At stake is the "webcasting provision" of the "Broadcasters' Treaty" underway at WIPO, the UN agency that handles copyrights, patents and the like. The Webcasting provision would make it illegal to retransmit Creative Commons licensed works (as well as public domain works, uncopyrightable works like those made by the US government, etc) without permission of the person who hosts them. In other words, it will no longer be enough to know that the author of the work wants you to share it -- you'll also need permission from the company that hosts and distributes the files.
The treaty wil eliminate fair use for all Internet audio/video casts, by creating a different set of rules for what's fair and what isn't when it comes to casters than when it comes to copyright holders. You'll have to negotiate two separate, contradictory "fair use" systems whenever it comes time to making a podcast.
At the UN, the US consistently argues that this is a popular idea. They've been put up to advancing it by an org called DIMA that's a front for Microsoft and Yahoo, who like the idea of being Internet audio/video gatekeepers.
I've delivered a letter to the UN signed by 20 tech companies that oppose the inclusion of webcasting in the Broadcast Treaty. The copies of the letter were stolen from the literature table and put in the trashcans in the toilets. Repeatedly.
I questioned Mary-Beth Peters, the US Register of Copyrights, about the Webcasting treaty during the Q&A after her panel at a conference at UNC last November. To everyone's surprise, she admitted that the US's position that this is a fundamentally popular idea was a lie:
[7:20]...I think the most controversial piece is the scope of the right that's being created. The position that the US took is well, if you're going to give that type of a right to a broadcaster -- theft of a signal -- then you should look at all people who are similarily situated, including webcasters. Now, that has been totally rejected by the rest of the world."MP4 Link, AVI Link, MPG Link
Credit: The University of North Carolina and UNC-TV for the video capture and TJ Ward for digizing it.
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.