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What to do About Podcast Copying

researching what to do about podcasty copying

What to do about podcast copying, including the one question that you really, really need to ask yourself before you even figure out what you’re going to do about it.

So here’s the thing. If somebody’s copying you, there are a few things that you can do. But there’s one question that you really need to ask yourself before you figure out which of those things is the best for you. I’ll tell you about it in one second. But first, here are some of the options when you are a victim of podcast copying.

Contact the infringer directly.

Number one, you can contact the infringer directly. You’d be so surprised at the lack of copyright or any IP knowledge that people have. Some people just don’t know that what they did was wrong. So a lot of times this option works if you are comfortable reaching out to the person directly and telling them hey, here’s what you did, here’s what I own, please stop or take it down.

DMCA takedown request.

You can also submit a DMCA takedown request. You see a DMCA takedown on sites like Facebook (here’s a link to its reporting tool) and YouTube (and here’s YouTube’s.). But basically, it’s like a copyright infringement takedown, where you fill out a form and say what was copied. But it’s that form that allows you to report copyright infringement.

You can always lawyer up!

The next option is consulting with a lawyer to maybe send a cease-and-desist letter, or maybe if it’s a really intense situation, depending on what’s going on, file a lawsuit.

Do nothing.

And then you might do nothing. If you think you might do nothing, I would say at least talk to a lawyer to make sure you’re not giving up your rights to anything if you really want to do nothing.

The one question you need to ask yourself before taking action when podcast copying strikes.

Okay, so I told you, there’s one thing that you need to figure out before you take any of these steps. That thing? Figure out what was copied?

Was it your podcast, general theme? Guess what? That might not be infringement. Same thing with a theme of an episode or subject matter of an episode. But essentially, think about the number of television shows about doctors. A general idea, or a general topic as it might apply to podcasts, is not really protectable under copyright law. Now, did they take your script? Did they take your words and just basically repeat them? That’s a little bit different.

Did they use the same guest that you use? Again, that’s probably not a situation where there is infringement going on unless you had some kind of exclusivity agreement with a guest, where the guest agreed that they would be, you know, your exclusive guest, maybe for a certain amount of time. Then your issue is with the guest, maybe not so much the podcast.

Podcast art? Totally legit. U.S. copyright law absolutely protects things like art, graphic design, and photography. So if someone copies your podcast art, that’s a situation you might want to handle.

Intro music. Again, it’s only an issue if you own that music, or if you licensed it under an exclusive license. “Exclusive license” just means you’re supposed to be the only one with permission to use that specific piece of music. And again, it might be an issue for the licensor — the person that you got the music or the company that you got the music from — maybe not so much the podcast.

Bottom line? If you’re a victim of podcast copying, the first thing you have to do is figure out WHAT was copied. That will dictate your next steps. (Especially if it’s something like an episode theme, which may or may not be protectable.)

So I hope that that helps you to understand some options and some things to ask yourself when you are a victim of podcast copying and I’ll see you next time.

Why a Podcast Trademark Search is a Crucial Prep Step to Launching

woman who might not have conducted a podcast trademark search before launching
Rather watch than read? I got you.

By the end of this post, you will know why I think a podcast trademark search is a crucial prep step before launching. Hint: it comes down to saving you money and stress down the line. So here we go!

What a trademark search uncovers

So how can a trademark search ultimately save you money and stress before launching your podcast? First, it’ll tell you if somebody else is already using that name in connection with a podcast. You could argue that by using it in connection with a podcast (regardless of subject matter), there’s potential for confusion. And if you’ve ever searched for a podcast on Apple podcasts or Stitcher , you know it can get confusing if you’re looking for a podcast based on a name!

So again, a search will tell you if someone else already using the same or similar name. This ultimately saves you money and stress. How? If there is someone else using a similar name in connection with the podcast, you could save yourself from the experience of being on the receiving end of a cease-and-desist letter. And this rolls into reason number two…

Eliminate the surprise, and stressful scramble, from a cease-and-desist letter (to the extent possible)

It can be very stressful to be on the receiving end of a cease and desist letter. And if you have a trademark search done on the front end, that can save you the stress of finding yourself on the defensive and having to scramble when you receive a cease-and-desist letter. Of course it’s impossible to guarantee results 100%, but a search should uncover the obstacles that are out there. It’s worth spending a little money on the front end to save you from spending a lot of money on 1) an attorney to handle the cease and desist and related settlement, 2) a potential rebrand, and so on.

A podcast trademark search can help identify whether your chosen name is protectable

Let’s say there is someone else using a name similar to yours and connect with a podcast. In fact, let’s say there are TEN others using a name similar to yours. By using that name, it could be hard for you to police or protect your name from use by others when there are already ten others. So a trademark search can tell you the extent to which the name is used by anyone else. This can uncover whether you will have a hard time protecting your chosen name from use by others.

And yes, a trademark search can tell you whether there are any roadblocks to trademark registration. But ultimately, you can save yourself some stress and money in the form of having to scramble, rebrand, and maybe being on the receiving end of a cease and desist letter. Also, from a value standpoint, it can help to be sure you’re choosing a name that is protectable.

I hope this helps you understand why I think a trademark search is a crucial step before launching a podcast.

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woman contemplating a podcast trademark search

IP Protection for Podcasts

woman researching ip protection for podcasts

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.

Show Notes.

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.

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.)

Video Content.

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.

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Learn to Create a “Legal” Podcast Ad Before Hitting Record

I think it’s safe to say that it’s a goal for every podcaster is to either use the podcast as a tool to bring in business directly, or to line up some bangin’ sponsorships and advertisements on the show. (Maybe both.)

But there are some rules for advertising on podcasts.

This post will educate you on “legally” advertising on your podcast and by the end you’ll have a good understanding of certain rules that you need to keep in mind if you want to create a “legal” podcast ad.

Online sponsorships in general

So if you’ve been following Spear IP for a while, you’ve heard me talk about sponsored posts on instagram and influencer and blogger sponsorships, right Essentially, the FTC says that you must be fair and clear and transparent when there is a sponsored relationship with a brand that you are promoting.

So how does this apply to podcasts? Well, if your audience has to ask “Was that an advertisement just now?”

You’re not doing it right.

Just as with the instagram and influencer space, in the podcast space it must be clear to your audience when there is a sponsorship relationship with a brand.

Remember, too, that you don’t have to receive actual money in order for there to be a sponsored relationship with a brand, right? If they send you free goods or if you get free services in exchange for promoting a brand on the podcast, that’s a sponsored relationship.

A quick example of a “legal” podcast ad

create a "legal" podcast ad before hitting record

So how do you create a “legal” podcast ad?
Well, one of my favorite examples is on the podcast The Sporkful.
They have this great couple of variations of a sound reel that goes something like “Mmm, time for some advertisements! Yummy!”  (Hear it for yourself.) So obviously, the content that follows is an advertisement.

You don’t have to go that far, but something like a sound effect, to kind of break up the actual podcast content from the advertising content, that could work, of course saying that there’s a sponsored relationship or saying that it’s an advertisement, or that the podcast is powered by or sponsored by a company, that’s pretty clear.

An easy-to-understand breakdown of the rules for creating a “legal” podcast ad

Keep in mind that a clear disclaimer or a clear disclosure is not ambiguous.

And you can stay on brand when you make that disclosure! It doesn’t have to be dry or technical or super legal-sounding. if you have a personal experience with a brand, or a product, or a service, you can tell that story, it’s just that it should still be clear that there is a sponsorship at play. Your listeners shouldn’t question whetheryou’ve received something in exchange for giving that testimonial about the brand.

So there you go. You need your clear disclosures, and now you have a few ways that you can set off that ad content from the actual body of the podcast episode.

I hope that those things help you understand certain rules when the time comes to create a “legal” podcast ad.

And hey, if you’re interviewing guests for your podcast, check out Spear IP’s Podcast Guest Contract Kit™.

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And Now for Year Four

Spear IP Third Anniversary Year Four

Wow! It’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that Spear IP celebrates its third anniversary this month. Here’s a look back at the great opportunities year three brought with it, and a peek at what’s in store for year number four.

Continue reading “And Now for Year Four”

Protecting Your Pod[cast]: The Podcast Guest Contract

Protecting Your Pod Podcast Guest Contract Spear IP Maria Spear Ollis intellectual property detroit nashville lawyer podcast guest appearance contract

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.

Continue reading “Protecting Your Pod[cast]: The Podcast Guest Contract”