I'm playing around with the idea of transcribing some of my favourite podcasts and recorded talks, putting them up on a website and accepting donations from users to hopefully help support some of the costs.

What are the legal implications of doing this? Am I even allowed to publish the transcriptions without permission?

I'm in Aus but happy to hear US advice as most of the content I'm interested in is from there anyway.


Podcasts and recorded talks are protected by copyright, because they have already been put in fixed form. An extemporaneous radio text (e.g. from a dial-in talk show) does not have fixed form, until someone makes it permanent (audio-records it or writes the text down). A transcript of a podcast is a derivative work, and only the copyright owner can authorize creating a derivative work. So yes, permission is necessary.

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    Extemporaneous radio does not exist: all modern commercial radio is recorded then broadcast. The delay between the two may only be fractions of a second but that is enough to trigger copyright protection. – Dale M Aug 11 '17 at 1:07
  • @Dale M Doesn't that "copy in a tangible form" need to be sufficiently durable that someone could make an additional copy from it, i.e., "infringe"? How might one register the copyright of something that was only temporarily present in a 5-second delay loop? – Upnorth Aug 11 '17 at 4:14
  • @DaleM m, that simply isn't true: that are quite a number of extemporaneous live broadcast radio shows, not operating from a script (at least in the US: no claim is made about Australia). Whether or not every show happens to be also recorded is an empirical question, and even in those cases where it is recorded both in the studio and by a listener, no nanosecond priority of recording can be assigned to one recording versus the other. – user6726 Aug 11 '17 at 4:46
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    @user6726 Priority is not needed. US law specifically provides that when a program is recorded at the exact same time that it is transmitted, copyright protection applies. Only if there is no recording and no script would there be no protection. I don't know how often that occurs, but it could. See 17 USC 112 for "ephemeral recordings". – David Siegel Aug 25 '19 at 12:58
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    But if there is no script and no recording, then it would be hard to transcribe. I suppose if I want to transcribe a podcast and record it for that purpose and I'm the only one in the world creating a recording, the podcast would be copyright protected. – gnasher729 Aug 26 '19 at 13:11

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