Staying Legally Legit While Launching and Scaling your Own Podcast

Staying Legally Legit While Launching and Scaling your Own Podcast

We’re living in the podcast gold rush! Podcast listenership has gone up 120% over the past four years. But the podcast landscape is missing something…you! You’ve got stuff to say, important stuff! Podcasts can be your primary hustle, a savvy pillar of your marketing strategy, or a means of engaging with your clientele.

“I’m a talker, and can press record, I’m all set to start a podcast!” You say. If only it was that simple. *sigh*. Every stage of launching and scaling a podcast is scattered with legal pitfalls. 

But we’ve got your back with some tips, because we want to hear your important stuff! 

Trade mark your territory 

Naturally, you already have a super funky, catchy name for your poddy in mind. 

First off, check that the name you have in mind, or a similar sounding one, isn’t already associated with a registered trade mark. IP Australia has a handy quick search function, and an accompanying user guide. Do your diligence before you start name-dropping the poddy to your adoring fans, or investing in branding materials displaying it. It could be both awkward and expensive if the host of your podcast doppelganger slides into your DMs.  Using another person’s trade mark is known as ‘passing off’ and it’s illegal, friends.

Making things a scooch more complicated is the fact there are different classes of trade marks. You need to search to ensure no one is using the same name in the same class as you. When you use the quick search function it will return all registered trade marks containing those search terms, as well the class of goods or service that the trade mark is attached to. For example, if you search ‘TIM TAM’ (I’m feeling snacky. Don’t judge me!), you’ll see the registered owner of the trade mark is Arnott’s and it falls under Class 30 which are goods that include confectionery. Podcasts can be classified as both goods and services. While not exhaustive, podcasts will generally fall under Classes 9, 38, 35 or 41. But make sure you have a look-see yourself at the complete list of trade marks

Next decision! So no one else has registered your poddy name as a trade mark. Are you going to? There are pros and cons to weigh up. (Btw, if you want more of a run down on trade marking in Aus, we have just the podcast for you! A podcast to assist your podcast venture. Très meta). 

The cons of registering as a trade mark: those old chestnuts: time and money. You register your podcast’s name as a trade mark via an online application through IP Australia. It can cost anywhere between $130 - $480 per class to register, and you’ll likely need to register your podcast in multiple classes. 

Once submitted, the application sits with IP Australia for three to four months while they check you’ve listed the correct classes and jumped through all the appropriate legislative and bureaucratic hoops. There are no refunds for applications containing errors (no pressure). Calling all type A’s, amiright? If you feel you need help, we are here for you! 

To be honest, you can get away with not registering the name as a trade mark. You can (nay, you SHOULD) pop a ‘TM’ next to the name of your podcast even where you haven’t registered it. How fun is the word nay? Anyway, the ‘TM’ gives notice you are claiming that trade mark, like that passive aggressive colleague who plasters post-it notes featuring their name dramatically scribed in Sharpie on their sandwich in the office fridge. There’s one in every workplace. 

But we are all for being proactive in life and in business. Although we make gorgeous, accessible legal templates that don’t look or feel legal-y, we can’t take off our risk-averse lawyer hats. Like the post-its are not a full-proof safeguard (not when I’m around anyway), nor is the ‘TM’. The pros of registering include upgrading your ‘TM’ to the ®. And with that humble little symbol comes legally enforceable, exclusive rights. We are fans of the delicate phrase, choose your class and cover your arse! Beyond the legal stuff, having a registered trade mark can be an extremely powerful marketing tool and bolster the value of your business. Newbies who go through the trade mark process after you will be alerted in their search that you own the trade mark, i.e. keep your mitts off. And if anyone uses your trade mark, it will be an offence under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010

If you want our two cents worth, registering is a sensible investment. Whatever separates you and your brand from the rest of the market should be protected fiercely! Maybe hold off for a few months, until your podcast finds its groove. Oftentimes, creative ventures evolve into some you might not have imagined at their conception. When you do make the investment, you want the trade marked name to have longevity and align with the vibe of your podcast! 

The art of podcasting 

Your podcast will feature inspired content. That’s a given. But humans are superficial creatures (we gravitate to sequins! Or is that just me…). It’s worth investing time and resources into the podcast cover art. It’s your primary piece of marketing material, and what will attract new listeners when they’re perusing the Apple and Spotify libraries. 

The safest strategy to avoiding copyright infringement is to create original cover art. Did someone (YOU) say have a sweet collab with a local independent artist/graphic designer??? 

DON’T FORGET to have a written agreement with the designer, giving you full copyright to use and distribute the art! Sorry to yell, blame the lawyer hat. 

Otherwise there are a bunch of websites where you can purchase ready-to-be licensed artwork, like Creative Market.

FYI, if you plan for your podcast to feature in Apple Podcasts (which you totes should, because the masses need to hear your important stuff!), your artwork will need to meet Apple’s requirements.

Take out the guest work  

You’ve lured someone into your recording studio (sometimes AKA your home office) and told them to speak into a microphone.  Wow, that sounded creepy. But it’s not creepy. You have a podcast guest! 

Before you record with your guest, let alone publish the podcast or promote their episode anywhere publically, have them sign a release. This document confirms they consent to you publicising their name and likeness. For peace of mind that you’re legally covered, we recommended getting your hands on a Podcast Guest Release Form Template. All the ‘t’s are crossed and all ‘i's dotted, so let the banter and insightful chat fly!

Legally sound(s)

You’ve got your content recorded, yay! Now you want to add pizazz. Don’t get us wrong, you’ve got a voice like honey that we could listen to all day. But weaving in some musical intros, outros and transitions ensures your listeners don’t feel like they’re attending a lecture. 

Unfortunately, you can’t just pluck a song from the charts and insert it into your podcast. By law, you need artist’s consent (preferably written) for all music you use (so if you’re pen pals with Beyoncé, you’re in luck!).  

You can seek consent in the form of a music license agreement, but this can be an expensive endeavour when you’re first starting out – let’s brainstorm some creative options! Let’s be real. This presents you with an incredible opportunity to get another creative’s work out there! Scan your network for the musically inclined and see if they’d be interested in a collab. 

Otherwise, there’s a plethora of free music resources out there to jazz up your poddy, such as Pixabay, YouTube Audio Library, the Free Music Archive and Creative Commons Search. Have a squiz at the individual terms of use.  Some of the platforms are copyright free so you can download the track and never look back, others dictate you must give the artist credit in order to use it for free. 

Now get to it! We’re itching to hear your important stuff! If you need a hand, you know where to find us. We love donning our lawyer hats! They’re sequined. 


***Disclaimer. Please read!!***

This article is for general information purposes only and should be used solely as general guidance.  It does not and is not intended to represent legal advice or other professional advice.