There’s so much anticipation and planning that goes into launching a podcast. The name, the graphics, the episode lineup… all of these things are the “fun part.” A Podcast Guest Contract might be the furthest thing from your mind. But what’s not fun? Getting into a legal tiff with a podcast guest. That’s why you might consider adding “podcast guest contracts” to your pre-launch checklist. Below is a (non-exhaustive!) list of what should be included in a solid Podcast Guest Contract.
Have you asked a guest to submit her company’s logo, her headshot, or her bio? These things constitute intellectual property that you don’t own. In fact, she might not even own the rights to these things. That’s why a good Podcast Guest Contract will require the guest to “warrant and represent” that she has the necessary rights or permission to any materials she submits to you. The contract should also have an indemnification clause, requiring the guest to repay you if you incur legal fees and related expenses from her breach of this term. This way, you can rest easier that your posting of the guest’s headshot won’t get you into cease-and-desist territory. (Or, at the very least, that you won’t break the bank if you do find yourself in that territory).
Name, Image, and Likeness Release.
Remember how copyright and right of publicity are two different things? The paragraph above talks about the guest guaranteeing the rights to any creative content the guest submits. The Podcast Guest Contract should also allow the guest to provide written permission for the use of his name, image, voice, and likeness. Where do you plan to use that likeness? In the podcast itself, surely, but advertising and promotional materials for the podcast, and maybe even your business or website? The Podcast Guest Contract should spell it out for the guest so there are no surprises (or conflicts) down the line. Indemnification should apply here, too — you don’t want to be on the hook if the guest, or any of the guest’s heirs, bringing right of publicity claims against you down the line.
You knew this was coming. Just like a song recording coming out of a studio, a podcast interview will also result in a recording. Who owns that recording? A paragraph in the Podcast Guest Contract should address IP ownership and assign all of the guest’s contributions to the recordings to the podcast owner.
When the Interview Is Just…Bad.
Finally, what happens if you conduct the interview and it doesn’t go according to plan? Maybe your podcast is family-friendly, and the guest was not so family-friendly. Maybe you thought the guest would have a lot to contribute on a particular topic, and she really didn’t say much. Whatever the reason, the Podcast Guest Contract should give the podcast owner an “out.” It should say something to the effect that podcast owner has no obligation to publish or otherwise exploit the podcast episode or recordings. In other words, just because an interview happened, doesn’t mean the interview will ultimately be made available to the public.
The Point: Launching a podcast isn’t just about hitting “record.” A good Podcast Guest Contract should protect the podcast owner from headaches (and expenses) that could arise if the guest and podcast don’t have a mutual understanding.
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