Are Podcasts Public Domain?


Dear future/ up and coming podcasters, you might be wondering if your podcast is protected by copyright law or not. Perhaps you are interested in this because you are thinking of using someone else’s podcast in your own podcast.

So, are podcasts public domain?

Podcasts are not public domain. If you are located in the United States, then your podcast is copyrighted and not considered to be public domain as long as the podcast’s content is original and is fixed in a tangible medium of expression. 

If you want to understand what the term “fixed in a tangible medium of expression” means and learn more about why podcasts are not considered to be public domain, then continue reading this blog post.

DISCLAIMER: This blog post was created for educational purposes only and is NOT legal advice. If you have any copyright problems, I highly recommend that you contact a licensed attorney

Are podcasts public domain?

No, podcasts are not considered to be public domain. Why? Because almost anything original that gets posted on the internet is automatically being copyrighted! This means that even podcasts are copyrighted.

Public Domain

A podcast is considered to be copyrighted when its content meets two essential requirements. These requirements are the following:

  • Your podcast’s content should be original. Originality is defined as coming up with an idea independently and creativity, and that you are not copying your content from another content creator.
  • Your podcast must be fixed in what is called “a tangible means of expression”. This legal phrase simply means that your original content exists on a physical medium, so your podcast is recorded and is available on something physical like an audiotape.

So if a podcast falls fulfills both of these requirements, then it is copyrighted. This means that podcasts are not public domain.

Now, let us talk about these two requirements in more detail.

Your podcast’s content should be original.

But, what does the word original actually mean? Does it even exist, and if it does, what is it exactly?

The term” Originality is sometimes considered to be a Boogie Man because almost all of the ideas that are presented as creative, out of the box, and have never been done before are actually all borrowed ideas with a twist.

Luckily, ideas can not be copyrighted, so this allows people who come with the same ideas but create content that is slightly different to be considered original.

A great example of this that is outside the podcasting world would be fairy-tale retellings and movies with similar plotlines.

How come there are at least a few different Cinderalla retellings being published every year, and they all seem to be copyrighted, and thus original content in the eyes of the copyright law.

Or let us talk about how Divergent and the Hunger Games were often compared to each other because they are both Dystopian Young Adult novels. However, they are just similar and not identical, and that is the key to being original in the eyes of copyright law.

So if you run a podcast that is similar to other podcasts or that is inspired by any piece of work, but it is not identical, your podcast is still to be copyrighted and not public domain.

In other words, similarity is not the same thing as identically, and thus that content is copyrighted and not public domain.

Let us assume that you run a baking podcast, and there are other baking podcasts available, would yours not be considered original if you do similar recipes with a bit of a twist. It would still be original and thus not public domain.

Yes, you can discuss similar things as other podcasts; just make sure that you approach explaining things differently and that you have a unique personality.

Your podcast must be fixed in what is called “a tangible means of expression”.

If you are scratching the back of your head after reading this, do not worry because I did the same thing too.

This legal term sounds too sophisticated and complicated, but after I have done a bit of research, I finally understood what it meant.

This term is considered to be a fixation requirement that allows you to copyright your podcast’s content by converting original ideas to copyrighted work.

This fixation requirement means that a creator should transform their original idea into something that exists in any type of physical form. Since we are discussing podcasts and why they are not public domain, this means that this fixation is them being recorded.

Yup, to meet the second requirement that is intimidating to read and understand, all that one must do is have their podcast’s episodes recorded, and it will be copyrighted as long as the content is original.

You do not even have to post your podcast anywhere. As long as your podcast is recorded and original, your podcast won’t be public domain, and it will be copyrighted.

A picture defining what copyright means

In a nutshell, when you record original content for your podcast, it is officially under the Unites States copyright protection and, thus, not public domain.

What are copyright laws?

Copyright laws are laws that exist to protect people’s content from getting stolen. This means that a copyrighted podcast is protected by law, and that prevents others from taking your podcast’s content.

So, copyright laws protect any podcaster’s, artist’s, writer’s, musician’s, or any content creator’s original content from being stolen or reproduced by others. If they were public domain, people would be legally able to use, reproduce, and profit from your work.

Let us use an example that so many people seem to think about, which is adding music to your podcast. The thing is, you can not use copyrighted music in your podcast. If you were considering using your favorite Paramore song in your podcast, you should not do it.

Where to legally get music for your podcast?

If you want to learn more about copyrights when it comes and where you can legally get some tunes for your podcast, then make sure to read my Where to Legally Get Music for Your Podcast blog post.

Check out my recommended podcast media sites to find out what is the best royalty-free music site that you can use to get customized intro and outro music.

Other questions related to copyright your podcast?

How to Copyright Your Podcast?

If you are located in the United States, then your podcast is copyrighted and not considered to be public domain as long as the podcast’s content is original and is fixed in a tangible medium of expression. 

This legal phrase simply means that your original content exists on a physical medium, so your podcast is recorded and is available on something physical like an audiotape.

To read more about this topic, make sure that you read my How to copyright your podcast blog post.

Where to get music for a podcast?

There are many sites that you can use to get music that you can legally play in your podcast’s episodes. If you want some tunes that fall under the Creative Commons License, then check out (The Free Music Archive). This is a website that has a lot of music that can be used for free if you attribute the artist of the track.

To learn more about where you can get some tunes for your podcast legally and without getting copyrighted and you are interested in understanding how exactly copyright laws work, then read my Where to Legally Get Music for Your Podcast blog post.

How long should the music in a podcast intro be?

There is no wrong answer when it comes to answering how long a podcast intro music should be. A podcast’s intro usually lasts less than thirty seconds, but it can also sometimes just under a minute. It all depends on how long your intro is and your preference.

Check out my How Long Should The Podcast Intro Music Be blog post if you are interested in learning about this in more detail.

How often should I podcast?

It depends on how long it takes you to record an episode, how much free time you have to record an episode, and what is your average podcast episode length. Depending on your answers, you could end up podcasting daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.

You can learn more about the factors that play into the answer to this question by checking out my How Often Should I Podcast blog post.

That’s it for today’s post. You should know now that podcasts are not public domain and that they are copyrighted if they meet the two essential copyright law requirements.

These two requirements are the following:

  1. Your podcast’s content should be original. Originality is defined as coming up with an idea independently and creativity, and that you are not copying your content from another content creator. 
  2. Your podcast must be fixed in what is called “a tangible means of expression”. This legal phrase simply means that your original content exists on a physical medium, so your podcast is recorded and is available on something physical like an audiotape.

My Sources

Till next time,

Ayah

Ayah Assem

I am a creator and a consumer of many forms of artistic content. With podcasting leaving its mark and declaring its significance in the current content world, I have decided to learn everything related to how to create a podcast. Who knows, maybe in the near future I will start uploading and sharing my creative work in the audio format. Join me on my journey of understanding the podcasting world, as I will be sharing with you all of the information that I am going to learn. Feel free to share with me your podcasting journey at podcastingdiaries@gmail.com and keep an eye on all of the music, books, podcasts, movies, tv shows, and YouTube channels that I always reference.

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