Why CBC/Radio-Canada has terms of use for its RSS feeds

November 9, 2016

A number of articles have been published questioning CBC/Radio-Canada's licensing practices and our podcasts' RSS feeds. We’d like to correct the record.

We've offered digital audio for download since 1993 – long before podcast feeds were invented. Today, we partner with a number of podcast providers, and we’re proud to do so.

Providing RSS feeds doesn't mean that CBC/Radio-Canada gives a blanket permission for other apps or aggregators to distribute our podcasts, without condition.

Here are relevant excerpts from our publicly available terms of use:

“May I use CBC/Radio-Canada content? No, unless otherwise authorized.” And, “Do these terms of use apply to news feeds (RSS)? Yes. These terms also apply to the use of CBC/Radio-Canada news feeds. Any use other than for private purposes must be subject to an agreement specifying the conditions for use with due regard for the integrity of the content. You agree not to frame the news feed or its content, nor to use similar means to generate unauthorized benefits.”

So why do we want to work with third-party podcast apps or aggregators to agree on conditions for distribution of our podcasts?

  • CBC/Radio-Canada relies on advertising revenue; we try to monetize our podcasts. Apps that sell premium accounts, or use in-stream or banner advertising for example, are earning revenue through the content they offer. As a general principle, we think it’s fair for podcast creators to be compensated in some way for the content they create.

  • But, it's not just about the money. When someone offers our content to their audience without any relationship to us, we have no idea what they're doing with our content. Are they copying our content to their servers and serving cached versions? What's their business model? Do our analytics capture their traffic? Is there a competitive conflict between our ads and the ads being displayed on their apps?

Not having the answers to these questions affects our own advertising model, and the analytics that help us understand who our audience is. Our brand can take a hit too if aggregators are associating our content with something that we're not comfortable with, such as recently, when our content was placed next to ads for pornography. We also have agreements we need to uphold – commercial music for example, and so need to know that any third-party use of our content honours those agreements.

Even when we agree that we don't need to have a revenue share, we must at least be able to understand whatever business practices these third parties have and mutually agree on distribution of our content.

We welcome these conversations. We run pilots and experiments with podcast apps and services all the time, finding common ground in our goals, strategies and values. If some services don't want to collaborate with us, we politely, but firmly ask that they remove our content. We want our podcasts to be heard by as many people as possible, but it is within our right to define appropriate or inappropriate use.

Jean Mongeau
General manager and chief revenue officer
CBC/Radio-Canada

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