Podcasting and copyrighted material

With the rapid growth of Podcasting it is possible for anyone with a PC, microphone, and a place to host their recorded programming to set up their own “radio” show. It is a fledgling field and the parameters are just being defined now with a few innovative bloggers taking the lead. I think a number of issues affecting Podcasting are going to raise their ugly heads sooner rather than later. A lot of Podcasts I listen to are using really nice background music and I’ll bet a some of it is copyrighted material. I predict we will see some nasty legal battles that end up shutting down some bloggers who are dabbling in Podcasting. It is not a straightforward issue and sure to divide the community into sides, as these issues usually do. I guess the basic truth is that copyrighted material is owned by the copyright holder and their permission must be obtained before using this stuff. No doubt a lot of people will argue that the Podcasters are just little guys and hobbyists and they should be allowed to use this copyrighted music (or other material). The fact will probably come out that some of these Podcasters do in fact do this for money (in the form of advertising or the like) and the issue will get even muddier and messier. Keep an eye out for this- I am predicting this will get nasty.Another issue I think will also create controversy pretty quickly is advertising in Podcasts. The cost of bandwidth for Podcasters is not trivial with a lot of the programs running in the tens of megabytes in size and this is going to put a lot of pressure on the biggest Podcasts to start accepting advertising. What is not clear at this point is how listeners will react to recorded ads in Podcasts and how intrusive they will be. We often see that public reaction to charging for anything on the Internet is often negative so we will see where this goes.The other thing we must watch out for as Podcasting becomes more mainstream is regulation. Right now it is a totally gray area if Podcasts will end up being regulated like radio programs. Let’s face it, regulation pretty much killed off Internet radio and Podcasts are really no different. It will probably take that first landmark case to crop up to determine how the legal issues will play out. This may happen much sooner than we think as mainstream media is not only taking notice but likely to scream bloody murder if Podcasts end up with less regulation than they broadcast under.It will be interesting to keep an eye on Podcasting to see how these things play out. Podcasts are cool- they are just new media and this is a territory that must be defined on the fly.


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