I just finished a conversation by email about how to ensure that an organization’s podcast would remain ‘podsafe’, though I didn’t use the term (if there even is one in French). For those Googling for a good resource, I figured I would add my voice to the choir with the following tips, good for anyone who wants to put music in their podcast. Caveat: I am not a lawyer (in fact, I think I might hate lawyers), so this is just general advice.
Never use songs from RIAA albums. Ever.
Try RIAA Radar to see if an album was published by an RIAA label. If it was, use something else. Besides, Radiohead doesn’t need the airplay.
What this means: Email or call the label or artist, or use a resource that has done the contacting for you. See below.
Use a good resource for getting permission.
Myspace works wonders for this; for some reason, artists that refuse to answer their email are neurotic about answering Myspace messages. They totally want to have Myspace’s babies.
Also, the Podsafe Music Network is an excellent resource that collects a bunch of songs from artists who have all agreed beforehand to make their tracks available for podcasts. Using the PMN, the time involved shifts from ask/response (which is done for you) to the time it takes to search for good music. The rating and categorization systems help. (Disclosure: I currently have a podcasting contract with Podshow, makers of the PMN. Love you guys.)
Use Creative Commons tracks.
Creative Commons is a license which some musicians use to facilitate the distribution of their music through the web.
What this means for you: CC music is freely and legally obtainable on the web, and can usually be podcasted with no problems. A few musicians use alternative CC licenses (there are quite a few of them) with different rules to the well known and commonly chosen ones. RTFM, YMMV.
Note: This document will change over time. I just wanted to get it up here. Feel free to comment/correct/criticize/suggest.