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YouTube’s non-solution for AI podcasts

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This is Hot PodThe Verge’s newsletter about podcasting and the audio industry. Sign up here for more.

Today we have a look at how YouTube’s new AI rules will (and will not) affect podcasting, another late-night host ditching TV for audio, and a bunch of your recs on podcasts covering the Israel-Hamas war.

What do YouTube’s new AI rules mean for podcasts? Not much.

This morning, YouTube released new terms regarding AI-generated content on its platform. As my Verge colleagues Mia Sato and Nilay Patel reported, the company is creating a two-tier system in the way it moderates such content: a strict set of rules for music and a looser, nearly unenforceable standard for everything else (including podcasts). For creators who make podcasts using AI and people who may discover an AI-generated clone of their voice on the internet, there are very slight new rules to which to adhere.

First, podcasts that use “realistic” AI-generated (or altered) content have to label their videos as such. That is something that is already happening with some of the bigger podcasts that use AI, like with The Joe Rogan AI Experience, but it’s generally good practice, so no harm in requiring people to do it. Even with the labeling, though, people can request YouTube take down videos that “simulate an identifiable individual, including their face or voice.” It is then up to YouTube’s discretion, based on factors such as whether the content counts as satire or if the person being replicated is a public figure. Music, meanwhile, has no such exceptions because YouTube needs to keep the labels happy (if you can believe it, the podcast lobby is somewhat less influential).

These guidelines, which will roll out next year, are being issued in the absence of any real legal framework for dealing with AI-generated content. While it does seem like an attempt by YouTube to do something, its effectiveness is necessarily limited — and the lack of clarity could lead to some confusing and inconsistent enforcement decisions.

“It doesn’t have the weight of law, and it doesn’t have the advantage of being done out in the open,” says attorney Emily Poler, who handles copyright infringement cases. “There are going to be situations where it’s really hard [for YouTube] to make a principled decision, and those [decisions] will be entrusted to some reasonably low level employee at YouTube. I don’t think that that’s a recipe for success.”

Moderation was already a mess for these platforms before AI got involved, and each one is taking a different approach. While Spotify is quite permissive (and even encouraging!) of AI spoken-word content, Audible has a blanket rule against AI-narrated audiobooks. YouTube seems to be attempting some middle ground. I’ll be curious to see how it plays out when the new AI rules are in place. As always, if you see anything weird, hit me up.

Another former late-night host turns to podcasting

Last year at Hot Pod Summit LA, we held a panel with Team Coco based on the premise that as late-night shows lose relevance, their hosts will (much like Conan O’Brien) turn instead to podcasts. Since then, Trevor Noah left The Daily Show and cut a deal with Spotify, and James Corden left The Late Late Show and will soon launch a show with SiriusXM. Now another former late-night host has a podcast deal: Daniel Tosh.

Tosh Show from iHeartMedia is refreshingly not a celebrity interview show, which makes sense! Tosh.0 was a hit in its day for being the opposite of standard late-night fare, tapping into lowbrow YouTube culture instead of featuring fluffy interviews with the rich and famous. If you are too young to remember or too old to care, it was a big deal circa 2009-2012. (Sidebar, I was truly shocked to learn that Tosh.0 did not end until 2020). Since dumb internet videos don’t exactly translate to podcasting, Tosh’s first interview is with his wife’s gynecologist. Respect!

Who from late night will be next? My money is on Jon Stewart, whose Apple TV Plus show was canceled last month. The podcast always outperformed the show, and it would be a relatively easy lift to continue without Apple’s support. 

Your Israeli-Palestinian conflict podcast recs

You gotta love how the Hot Pod audience is always armed with recs. After my open call for suggestions, a number of you reached out with shows that approach this extremely complicated conflict with nuance. I have had a chance to listen to a few of them and return to some I haven’t tuned into in a while. Check it out:

  • The Ezra Klein Show, per Think Again host Jason Gots (and staffers at Vox, and various members of my family). It’s a go-to pick for a reason: Klein has dedicated several episodes of his show to exploring the conflict from different perspectives, including one standout episode in which he talks to pollster Amaney Jamal, who ran a public opinion survey in Gaza in the week leading up to the attack. Spoiler: Gazans aren’t big on Hamas.
  • Israel Story, as recommended by Podglomerate CEO Jeff Umbro. You might remember Israel Story — which is basically the Israeli This American Life — when it was featured on Radiolab in 2015. In the weeks since the war began, Israel Story has published two dozen accounts from Israelis about how the conflict has touched their lives. 
  • On the Nose and Unsettled are recommended by audio producer Sam J. Leeds. On the Nose is from progressive outlet Jewish Currents and has been covering anti-war activism on the left in Israel and the US. Unsettled — which is sponsored by the Institute for Nonprofit News and was started by activists involved in IfNotNow — regularly features accounts from Palestinians and published an episode last week about the escalating violence in the West Bank since the war started.
  • Unholy: Two Jews on the News, per Sandra Shmueli, development editor at The Economist. It is hosted by Keshet 12 news anchor Yonit Levi and The Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland. So far, this is my favorite of the bunch — I particularly enjoyed its most recent episode with Kara Swisher on how discourse about the war is playing out on TikTok.

Keep the recs coming! Especially if you know of any great pods produced from a Palestinian perspective.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back next week with the latest audio news.



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