Podcasts are becoming more and more popular. In November 2022 there were a staggering 4,014,356 registered podcasts globally.
While this is a fun and exciting niche it’s also scary how many of these podcasts may not be protected enough.
Whether your podcast is your primary source of income, a second income stream, or a passion project, you need to know how to protect your content and data from threats.
It helps to look at aspects of two broad categories: safeguarding your intellectual property and utilizing strong cybersecurity to prevent breaches and theft.
Here’s how you can do that.
How to Protect Your Podcast Content
#1. Protect your copyright
Copyright is an intellectual property law that protects original work from being duplicated or used without the originator’s permission.
Copyright is automatic if a work is original and judgment or skill was required for its creation. While ideas and concepts can’t be copyrighted, their expression in sound or writing can. So, your scripts and podcast recordings should be copyrighted.
Just keep in mind that core copyright laws are global, but there are differences from country to country or even regionally. If unsure, it’s best to check with a suitable attorney. Again, a copyright lawyer can advise you in this regard.
#2. Secure your data from leaks
As with any business activity, a breach or data disruption can have serious consequences. A further danger is an online leak in which your podcast is released without your consent and sometimes before you planned to do it yourself. This can result in decreased traffic and hence less revenue for you.
There are steps you can take to mitigate the risk of cyberattacks and data loss or leaks:
- Avoid using a localized device to store your data and instead use a decentralized storage location such as the cloud;
- Use a reputable, subscription-service downloadable VPN to hide your IP address and encrypt incoming and outgoing data;
- Install powerful antivirus and firewalls to prevent the theft of podcasts and any of your personal information;
- Use strong passwords and authentication methods;
- Regularly update any software and apps you use, using official sources only.
These are common to all devices connected to the internet and the advantages and dangers it represents.
#3. Create a trademark
Podcasters also put energy and thought into coming up with a unique name and, often, a logo or slogan. Doing an online search before you use or register a name will help to ensure someone hasn’t already used it.
Once you are reasonably sure the name etc., are original and available, you may feel it’s worth taking the time and spending money to register these trademarks so they can’t be used elsewhere.
#4. Be cautious about brand deals & sponsorships
It’s flattering and encouraging to be approached by sponsors who clearly believe your work has value. Again, you need to examine the agreement or contract so you know you and your work are protected.
You want to ensure that ownership will remain with you and that you understand the extent to which they can use your material. You don’t want to discover they have approval rights or can dictate distribution or have access and use rights that you are not comfortable with.
#5. Know the risks and your rights on social media
Social media is a great platform to connect with, and grow, your audience. But, as with vendors and sponsors, you could unwittingly give up your rights without realizing it. So, read the “Terms and Conditions” page very carefully to ensure you aren’t forfeiting your rights and to assess what the license rights are.
Many social media sites have scarily broad license rights. You may find that they can use your content in any way they want to and for any reason or even ‘give’ it to a third party without your knowledge or consent.
No podcaster wants to feel they have lost control of their work product and that it can be altered, shared, and used as others see fit. If you think the benefits of social media exposure outweigh the risks, that’s a decision only you can make.
Just as you want to protect your intellectual property, you need to respect what belongs to other creators. If you use music or read from an article or book, you must ensure you have the required permissions:
- You could ensure that you only use sources that are outside their copyright period or are under Creative Commons licenses and can therefore be used without consent;
- Music should be royalty-free, so you don’t require a license;
- Guests or a co-presenter on your podcast should sign a release giving you permission to use their names, words, voices, etc.
Even if you don’t require permission, the decent thing is to give credit to the source.
A further way to protect yourself is by securing appropriate insurance. You may decide broad cover for legal advice and fees is useful. However, in some countries like the US, there is very specific insurance. Errors and Omissions Insurance, for example, provides cover against copyright and trademark, contract, and defamation claims.
Some podcasters choose to make use of organizations to help distribute their content. The danger is that while you may still retain ownership of your content, the vendor may have licensing rights that you have not granted permission for. Common issues include:
- Making changes to your content or creating different versions;
- Inserting ads, including their own.;
- Distributing your content more widely than agreed.;
- Making money from your podcast without paying you anything.
The bottom line is that you shouldn’t sign a contract or agreement that you haven’t read or don’t understand. If necessary, ask a lawyer to check it for you.
Protecting your podcast today is a good way to save yourself trouble in the future. You can do this by:
- investing in legal safeguards such as copywriting your podcasts;
- registering a trademark;
- carefully reading all agreements, contracts, and terms and conditions when you deal with vendors, sponsors, and social media sites;
- protecting your data from leaks;
- and obtaining necessary permissions.
Like any user of a device, you need to ensure that you regularly take steps to protect your data from cyberattacks that could lead to loss, theft, or leaks.