Live stream storytime from the public library

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  • Hi there! I work for a public library and am researching the possibility of live streaming storytime. We want to reach people who may not be able to come to storytime in the library because they are home with an illness or are visiting grandparents in another part of the state. As you can imagine, I'm grappling with the issue of copyright for books and music in this scenario. Traditionally, we read the entire story verbatim and show the pictures in the books. These storytimes take place within the library's walls with an audience of children and parents in the room. If we wanted to start streaming these storytimes live from the library, what would we have to adjust in order to meet copyright?

    Could we continue to read verbatim from the book and show the pages? Or would we need to adjust the telling and limit the pages shown? Would we have to obtain permission from each publisher for every title no matter how much or little we read/showed of the book since it is now being streamed outside the walls of the library and would be considered a public performance of the work?




  • Great question!  This is something that I know many libraries already do. My opinion (not legal opinion) is that doing storytime online is a fair use, that entire books can be read, and any or all images shown without authorization.  My only caveat would be to make the storytime only available to your registered users. In this way, the entire world cannot listen to the stories. You are providing services to your community only. 

    Fair use analysis

    Purpose of the use - there is no profit motive. Literacy is a socially beneficial thing. 

    Nature of the publication - probably very creative but this factor does not matter too much because storytime involves reading creative stories with lots of pictures

    Amount - also not important because you must read the entire book to tell the story

    Effect on the market - positive, more people will be exposed to the book and may choose to buy their own copy.  I do not think that the library reading a book to a child would negate the possibility of a parent reading the same title to their children who will enjoy it more coming from mom or dad.

    Bottom line - this does not replace sales. It is good thing.

    I feel confident that this is not a problem.

    Others may want to chime in.





  • We are in Colorado and the state has a reciprocal agreement among the majority of public libraries in the state. This agreement allows for anyone living in Colorado to get a library card with our system, free of charge, even if they reside outside our county of service. In order to meet fair use, would we have to limit access to those registered users who reside within our county; or would any registered user with one of our library cards be able to access the streamed version? 

    Thank you for the quick response. This is very hopeful.

  • I don't think that makes a difference - as long as they are card holders.

  • I am also looking for sources and opinions on this subject. I want to start adding storytime online to my library's web presence. I am planning to post the videos to the library's facebook group page. This is a closed group for people who have to request permission to join. What are your thoughts regarding this?

  • I am considering posting storytime online for my patrons as well. The videos would be posted to our library's facebook group which is a closed group. Members must ask permission to join. What are your thoughts on this topic?

  • I think a closed facebook group could also be considered a 'community' as Carrie pointed out in her earlier reply, so this would also fall under a fair use. 

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