Act? (None of the panelists had an answer.)

Trademarking your name: will consumers be confused by the use? If your podcast is “ESLpod” (English as a Second Language), and someone else uses the “eslpod” as an acronym for something else, you may not be able to stop them.

Music in podcasts: What about a 30-second clip as background while you talk over it? The artist still owns the work. Despite the common myth, there is no “30-second rule” on fair use.

Is it prudent to get written releases for all interviewees? Yes, that’s the most prudent approach. The podcasting community is pretty young and non-litigious at this point; it’s a good idea to begin documenting your relationships with your partners, guests, etc.

Right of publicity: an individual has the right to control use of their name, likeness, and voice. There is some relief from liability if you are doing a journalistic-oriented podcast.

(Heads up: Colette Vogele will soon be doing a weekly podcast to answer these sorts of questions.)


About James G. Milles

Professor of Law, SUNY Buffalo Law School

Posted on September 29, 2006, in Podcast Expo 2006. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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