Podcasts, children's literature, & schools

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  • Hi,
    I'm a school librarian.
    Here's the situation:
    I want to read a book outloud and podcast it--to supplement my students' summer reading.
    [It its the 4th grade assigned summer reading. Some students will have difficulty reading it themselves. I thought it would be helpful to have an audio version for them to listen to/read along with.]
    The school library owns the book.
    There is no AudioBook available for the title.

    I would read the whole book--and post it on our library's blog, as a podcast.

    I'm trying to figure out if there's any way this could be fair use.

    I've gone over the 4 point test--(your worksheet is great, by the way.)--It seems like this (a podcast of my reading the whole book) wouldn't be protected under fair use.
    But am I missing anything?
    Is there any way it might be?

    Would it be any different if one or two chapters were posted at a time, and then removed after a limited time?

    How reading a book outloud online, as a librarian, different from reading a book in storytime under a library roof? [potential audience size, I suppose & degree of access--but tell me more, please.]
  • Could it be argued that this is fair use? Yes.
    Should it be? Let's save that for later.

    1. Educational. For.
    2. I'm assuming creative. Against.
    3. 100%. Against.

    Does 1 trump 2+3? In this situation, I think that's a tough sell.

    So, 4 is the key.

    Let's assume the audience is limited to the intended audience.

    How are these kids going to read the book? Are they going to sequentially check it out from the library? Are they expected to buy it?

    Best case scenario. All the kids buy the book. They can't buy the audio that doesn't exist. They aren't going to buy the print book twice. In this case, there can't possibly be any market effect. In this case, I think 1+4 edges out 2+3. You could also argue that 4 is the critical factor and trumps 2+3 on its own; some people will readily accept that argument, but some won't.

    Worst case scenario. No kids buy the book. You could make the same argument as above, but it's a tougher sell. You would have to be able to convincingly argue that enough library copies (including other local library copies) are available to meet the demand. Easy to prove if true, but I suspect it isn't true. You could keep records of all the students who check out the book (hopefully 100%). You could also do a statistical analysis to show that supply is greater than demand. You could also figure out how many copies would be needed to meet demand and buy enough copies to cover that demand.

    What about unintended listeners? Some people will say, "It's on the internet, anyway can access it." I don't think that's a good argument. I can bury a gold brick in my backyard. Anyone can dig it up, but who's going to go looking for gold bricks in my backyard? Ask yourself this: can a student from another school who must read this book find your podcast? If not, then it isn't reasonable to assume that any market effect exists beyond your school.

    So, should you use this argument?
    1. Do you find the argument compelling? If so, is it a slam dunk or slightly better than a coin flip? I wouldn't claim fair use if it's just a coin flip.
    2. How strong is your market effect argument? I'd want my argument to be as strong as possible before I'd claim fair use.

    I think it's probably better to split up the chapters, but I don't think doing so really affects the fair use argument.

    How is this different from storytime? Limited audience. Stronger market effect argument. Kids aren't going to storytime to avoid buying a book.

    Hope that helps.

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