Many small companies and individuals are looking to benefit from the more than 62 million Americans listening to podcasts each week. However, a significant legal concern is the arrangement between those involved with creating or producing the podcast. If a podcast collaboration goes wrong, it can result in lost revenue and irreparable damage to the podcast’s reputation. The best way to avoid problems for your podcast is to consult an attorney who can clearly document the terms of the collaboration in writing.
What is a Co-Host Agreement?
A co-host agreement is a contract describing the respective roles, rights and obligations of co-hosts, co-owners or co-creators. This is necessary to avoid misunderstandings that could jeopardize the podcast.
The first issue for the agreement is to define the relationship. A “co-host” may refer to someone who is hosting the on-air portion, a joint owner of the show or something else. The person’s specific role, rights and obligations should be addressed in a written agreement.
Podcast content is subject to copyright law and as such, it is important to understand who owns the podcast. Do you and the co-host jointly own the copyright, or did you hire the co-host to create the podcast? Under copyright law, a collaborative work arrangement will generally result in joint ownership, unless there is an agreement to the contrary.
Typically, the author or creator of a work is owner of the work for copyright law purposes. However, there is an exception for works for hire where a work is created within the author’s scope of employment or subject to a written agreement. If you are engaging in a work for hire scenario, then you must take care to clarify the co-host’s rights.
Note that only the copyright owner has the right to publish, distribute, license or repurpose the work. If there are joint owners, then they both must agree how to use the copyrighted material.
Duties and Obligations
The co-host agreement must clearly state each party’s duties and obligations. This may include how certain work responsibilities will be shared. For example, who handles:
- Creative development (writing, editing, directing)
- Finding guests
- On-air hosting
- Financial management
- Legal matters
In some cases, the parties may want to designate one person to have decision-making authority to avoid a stalemate or delays.
In addition, the parties must decide their respective monetary contributions and revenue share.
Payment or Compensation
The parties should detail compensation terms in the agreement. This includes the precise amount to be paid or how it will be calculated, as well as the method and timing of payments. If services will be bartered in lieu of payment, those services should also be specified.
Conflicts can happen in any business relationship, so it is imperative to be proactive and plan for them. The co-host agreement can specify how disputes will be resolved, such as through arbitration or mediation. It can also detail what occurs if the relationship ends.
The agreement should indicate who retains ownership rights. Typically, one party will get all rights to the project, including the right to make money off past episodes and future merchandising rights. The party who obtains the rights will also want the ability to use the departing host’s name, likeness and voice in connection with past episodes. In return, the other party will be released from any obligations relating to the podcast and may receive monetary compensation.
Podcasts have great business potential, but if you are considering starting a podcast of your own, an experienced attorney can advise you regarding any legal issues that may affect your podcast. The best way to ensure a successful start to your venture is to have a carefully drafted co-host agreement to prevent misunderstandings in the future.
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