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If you are starting a podcast, you will need to consider how best to protect your work. Nearly every podcast will contain some copyrighted material. It is therefore essential that you protect your original content from being misused by others. To protect your copyright, you should first determine what type of material you are seeking to protect. You also need to know who owns the copyright to that material. Then, you can take appropriate steps to ensure that others do not misuse it. This article will explain how to protect the copyright of your podcast.

What is Copyright?

Copyright law automatically protects creative works – in Australia, you do not need to register copyright. It gives the owner of copyright certain exclusive rights, including the right to:

  • reproduce;
  • publish; or
  • perform their work.

If someone uses your copyright protected material without your permission, they may be breaching copyright. A podcast will consist of several elements that copyright automatically protects, including a sound recording and a written script. The copyright protection will attach to each component independently, meaning the script of a podcast is protected separately from the audio recording itself.

Unlike other forms of intellectual property, copyright protection attaches to a piece of work automatically; it does not require registration. As such, your work will receive protection as soon as you put it into a tangible form of expression.

For example, when you write the script of your podcast down or record the podcast, it will automatically receive copyright protection.

Who Owns My Podcast’s Copyright?

Where a single product has multiple copyrightable elements, each of those elements will have its own copyright protection. This also means that there may be several copyright owners in one piece of work.

The owner of the copyright will depend on the type of work and the circumstances of its creation. The general rule is that the creator of the work will usually be the owner of the copyright. This is because the creator of the work will often be the person who first puts the work into material form.

However, as a single podcast includes more than one copyrightable element, copyright ownership in a podcast tends to be more complicated.

For example, the copyright owner of a literary work will usually be the person who authored the work. However, in a sound recording, the ‘maker’ of the recording usually owns its copyright. This maker is typically the person who owns the equipment the recording was made on, such as the production company or record label.

In comparison, if you are recording a podcast for a newspaper, the newspaper will likely own the master recording and be the owner of the copyright. However, if you are simply recording a podcast without any commercial backing, you will be the owner of the recording.

What Are My Rights?

Copyright law grants an owner the exclusive right to use their original work in any way they wish. The exclusive rights vary depending on the type of material. Common rights include the right to:

  • reproduce;
  • communicate; and
  • publicly perform the work.

When considering a podcast, your rights may be infringed when:

  • others share the podcast on their website;
  • someone downloads the podcast from your website;
  • someone copies your podcast’s script and creates their own podcast; or
  • your podcast is played in public at, for example, a cafe.

What Can I Do if Someone Has Infringed My Rights?

It is essential to take steps to ensure that others are not using your material without your authorisation. The easiest way of doing this is to monitor your content on the internet to make sure that people are not sharing your podcast on other websites without your permission.

If you find that someone is infringing your material, you should send a cease and desist letter to the infringer. The letter should set out your rights and demand that the infringing party makes certain steps to stop the infringing conduct. Often, infringing parties will not know that they were committing copyright infringement and will take down the material once notified. It will then be a matter for you to decide whether you want to pursue additional legal action for the infringement, including compensation.

If someone continues to infringe your copyright, you can take the matter to court. If the court finds that someone has infringed your copyright, they can grant an order such as:

Injunctions

An injunction is a legal order that restrains someone from invading the legal right of another. You may apply to the court for an injunction to force someone to take down your copyright-protected content. This could also restrain that party from infringing your copyright in the future.

Damages

Damages are an award of money made by a court to compensate you for the loss that you might have suffered because someone infringed your copyright. They intend to restore you to the financial position that you would have been in had the infringement not occurred. Therefore, damages are usually calculated based on what licensing fee you would have charged for the use of your copyright.

However, you could also receive additional damages in circumstances where the infringer has blatantly disregarded your rights.

For example, if you have advised the infringer that they are infringing your material and they ignore you and keep using your content anyway. Here, the court might grant you additional damages.

Account of Profits

If the infringer is held to have infringed your copyright, a court may order the party to pay you any profits that they received as a result of the infringement.

For example, if somebody shares your podcast on Youtube and they financially benefit from sharing the material, you may be awarded the funds they have made.

Key Takeaways

As the owner of a podcast, it is important that you understand how you can stop others from misusing your original work. Depending on your circumstances, who owns your podcast’s copyright can vary. Copyright does not require a registration process and your rights will be protected from the time of their creation. If your work is infringed, you can take legal action to enforce your rights. If you have any questions about your intellectual property rights or need assistance protecting your podcast, contact LegalVision’s IP lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

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