By the end of this post you will understand a little bit more about IP protection for podcasts. I’ll go into some of the different elements of your podcast and whether they are protectable under copyright versus trademark. Here we go!
Your Podcast Name.
Easy one, right?
That is protectable under trademark law. The name of your show is a brand name. As such, it acts as a “signifier” or “identifier.” In other words, it identifies the source of your podcast.
So, podcast name = trademark.
The show notes can consist of literally what you plug into Stitcher or iTunes as the description of your episode (in which case, text = copyright). Or, you can take a transcript of your entire episode and create show notes based on that transcript and post it to your blog. Again: transcript = text = copyright.
Your logo might appear on your website, it probably appears on Stitcher or iTunes. A logo, again, is a source-identifier and your listeners identify your podcast based on seeing that logo. So, logo = trademark.
Next is a sound bite that you might share on social. You could share a clip on instagram or on YouTube. And sound, in this context, is an audio recording.
A recording is protectable under copyright law.
Hashtags are a little bit trickier! Whether you are sharing an episode or a snippet of an episode online, on a blog post, or on social media, you’re likely using a few hashtags to generate attention and to get that post seen.
Well, hashtags like #detroitpodcaster #nashvillepodcaster #kansascitypodcaster are not necessarily branding but are descriptive in order to get users to find you more easily.
So hashtags can be trademarks. You can use your own trademark as a hashtag to kind of label that post. But more likely hashtags are not protectable under copyright or trademark and they’re just descriptors.
Again, though, it’s important to understand that if you’re using an actual trademark as a hashtag, obviously, that is a trademark. (And you don’t want to use misleading hashtags, either, or anything that could lead to #trademarkinfringement.)
Another easy one!
Whether you are recording your podcast to be released on YouTube — releasing an audiovisual recording — or releasing just the audio recording with some kind of other visual element to it, whether it’s a graphic or otherwise — that video content is prime for copyright. It is creative content that is protectable under copyright law.
Your Podcast Icon.
That little square graphic. It goes along with each podcast episode and that identifies your podcast among the millions available in the several podcast apps.
It’s almost like an album cover, right? It is album artwork for the podcast world.
Even though your logo very well might appear on that graphic, that graphic itself is artwork. It is a graphic design.
And so, icon = artwork = copyright.
So I hope that quick-fire round helps you understand IP protection for podcasts. Now you have an idea as to what is protectable under trademark versus copyright.