This entry is part of a series dealing with the business fall out of Amanda Congdon's recent departure from Rocket Boom. Please read my background post to get a feel for where I'm coming from on this issue.
What Can A Host Do?
I've mentioned before that I once produced a podcast for a podcast network. When things became untenable there (which they often seem to do in a one-sided power relationship), I left. Sadly, I had to leave 30 shows behind which constituted the better part of a year of my work. Nothing underhanded occurred, however, I knew the deal going in when I signed on.
How can a podcast host protect themselves and their work? The answer largely depends on the arrangement.
If you've been hired on as the host or other talent for a corporate podcast, then you likely have no rights. It's unrealistic to expect a company to provide you with any ownership rights to podcasts which form part of the corporate intellectual property or marketing materials. Know that going in.
If you're an employee who has been picked to become the voice of the corporate podcast, expect the same treatment as anyone else hired on. You shouldn't expect any ownership rights.
If you're in a partnership with someone, then I recommend a 50/50 split agreement. Yes, that means that nobody has directorial authority which can be messy, but it also means that nobody has the upper hand when (not if, when) it comes time to part ways. Mediation of issues other than dissolution can be problematic with a 50/50 split, however, and you may wish to consider outlining a formal dispute resolution process to expedite those moments.
If you're a sole podcaster, then be aware of the agreements that you may be entering into. A sole podcaster who becomes part of a podcast network is likely going to have to sign over some rights. This isn't necessarily evil because the networks need to get something in return for their hosting, bandwidth, and marketing efforts, but podcasters need to go in these agreements with their eyes wide open. My old network shows, for example, are licensed under a Creative Commons license that allows me to do whatever I want with them. That's nice, but it's not quite the same as owning them.
Regardless of who owns a show in the legal sense, podcasters should take every opportunity to promote themselves on their own blogs, personal podcasts, and whatever other vehicles present themselves. When this gig is over, you're going to leave behind a living resume that can be useful for future opportunities.