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Media Law Q & A

trainee_jakesCMTO Trainer Bronwen Loden recently fielded some tough questions from her trainees on Media Law, check out our Q & A on copyright, defamation and sponsorship ;


I had a question about who owns the copyright for programs produced at the radio station and what control they have over other people using them.

The question related to announcers providing copies of interviews to performers/artists interviewed live on air who in turn use those recording on their website.

The station's official stance is that the station owns the copyright of all broadcast programs (except obviously for music played etc) and they are happy for others to re-publish that content so long as it's not for a commercial gain.

Is that correct that the station owns the copyright for all broadcast (except music and other content)?

Does the announcer own any copyright or is it shared?

I assumed the station would because that's usually the case when you work for somebody.


The station DOES own the copyright on the broadcast (ie the ACTUAL audio that went to air), and as long as the artist gets permission from the station to put it on their website they can.

However the copyright of the original recording is owned by the person who made it (eg the announcer) unless the station has some agreement with their volunteers that outlines that all copyright remains with the station on anything produced at the station.

Which is actually a really good idea for them to outline in any volunteer agreement.

See the Australian Copyright Council's handout on ownership, 'Does an organisation own copyright in material created by volunteers?' here.


Also do you have any idea what would constitute 'financial gain'?

The station supervisor thought a band using the interview would constitute finacial gain as it adds to their marketing efforts and their revenue in turn but by that logic doing the interview on air would also be for financial gain.


In terms of interviews going to air, they are classed as 'community information' and NOT sponsorship or advertising, as long as they fall within the confines of the sponsorship guidelines on 'community information' ie, they don't mention specific information about a gig, event, cd sales etc.

Financial gain would have to be outlined by the station in any copyright use agreement they created for work that is on-sold or they give permission for use.

So for instance you can use the definition of non-commercial as outlined by Creative Commons here.

But in reality it would only be financial gain if they DIRECTLY sold that recording, ie, made people pay to download it from their website or put it on one of their albums.


If you were to write a letter to another party about a person and said something in that letter that could be defamatory (eg accuse them of a crime) and if that letter is accidentally published (broadcast, leaked, emailed) can you still get in trouble for defamation even though you never intended the letter to go to a wider audience?


Yes, if the item is published in anyway you the original writer AND the broadcaster/publisher can face defamation action.

This is really clearly outlined in the definition of 'third party' given by The News Manual.

NB: This information is of a general nature and is given in CMTO's capacity
as a community training organisation.  It should not be relied on as
legal advice.