Should you use a release form with your podcast guests?
Hi, I'm Gordon Firemark, and this is Entertainment Law Asked and Answered, where I help you take your career and business in entertainment to the next level, by answering common entertainment law questions..
Alright, hi everybody.
So, I'm in my podcasting corner of my studio today, because today is September 30th, the International Podcast Day.
And today, rather than answering a question that I get a lot, I wanna share a bit of advice that I always like to give to podcasters and others who are making new media productions, because when you interview guests on your show, there are some pitfalls that you may not be thinking of. And it's real easy to be informal about it and just say, “Hey, will you come on my show?” and they, “Yeah, sure,” and you connect up and everybody talks and it's done.
Well, the problem is, what if that person later on decides that they didn't like the way it came out, they didn't the sound of their voice or their look, or their hair, and they ask you to take the thing down? Or, worse yet, they decide they don't like you or what you stand for anymore, and they ask you to take that episode down. And it can really lead to some big trouble if you don't have something in writing that says, “I understand that you're going to record me, “and you can use my performance in your show, “and any and all media,” and so on and so forth.
This actually came up in a situation in my practice not long ago where a podcaster was actually sued by a former guest on her show. The guest had been an early guest on the show in its first few episodes and shared a point of view about a controversial subject that, at the time, the podcaster shared, and made it known that yes, we agree on this point and so on. And there was a lot of good information contained in this episode.
Well, over time, over several years, the podcaster's point of view on this issue shifted to a more middle of the road angle on it, still acknowledging both sides. This guest got very upset over that change in the editorial direction of the podcast, and insisted that the episode be taken down and that nothing be put up in its place. The podcaster wanted to put up some kind of an explanation, and was asking that the guest would actually write that explanation, “Hey, here's why “I took my episode down.” Guest wanted nothing to do with it, ended up filing a lawsuit for copyright infringement, unfair competition, invasion of privacy, tortious fraud, all kinds of crazy stuff in this lawsuit, and it ended up costing this podcaster a lot of time and energy and money and grief not to mention bunch of sleepless nights.
And all of that could have been resolved, if the podcaster had just used a simple release form that the guest could have signed. I wanna make everybody out there aware of this and I want every podcaster to start using a release form with your guests.
Now, to make it real easy, I've got a free one you can use. It's available at podcastrelease.com. Just go over there, put in your email address, get the form and start using it.
Now, a lot of you are gonna ask, “Well, wait, do I have to use a paper form? “Do they have to print it out and sign it “and mail it back to me and all that?” I think the short answer is, they really should. That's really the right way to do it. I think that signing a piece of paper still carries a lot of formality and importance and you're gonna remember that when it comes time to be, “Oh, I'm upset about “what's on there. “Oh yeah, I signed that release.” If you just have them click a check box or something like that on a web form, that's less, and we do that every day, how many times a day do you click a check box before you click submit? You don't think about what's in that document, you don't read it, right?
So, it's a little less, I mean it's still valid, but I jut think that the persuasive power of something when you've signed a document with ink really makes a big difference. If nothing else, get a recorded acknowledgement that you're going to be recording the show, you're going to be using it. And make sure that you say, “Any and all media, anywhere “forever and ever, and you're not “entitled to any compensat–” you know you've really gotta say all these things.
That's why I want it in writing, if possible. Use the language of the written document and you're in safe territory and there's no way that person can ever win a lawsuit asking you to take down that episode. So, that's the advice.
Go on over to podcastrelease.com, download the free podcast release form and start using it right away. And if you have a question you'd like me to answer here, head on over to firemark.com/questions.
I'll see ya next time.
Hey, Gordon here, with one more little tidbit. If you are interested in more information about podcasting and the law, check out my eBook, The Podcast Blog & New Media Producer's Legal Survival Guide. Head on over to podcastlawbook.com
This is intended as general information only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. It is not a substitute for a private, independent consultation with an attorney selected to advise you after a full investigation of the facts and law relevant to your matter. We will not be responsible for viewers'’ detrimental reliance upon the information appearing in this feature.