Creative Commons Canada, led by Andy-Kaplan Myrth and Kathleen Simmons, have published a legal guide for podcasting in Canada. Andy and Kathi presented the guide at the Podcasters Across Borders 2007 conference this past weekend. I was honoured to write the forward for the publication, which I think will help thousands of Canadians bring their voices online.
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has faced seemingly continuous criticism for years, however, in May 1999 it released a decision that generated near-universal praise. The New Media decision, which adopted a hands-off regulatory approach to new media, was widely regarded as the right decision at the right time.
Since that ruling, a remarkable array of new media services have emerged outside of the traditional broadcast regulation model. Few offer as much promise as podcasting. Conventional broadcasters have jumped on the podcasting bandwagon, with many now offering podcasts of favourite shows bundled together with advertising, yet it is the thousands of Canadians creating homegrown audio content who are responsible for the freshest, most original, and most diverse programming.
The Canadian podcasting community is emerging as an important voice in Canada that deserves broad support and attention. While accessible and easy-to-use technology has removed many technological barriers for would-be podcasters, the legal challenges can be daunting. Podcasting touches on several legal areas, including copyright, trademark, and personality rights, each of which brings its own complexities and uncertainties. Conventional broadcasters typically enjoy the benefit of internal legal resources, however, until now most individual podcasters have been forced to confront legal questions on their own.
The arrival of the Podcasting Legal Guide for Canada addresses that dilemma. Andy-Kaplan Myrth, Kathleen Simmons, and Creative Commons Canada have come together to produce a first-rate legal guide that will undoubtedly become a "must-read" for the Canadian podcasting community. The guide helpfully unpacks complicated legal issues, providing straightforward guidance on the use of text and music within podcasts. Moreover, by focusing exclusively on Canadian law, the guide will help to eliminate the tendency to confuse U.S. and Canadian approaches to the law associated with podcasting.
After reading the guide, many podcasters may well conclude that the law is in dire need of reform, as its complexity remains a significant challenge for many future Canadian podcasters. If so, it will have an unintended benefit – educating podcasters about the state of Canadian law and galvanizing this important group to become more vocal on issues related to copyright law reform.
As audiences continue to grow, the legal issues associated with producing podcasts become unavoidable. This guide makes an important contribution to our understanding of those legal issues and promises to assist a new generation of Canadians who require little more than a personal computer and the Internet to make their voices heard.