Recording Book to use with school wide program

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  • My school will participate in a program next year where every family and staff member will read the same book over a month's time. I have seen a site by another school in which they provided a reading of their chosen book, chapter by chapter, as podcasts. I would like to do the same. This would be a great way to have the book read to those children who, for whatever reason, cannot have the book read to them at home by a parent. However, it seems that this would be a violation of copyright. I would like some clarification. Thank you.
  • Your instincts are right, in the sense that a public reading of a copyrighted book, with recordings of that reading distributed in unlimited fashion, could be violations of the copyright owner(s)' rights. In fact, the scenario you describe has the potential to violate several of the owner's rights: copying, modification/creating a derivative work, distribution and public performance.

    But that does not mean there are not legal ways to accomplish what you are trying to do, without having to gain the permission of the copyright owner. You can make some choices in the design of your program so it fits within one of the exemptions to the copyright owner's rights. Since you are working in a school environment, exemptions provided under Fair Use (Section 107 of Copyright Law) or Exemption of certain performances and displays (Section 110) might provide you a safe harbor to accomplish your purpose while remaining compliant with copyright law.

    Each exemption under copyright law has its own specifics about when and how to apply it. To learn more about either of these exemptions in copyright law, you might want to consult one of the popular (and well-written) Web resources such as the "Copyright and Fair Use" website maintained by Stanford at There are also several excellent written copyright guides for teachers which you may find at your library.

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