story programs on local cable access

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  • Please help a public library director. The local cable access director wants to either tape and use the preschool story program as a cable show (run repeatedly over the coarse of time), or have the librarian read a picture book-a-day (5 per week), broadcasting the image of the pages with a voice-over by the librarian.

    I told him we would need to get specific copyright permission for the use of the picture books in the broadcasts (assuming that finger-plays and nursery rhymes in the more traditional storytime don't pose a problem). He couldn't see why since we use the books in the library program and the broadcast would be on the public access channel. I still think there is a problem, but I can't figure out the exact issues. And the more I think about it, the more I start to worry about our general use of the books, even our traditional programs. Can any of you point me in the right direction?
  • Broadcasting might pose a copyright problem, public access or not. You can argue fair use, but at that point it would appear that you're no longer just acting as a library and so the normal library exemptions might not apply to that use. You might want to look at Reading Rainbow or other public television programs that do similar things.

    I'm pretty sure that noone is going to sue over your in-library story times for children. That wouldn't go over well at all, and there are definitely fair use arguments for that public performance.
  • I'm in a similar situation. I'm being asked to perform a storytime specifically for broadcast on local-access cable. I do not want to do anything illegal. Do we need permission for each book and each song we use?
  • I believe the on air program would definitely fall under the perform the work publicly right of the copyright owner. Kenneth Crews call a performance public when "it is made to a substantial number of persons beyond the usual circle of friends, family and social acquaintances." I don't see that the fact that it is PBS will make a difference, but their legal counsel would deal with this often. Section 110 deals with this issue if you want to see the law.

    I agree with cjovalle that the library storytime probably falls under fair use.

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