FYB 106 | Podcast Cyberbullying

As a podcaster, have you ever thought about how the law works for the content you create and vice versa? Did you ever stop to think about the ways your podcast content could be construed as cyberbullying or defamation? Knowing the legal consequences behind content creation and publishing is often overlooked, but it is critical in protecting the work you do and your consumers. In this episode, Tom Hazzard and Tracy Hazzard sit down with Atty. Maria Speth to discuss digital law and the legalities that more podcasters should think about. As an expert on the subject, Maria gives realistic examples of when and how lawsuits get filed within the realm of digital content. Tune in and gain valuable insights you can use for your brand.

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Legal Consequences Of Podcast Cyberbullying & Defamation With Special Expert Atty. Maria Speth

We’ve got a very special guest for you and we’re going to talk about a subject that should be of interest to all podcasters out there.

We’re going to talk about podcast cyberbullying, defamation, libel and slander. We’ve been hearing about some of these things in the news lately. I couldn’t think of a better expert to bring on. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about our expert because you met her first?

We have Maria Speth with us who is an attorney and with particular expertise in the areas of copyright and also knowledge on these things like defamation. She has been an advisor to organizations like CEO Space International, which is how we met her. I think we’ve known her since 2015. She also advises that organization on all of their legal website issues. I know there is a lot more to her credentials than I could recite here. We couldn’t think of a better expert to have on to share with our podcasters and audience.

She’s our go-to referral expert. If someone said, “I have this huge problem as a podcaster and I’m in the midst of something,” Maria is the person we’re going to send them to. Why not have her come on and do some preemptive things and give us some advice, to begin with. That’s why we decided to have Maria here with us. We’re talking about our responsibilities as podcasters. What responsibilities do we have to be careful of cyberbullying, to be aware of and understand what the differences are between defamation, libel, slander and anything that we might step into? This is important because we have a responsibility to edit our shows. If our guest says something, do we have a responsibility to remove that or are we leaving that in? What are our choices and what are our responsibilities here? Maria, thank you so much for joining us.

I’m glad to be here. Thank you, Tracy and Tom, for having me.

That article that I sent you was an article on a conservative podcaster in Northern California, Yuba County, who made some threats against a specific health official and ended up in court over it, got a restraining order against him for cyberbullying. That’s that first example where I said, “We need to talk about this,” because people think that that’s okay. I say, “We got to string them all up. That’s maybe not the thing we should be saying,” and in this case, this guy certainly got into some significant legal trouble over it. What is cyberbullying and what responsibilities do we have as podcasters?

First of all, we start the entire discussion with where we want to start it as Americans and that’s the First Amendment. We have a First Amendment right to free speech and to speak our minds, but that is not an unlimited right. It gets limited in several different ways and two of them you’ve mentioned. One is, I don’t have a right to make false statements about somebody that might harm their reputation. That’s going to be defamation or libel. I don’t have a right to make statements that could put people in harm, either emotionally or physically. A threat to assault somebody would not be protected by the First Amendment. When we harass somebody, it may get to the level where it becomes a crime, where it’s not only not protected by the First Amendment and you could be civilly sued, but it even could rise to the level of a crime.

For those of you who don’t live and breathe the legal system the way I do, there are criminal cases and civil cases. Civil cases are when two people have a dispute against each other and criminal cases are when the government comes after you and says, “I’m going to put you in jail.” Either one of those things can happen with cyberbullying. If I make a statement, whether it’s on a podcast or through any electronic means, most states in this country, not all states, have specific statutes that say that you can’t do that. It’s not protected by the First Amendment, so I could be subjecting myself to civil liability to get sued for it. Let’s say I say something that causes you emotional distress, you could sue me for that emotional distress. It even could rise to the level where it violates a criminal statute because I’ve said something that’s considered to be cyberbullying or harassment under the statute.

The more influence you gain in the public limelight, the more responsible you need to be. Click To Tweet

Because I’m in Arizona, I’m going to give you the Arizona version. Every state has a somewhat different or similar version, but harassment in Arizona is defined as anonymously, which we see a lot on the internet, but maybe not so much in podcasts, but we see a lot on the internet, or otherwise, context communicates or causes a communication with another person by verbal, electronic, mechanical, telegraphic, telephonic or written means in a manner that harasses the person. From there, it escalates. It can be a misdemeanor and go up to a felony, depending on how bad it is.

Harassment is typically defined as you’re intending to disrupt somebody’s world and cause them emotional distress, and you’re saying things in a way that’s causing them emotional distress. That has to be somewhat objective. It can’t be like I’m super sensitive and emotionally distressed because I didn’t like what you said. People take it that far. It has to be, objectively, that the average reasonable person would have an emotional reaction to this.

Does that only apply when it’s directed at a single person? In the case that happened in Northern California that I was referring to with the cyberbullying, that was an attack on a very specific named health official. There are lots of people out there who say, “Those judges, health officials and secretaries of state,” whatever that might be. They’re going out there with that rhetoric. Does that still apply if then death threats happened on the other end or something like that?

Probably not. It would be very difficult to tie together a general statement that doesn’t target any specific person. It’s not impossible. I say something generally, let’s say, podcasters. I decide to go off on podcasters. I get out there and tell everybody that, “Everybody who does a podcast is a worthless human being. They should all be strung up and be killed.” Somebody then comes along and does it because, for some reason, they think I’m a saint. That will then go to a criminal prosecutor who would decide is there enough to connect my general statement with some crazy person actually taking action. That’s going to be very fact-sensitive.

I’m glad you said that that way because this is exactly what has happened with Joe Rogan, for instance, and we all hear about Joe Rogan all the time. Some health advice happened on-air and because it was quite generic advice, but his response to that is, “I’m an idiot. Who listens to me?” He said that about himself. That was his way of walking back his comments from the edge.

People do listen to him and I think the more influence you gain in the public limelight, the more responsible you need to be because the more likely it is that somebody might take what you’re saying to heart, somebody who’s a little off anyway. There’s that personal and moral responsibility. It can rise to the level where a criminal prosecutor can decide to try to connect what you said to what somebody else did. That’s not the norm but it can rise to that level.

It may be more likely in the podcasting world that somebody is more personally offended by something you might say. It takes a certain level to rise to maybe getting the attention of a District Attorney and to prosecute you for a crime. It’s probably a much lower bar for someone to be offended and sue you civilly. Would you agree with that?

Yes. If somebody wants to sue you for emotional distress because of something you said on a podcast, I would say that if you didn’t direct your comments to that person directly, they would have a very difficult case and would probably get thrown out. When somebody starts a sentence with, “Can I get sued for,” I like to be a little smart aleck and say, “Yes,” before they finish the sentence because you can be sued for anything, but is that lawsuit going to be frivolous? Is it going to last? If somebody tries to sue you because you made a general comment that distressed them, and you didn’t mention them, you didn’t lie about them, and you didn’t harass them directly, that isn’t going to go anywhere. That gets down to this First Amendment idea of I have a right to free speech. You don’t have to agree with what I say and you can be as upset as you want with what I say.

FYB 106 | Podcast Cyberbullying

Podcast Cyberbullying: Civil cases are when two people have a dispute and criminal cases are when the government comes after you and says, “I’m going to put you in jail.”

The fact that I caused harm is not enough. I have to violate some law or I have to create some cause of action. It has the elements like I did this and this. A classic example would be lying about somebody. I call out a particular person and I say something about them that isn’t true that would cause the average person to hold them in lower regard as a result. That’s classic defamation and I can absolutely not only be sued for that, but I can end up losing that case.

We have something here we coined over the years, the EX’s rule. We call it the EX’s rule because it happened to us early on in the podcast editing production side of our business. Someone came and said that they mentioned their ex-wife’s name on-air and she got upset by it. As far as we knew when we were listening to it, he just mentioned her name. There was no context. It wasn’t said negatively. I’m sure podcasts hosts probably find something like this. However, our role was, if you want it out, it’s out because it makes them uncomfortable. If all else fails, take it out. That’s our rule here.

Everybody who has a podcast sets their own rules on what is allowed and what is not allowed. Some podcasts intentionally want to be very abrasive and others don’t want that. That’s the beauty of the law here in the First Amendment. You get to set that tone. It’s your business and podcast. You set it the way that you want to. If you want to get out there on the ledge, it’s nice to know where that ledge is and where that line is. Telling a lie about somebody that’s going to hurt them is definitely going to cross the line. The other thing that’s going to cross the line is it maybe not a single statement where you say something bad directed to somebody, but a continuation or pattern of that can become harassing. If that person is maybe more vulnerable.

For instance, a lot of times, what we see get prosecuted in the cyberbullying world is kids. Not the kids getting prosecuted but statements about kids. When you have somebody who’s targeting a child, the prosecutors are much more likely to prosecute that than I’m harassing a public figure. He or she is a big boy or a big girl, and they can handle it. The prosecutors are going to be like, “Get over it.” If it’s a private individual or a vulnerable individual for some reason, and how much influence do you have? How much of a platform do you have? If nobody’s listening to me and I’m not Joe Rogan, it probably doesn’t matter. If I’m influential and it’s affecting somebody’s life because people are coming up to them on the street and say, “Are you that woman who so-and-so keeps talking about on their podcast?” That can rise to the level of harassment.

We should maybe define a couple of these things because you greatly divide cyberbullying. That was fantastic and has helped. There’s libel, slander and defamation. We hear these terms. What do they mean?

Defamation is the umbrella. It’s anytime you publish a false statement about someone else that is negative and harms them. Libel and slander are two different variations of that. Libel is the written word and slander is the spoken word. That’s the only difference.

We have somewhat both here because many of our podcasters publish them as blogs. We have the spoken word and the written word going on. That comes to the next question that I had written down here. Our podcasters are technically publishers. Does that elevate their responsibilities?

I want to start with what we know under the law and then we’ll expand it. We know that a newspaper is a publisher and when they choose to publish an editorial, they become responsible for what that person says. What we also know is that a website is not a publisher. When a website chooses to publish what somebody else says, they are not responsible as a publisher. That’s under Section 230 of the Federal Code and it says that you cannot treat an internet service provider, somebody who provides internet service, including a web operator, as a publisher of content that they did not create. In a pure website world, you didn’t create the content. You have a blog. You let other people post on the blog.

Opinion is completely protected. You can never get sued for defamation for giving your opinion. Click To Tweet

A classic example would be Yelp. I post on Yelp and I either lie about somebody or I post a review that’s false in some way. Yelp is not responsible for it. It’s very clear under the law. Let’s take the scenario where I’m a guest on your show and I make a statement that is false and defamatory. Do you become responsible for my statement? Are you protected by Section 230 or not? That is unclear under the law because unlike a website that lets people come on and post content, you have a unique ability to monitor my content because you are publishing it a little bit more than a website.

I’m asking the questions, right?

You’re asking the questions and involved in it. You easily could edit it out before you choose to publish the podcast. It would be difficult for you to argue that you’re protected by Section 230 in the actual interview that is going on, but I would not write that argument off. I would make that argument if I needed to because it’s unclear under the law.

It’s more likely the podcaster or the host of the show who’s in control of the content and the editing is to be considered a publisher than the listening app like Apple Podcasts, Spotify or something. Would you agree with that?

I totally agree. The automated app where I can record something myself is going to very likely or has already been determined to fall under Section 230 immunity.

In a sense, they’re only refeeding something that is a newsfeed from somewhere else. That goes even further than that. Bloggers and websites, but if I’m in control of that website and that’s my podcast’s blog, then that’s not publishing. I’m basically rewriting the words that are in my podcast. I’m not covered as a publisher in that particular situation. Am I?

Your words are not, but if you let people guest blog and you let somebody post on your blog, you’re not responsible for what they do.

The guest interview is my interview with them. That still falls under the responsibility area.

FYB 106 | Podcast Cyberbullying

Podcast Cyberbullying: Emotional distress has to be objective to where only the average reasonable person would have an emotional reaction to this.

Yes. The difference is whether you were a content provider. That’s the actual language of the statute, whether you were responsible for the content, not just the publication of the content but the actual content.

We’re entering such an interesting world as podcasters because, in some respects and in lots of different types of podcasts, you’re entering a world of journalism. Sometimes you’re entering a world of storytelling. We hear the stories of like, “Serial, the real crime stories,” where they’re telling their viewpoint of these real crime stories and their investigations of them. Many of them are not trained in journalistic integrity in any way, shape or form, so we don’t know those rules.

My advice to podcasters would always be clear whether your storytelling is fictional or fact-based or whether it’s a meld. It’s based on a true story. We get this in book publishing all the time where somebody wants to publish a book and wants to change some of the character names. They want to fictionalize some things and that can get very tricky. We’ll go back to podcasting. I want to tell a true story but I want to protect some people, so I’m going to change some names. That’s fine. There’s no real risk there. Maybe I want to change some facts. By changing the facts, you could be doing exactly what you want to be doing, which is more protecting them and protecting yourself, or you could possibly be getting yourself into a situation where somebody then, as a result, thinks you’ve committed defamation because that’s not the way it happened.

In real life, what happened was this and you fictionalized it and said it was this. You said it was based on a true story, so now anybody listening to that podcast thinks you were talking about me. They know you’re talking about me and they think that it happened this way. That puts me in a bad or false light, therefore, I’m going to sue you for defamation. Anytime you’re dealing with a true story that’s sensitive, it might be any issues that people might be sensitive about, think that through. If you’re not sure, you might seek some legal advice before you widely distribute a true story that might get somebody bent out of shape enough to want to sue you.

It’s interesting because what I hear from a lot of podcasters is they love podcasting as an independent, not part of some big publisher like Gimlet that produces more fiction podcasts. A lot of podcasters like that they’re independent. It’s their show. They can say what they want. They believe it’s a safe haven of free speech. To an extent, I feel that it is in general because they’re not having to answer to an editorial board or something. As long as they’re confident that they are making statements that are truthful, they probably don’t have a lot to worry about, although it’s always this tricky thing. As you said, anybody can sue you for anything in the United States. You are putting yourself out there potentially at some risk. The reality is as long as you’re not repeating something you know isn’t true, you should be on pretty safe ground.

First of all, we haven’t talked much about opinion. Let’s also keep in mind that opinion is completely protected. You can never get sued for defamation for telling your opinion. Some people try to couch factual statements and opinions like, “I think he murdered his wife.” It’s supposed to be an opinion but that’s not an opinion. I’m accusing him of murdering his wife. “In my opinion, he murdered his wife,” is not much better than, “He murdered his wife.” If it’s truly an opinion like, “I don’t like the way he looks or she looks. I disagree with this,” that’s an opinion that’s completely First Amendment protected. If you stay in the realm of opinion or if you’re making factual statements, make correct and accurate factual statements.

I don’t want to scare you, Tom, but there is one little danger or trap that you could run into here and that is you may believe it’s true. You may be repeating or republishing something that somebody else told you and you believe it to be true. You can be found liable for defamation, even when you believed what you said was true if it was false, but it depends on who the subject is. It gets a little complicated but if I’m talking about a public figure and I’m wrong, but I wasn’t maliciously wrong. I thought what I was saying was true about a politician or somebody who’s well-known, then the standard is what you said. As long as I don’t know that I’m lying, that’s the standard.

If you’re dealing with a private individual who was not otherwise in the public light and they’re a regular, plain, old person, you can defame them on accident. It is enough for you to make a false statement about them even if you didn’t know it was false because you have a duty when it’s a private person to do your homework and due diligence, and make sure that what you’re saying is accurate. We give that private person a little bit more leeway on that because private people don’t put themselves out in the limelight. If you’re going to make statements about them, you have a higher burden to make sure you’re being correct.

You want to be very careful not to influence people to do things that are not in their best interest. Click To Tweet

Thank you for that. That is helpful. I’m curious about something. I’m going to make a hypothetical here but it’s one based on history. We have something we can look at and maybe form some understanding of. Let’s take the Flint Water Crisis that we all know a bit about, at least it made national news. Let’s say I was a resident of the community before it became national news. I was concerned. I had doubt and skepticism about the quality of the water in Flint, about my children and my family’s safety, and I wanted to shine a light on it. I decided I’m going to start a podcast and start interviewing people and asking questions. I’m trying to use the podcast to shine a light on this crisis. Where would some of the potential pitfalls be in doing that or could you share with us your feeling on if there’s a completely safe way to do that, to use a podcast to publish about this issue to shine a light on it or to try to get some attention on it?

First, I will say that under Defamation Law, we have something called a qualified privilege. It’s not a complete privilege, but you get more leeway when there is a good reason for what you’re doing. You’re calling out corruption in the government or a public health crisis. In your example, there would probably be a qualified privilege. I would say that. The other thing I would say is your example is difficult because we know historically that you were right. Because we know that you were right, it’s easy for me to say, “You did the right thing and you should be completely protected by the First Amendment.” If we try to change the scenario a little bit and it’s a new place where somebody has a concern about the water. The biggest danger that you have is being wrong. The biggest danger that you have is you’re trying to shine a light on a problem, and it turns out it’s not a problem at all, which is fine if you’re sticking to your opinion and to the facts that are accurate. If you start accusing people of things and you’re wrong about those accusations, that’s where you subject yourself to liability.

Maybe if you’re a podcaster and you stay in the place of observation, curiosity and asking questions, there might be an implication that there’s something to be concerned about it. It may shine a light on this, get more attention on it, and get people to take it seriously. If you stay out of a place of judgment yourself, it sounds like that would be a safer space to be in. Is that correct?

Yeah, that’s a safer space and when we’re talking about a public issue like that which is so important, part of it goes to what is your tolerance for risk. If you’ve got a high enough tolerance for risk, you can spill over into making some statements. You just want to have some decent background to support your statements because you’re going to have that qualified privilege. As long as your position is grounded in the facts, you should be okay.

That makes me think about the big questions that we had here, and part of the reason why I wanted to bring you forward is because we have a lot of podcasters in the health and wellness space. They’re finding a lot of censorship on social media of where their posts are getting removed and things are happening there. They are finding that they can continue to say what they need to say on their podcast. What responsibility do they have in providing advice in that area? Are health and wellness as dangerous as making comments about public health in general?

That’s definitely an area that you should proceed very cautiously. I don’t want to get too political here, but especially when we have governmental agencies that some would argue are in the pockets of big pharma. The argument being, “It does seem,” for instance, the Food and Drug Administration is more likely to sanction or bring some claim against somebody if what they’re doing might hurt a pharmaceutical company. They do seem to be unfortunately aligned and some would argue what I said is defamation but I’ll deal with it.

We’re talking opinions and examples here.

There’s the practical risk of maybe you haven’t violated any law at all and maybe what you’ve said is completely your opinion. It is supported by the evidence that you have. It is not harassing anybody. It may fall and check all the boxes of what Maria says you should or shouldn’t do, but that doesn’t mean that some big pharmaceutical company won’t get bent out of shape because you’re telling people to not take a particular medicine or something. You also have to look at the practicalities of, who am I going to get mad? How big is their pocket and how aggressive are they? It’s not always what is the law, sometimes it’s what’s the practicalities. Putting aside the practicalities in the health and wellness space, you do want to be very careful that you are not influencing people to do things that are not in their best interests.

FYB 106 | Podcast Cyberbullying

Podcast Cyberbullying: As long as your position is grounded in the facts, then you should be okay.

You put out a podcast and tell everybody that they should all stop taking all of their prescription medicine because prescription medicines are evil. Somebody stops taking their insulin for diabetes and they go into a diabetic coma and die. You’re likely to get sued for either negligence, malpractice or practicing medicine without a license. There are all kinds of harms that can come of that. I would say in the health and wellness space, you can do a whole lot of good, but you also want to be super careful, especially if you’re doing anything that’s not considered to be mainstream conventional medicine because mainstream conventional medicine owns things.

What kind of rules do we have on the take-down rules for having blogs and doing things like that? I know you know a lot about copyrights and all of that side law. Do we have an obligation if someone says, “This is not true. Take this down?”

I need to separate a blog from a podcast because under a blog, you have no obligation whatsoever even if you know it’s false. You’ve got something on the internet. It’s a website where people can post. We call it user-generated content. One of your users post something and then somebody else comes along and says, “That’s false and I can prove it’s false. Take it down.” It is your choice whether you want to take it down and you are not liable if you do not take it down because you were not responsible for the content, to begin with. You’re not the content provider. That is the current state of the law. There’s been some talk about Section 230 may be getting modified, but under the current state of the law, even if you know it’s false and somebody tells you it’s false, you do not have to take it down if you don’t want to. I’m not saying you shouldn’t. I’m saying you’re not liable for it.

How about if it’s your content?

If it’s your content, yes. By knowing that it’s false and if they give you evidence and you truly know it, you definitely increase your chances of liability by not taking down something that you stated that now you know is false. That would be a super dangerous thing to do. If you’re in the podcast world where you are responsible, at least in part for the content because you were the interviewer, I would be cautious if you later learn it’s not sure.

Let’s say as a podcaster, you do publish an episode and an audio show that has a statement in it that somebody takes issue with. They say, “That’s not true. I want you to take it down.” What is the exposure, and you may not be able to answer this, but I’m curious how much exposure a podcaster would have in terms of what’s the remedy? When I publish a podcast, let’s say I have a thousand subscribers to my podcast. Their app automatically downloaded that episode to their phone usually to listen to, so the cat’s out of the bag. It’s out there and has been downloaded. Even if I’m requested to take it down, I can. It’s no longer publicly available for somebody new to find and download and listen to, but a thousand people already got it on their device and it’s still there. I can’t remove it from it. How much trouble do I get in potentially?

Assuming that it’s a factual statement that’s harming somebody, let’s assume it is defamation. It’s more than just they say it’s false, but it falls into all the elements and categories of defamation. Your exposure depends on a lot of factors, but the one exposure that remains a constant is your own attorney’s fees. When you get sued and you’re a defendant in a lawsuit, we live in the United States where we follow what’s called the American rule, meaning each party pays their own attorney’s fees. It’s not the prevailing party that gets to recover their attorney’s fees. You could win that case and not feel like you won anything at all because you could spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees, defending the case only to win and you will not recover those fees.

The most consistent risk that you have is the risk of having to pay your own attorney’s fees for defending a lawsuit. From there, what are the risks? It completely depends on how much harm you caused. If I am a concert pianist and I earn $250,000 a year. You told everybody that I was a pedophile and nobody wants to hire me anymore and I’ve lost $250,000, that’s going to be your risk. If I can prove that you lied about me, that you put this out on the internet and as a result, I lost this income, you can be responsible for that income. On the other hand, you make a statement about somebody who maybe didn’t have a job or didn’t get harmed by it. They had some emotional distress but it’s hard to indicate what that is, your liability might not be more than just some judge telling you to take it down. You still have those attorney’s fees either way.

You get more leeway when there is a good reason for what you are doing. Click To Tweet

This brings to an interesting thing that’s been controversial from Spotify’s buy-out of Joe Rogan. Spotify has gone through and removed some of his older episodes and decided not to air them, decided to remove them from the catalog, and do some things like that. We’ve had to make some of those tough decisions. I’m not going to mention who it is, but we all know someone mutually who’s in trouble with the Feds. We had an interview with that person. We made the conscious decision to take that down and remove it from our catalog as well because whether or not they said anything specific about what’s going up against in court, we didn’t want that person’s recommendations in the world when their reputation is in such question to be out there.

That’s a choice we made from an editorial perspective, and Spotify is making some of those. I’m sure their lawyers are making some of those choices for them about what to remove. That’s okay to go ahead and look at that and not say. We can say whatever we want. Sometimes we also have to think about our audience and the responsibility we have to them to provide them with the best, most current information that we have right now even though we didn’t have it before.

The number one thing that you’re looking at is your business model. Does this make sense to my business model, my own terms and conditions, and my own policies? The legal issue is one little factor of that. You still have to do what you think is right and this is a platform for your speech. You may be willing to take more of a risk because it’s important to your free speech. Those are decisions business people make all the time.

We also hear some big things. Elon Musk goes on a podcast and the stocks tank so you have fiscal responsibilities as well that might upset your shareholders. That’s a whole other category.

That’s another episode.

Maria, we so appreciate you coming to the show and talking about these issues. You’re such an expert in digital law. Is there anything that you think we should be aware of that might be coming up or things that podcasters and podcasters who are also bloggers from a content provider perspective? You mentioned Section 230. It’s so vague what might happen there.

It’s like you said about the other issue, Tom. It’s probably a discussion for a whole other show. There are fascinating issues about the ownership of content in the podcast category.

We had an intellectual property attorney come on and talk about some of the legal issues. She came on The Binge Factor and had talked about some of those issues of reserving your rights early on if you’re an independent podcaster, so you can sell it to a studio later. I thought that was such an interesting perspective.

FYB 106 | Podcast Cyberbullying

Podcast Cyberbullying: Defamation is the umbrella term anytime you make a false statement about someone else that is negative and harms them.

You own your content when you’re doing everything, but when you’re doing everything that you do, for instance, all I’m doing is speaking. Because the law is unclear about the ownership of that, the recommended practice is that you have agreements with your guests that clarify that. Whatever you contractually agree to, it will be that way.

We have agreements as the editors, designers of the graphics and all those things. We have a for-hire agreement so that it’s clear for us because there are other apps and other things out there. You mentioned some of these apps where you can record within the apps. They state in their terms and conditions that they own your content and you can’t remove it from the platform and the app.

Some of them do or have in the past for sure. For our clients that we produce their content for them, we’re very clear that they own all the content. We don’t make any claim or take any right of ownership in that because we’re trying to support independent publishers. They’re content creators. There’s no reason for us to own any part of that. That’s a least how we prefer.

Even if they’re not clear about it, we’re trying to be clear about it for them. That’s such a good point. We definitely have to have you come back and we’ll talk about that, especially as some new things are coming up in that. When maybe something hits the news and things are changing, we’ll have you back on to talk to our group about that. Any other questions that you have?

No. I’m pleased with the discussion we had and I want to thank you for that. I like trying to bring better understanding to podcasters out there as to what reality is and some things that they can feel confident in and some things that they may want to be careful around. I appreciate you and thank you for coming on and sharing your perspective.

As always, we’re going to have all kinds of ways in which you can reach out to Maria and find her practice in Arizona. They’ve got quite the broad practice in digital law. You’ll definitely want to catch up and learn more about her. Maria, thank you so much for coming on. We appreciate your perspectives and have always appreciated your friendship over the years as well.

Me, too. Thanks for having me.

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About Atty. Maria Speth

FYB 106 | Podcast CyberbullyingMaria practices in the areas of intellectual property, internet law, and commercial litigation, representing clients throughout the United States. She focuses her practice on assisting businesses in protecting their trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, information technology, and other intellectual property through preventative measures to avoid disputes and through litigation when disputes arise.

An accomplished author, she has recently published Protect Your Photographs: A Legal Guide for Photographers, and Protect Your Writings: A Legal Guide for Authors. She has numerous articles and dozens of published court cases. Maria frequently speaks at seminars and workshops on intellectual property and internet law topics. She is a guest lecturer at Arizona State University and has appeared on radio and television providing legal commentary on intellectual property issues.

Maria is the past Chairperson of the Intellectual Property Section of the Arizona State Bar, and the past Chairperson of the Ecommerce & Technology Section of the Arizona State Bar. She is a member of the International Trademark Association. Maria is on the American Arbitration National Roster of Arbitrators and Mediators.