recording books to cd

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  • Can a school record books onto CD from its library for student listening? Parents would record the text. There would be only one copy made of the item. The use would be educational only. Does the length of the work figure in to what is allowed; a 24 page children’s book as opposed to a 100 page work? Would it be allowed if there are no pre-existing recordings of the work on the market?
  • The length of the work has no effect on the reasoning here--you are still using the entire thing. I don't see how under normal circumstances this can be considered fair use. Even if there is no existing audiobook of the work, the owner still has the right to decide if he wants the work available in that format. The only fair use factor that counts for you is educational use. Effect on the market could be represented as probably negative since, even though you are not selling your cds, you are making and distributing unauthorized copies of the book.
  • I agree that length is not a factor here, but do think that there are some circumstances where this might be legal. In any case, I don't think that this would be allowed if the book were available for purchase as an audiobook, so I would recommend looking for a copy to purchase before even considering doing this. However, if you've looked and cannot find an audiobook, then I would recommend doing a fair use analysis. The Fair Use Checklist linked from our home page is handy for doing this. My analysis, based on the information you've provided and some assumptions:

    1. Purpose: It sounds like this would definitely be educational and transformative, which is good. This would be even stronger if the audiobooks were used for teaching (not just for entertainment) and/or if access were limited.

    2. Nature: I assume that this would be mostly storybooks, which argues against fair use (fiction, highly creative), but that it might be for a favored educational objective (if, for example, the students might listen AND read the book to improve their reading skills).

    3. Amount: You're talking about using the whole thing, so this would argue against fair use.

    4. Effect: If there is no audiobook of the title available and you were willing to purchase one if it became available, I don't see any effect on the market. Also, I'm assuming you own at least one copy of the book(s) in paper AND that you'd only be making one audio copy.

    It seems to me that the only factor arguing against fair use is the third, and that the first and fourth are pretty strongly in favor of fair use. However, it is important to remember that fair use is a judgement call. Whenever you do a fair use analysis, you probably also want to consider the litigiousness of the copyright holder and how risk averse you and your school are.

    If the TEACH Act might apply as well, I'll let someone else handle that part!
  • I don't think the TEACH Act would apply here -- unless what you are recording them for is to play them back in class. Then you should be able to do it as a classroom performance, which is an allowed use, but you couldn't check them out or put them on reserve in the library or anything like that. The TEACH Act would apply if you are also broadcasting the class to a distance student.

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