CBC threatens podcast app makers, argues that RSS readers violate copyright

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation publishes several excellent podcasts, notably the As It Happens feed; like every podcast in the world, these podcasts are available via any podcast app in the same way that all web pages can be fetched with all web browsers -- this being the entire point of podcasts.



In a move of breathtaking, lawless ignorance, the CBC has begun to send legal threats to podcast app-makers, arguing that making an app that pulls down public RSS feeds is a "commercial use" and a violation of the public broadcaster's copyrights.

This is a revival of an old, dark era in the web's history, when linking policies prevailed, through which publishes argued that they had the right to control who could make a link to their sites -- that is, who could state the public, true fact that "a page exists at this address."

But the CBC is going one worse here: their argument is that making a tool that allows someone to load a public URL without permission is violating copyright law -- it's the same thing as saying, "Because Google is a for-profit corporation, any time a Chrome user loads a CBC page in the Chrome browser without the CBC's permission, Google is violating CBC's copyright."

It is an absolutely insane idea, and as legally ignorant as one can imagine. It's shocking that a letter of such dangerous stupidity was sent on CBC letterhead, signed by someone who apparently got a law degree at some point. If the CBC is right, then all browsers are presumptively unlawful.


There is an implied license when you put something on the web that it is there to link to. If you don't want people to load your RSS feed, don't publish it, or add a password to it. To argue otherwise is to argue against the internet itself.

I am contacting you regarding the unauthorized use of CBC's podcasts that are being used in your [app name] app.

By using CBC's digital services you have agreed to our our Terms of Use located at cbc.ca/aboutcbc/discover/termsofuse.html.


Under section 2(b) of these Terms of Use, you are prohibited from using our podcasts for commercial purposes without a proper licence from CBC.


I would ask to cease immediately the use of our unlicensed podcasts.

If you interested in CBC content and podcast, we can discuss a license fee model.

I would be happy to have a call to discuss further our content and services.

CBC are blocking podcast apps [Dredmorbius/Reddit]