By Esther Garfin

This is intended as general information, not legal advice, and does not establish a lawyer-client relationship. It is not a substitute for independent legal advice. Please consult a lawyer to address any specific legal issues.

To my fellow podcast creators and producers,

I’m the founder of Alternative Food Network (AFN) and producer of the AFN podcasts. I also have a professional background as an entertainment lawyer. I normally don’t write opinion pieces but I recently attended a podcast festival where I heard a podcast producer on a panel suggest to the audience that if you’re starting out as a podcaster and don’t have money to “legal up”, just borrow a Guest Release from a podcaster friend. That made me cringe.

I appreciate that obtaining legal services when you’re just starting out as a podcaster seems perhaps daunting and too costly of an undertaking. But, not having the appropriate legal documents from the beginning may very well lead to legal woes ahead. Every circumstance is different and “your friend’s” Release may not be appropriate for your situation. So, to help steer you in the right direction when it comes to Guest Releases for audio productions, I have answered some common questions in this blog. This isn’t legal advice from me to you. It’s just a suggestion for good business practices.

What is a Podcast Guest Release?

This Release is used by producers of podcasts to get permission from their guest to record and publish the guest’s voice in sound recordings in the producer’s production and wherever that production may be used and distributed.

Why should a Guest Release be used?

It protects both the producer and the guest. It grants certain rights to the producer which the producer requires in order to record and publish the podcast. It also provides clarity to the guest on how the recording will be used.

Having a signed Guest Release can avoid future headaches and legal troubles including:

  • a guest deciding they don’t like the podcast or the sound of their voice and asking you to remove the podcast;
  • a guest demanding that the podcast be edited in a certain way; or
  • a guest demanding payment when there was no agreement to pay.

What if the guest doesn’t sign the Release?

In my experience, this is a rare case. However, if it does happen, I say short term pain brings long term gain. In other words, if a mutually agreeable Release cannot be negotiated and signed, scrapping the guest may be the best decision as it can avoid a lot of wasted time, money and energy when things get heated down the road.

While a proper Guest Release isn’t the only document for the podcaster legal toolkit, at least it’s a start.

Esther Garfin is Alternative Food Network’s Founder and President. She is a podcast producer and also practiced entertainment law for 15+ years in Toronto, Canada.