Scottsboro, AL asked in Copyright and Business Law for Alabama

Q: Is it illegal to post links to audio recorded books on YouTube for my educational resources website?

I'm launching a membership and stand alone sales program covering copyrighted novels, The Hobbit, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, etc. where I develop and sell learning workbooks to complement learning using the novels.

I will sell membership plans for the resources I create.

Is it illegal for me to post on my website other online website or videos, which I did not create, such as audio for the novels?

Is it illegal for me to record the audio of me reading the chapters of the novels and have it available for my subscribed members?

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1 Lawyer Answer
John B. Hudak
John B. Hudak
  • Intellectual Property Lawyer
  • Milford, CT

A: Under copyright law 17 USC 106, the owner of a copyrighted work has the exclusive right to copy, prepare derivative works, distribute copies, publicly perform, publicly display – of their copyrighted work.

A derivative work is a work made from another work – with other descriptions of this including: the derivative work was based on the original work; the derivative work was an adaptation of the original work; or the derivative work is a new edition of the original work. An example of a derivative work is a sculpture based on a drawing.

If a person copies another's work, or uses another's work for their derivative work, there is a defense to using the original work and claiming there was no copyright infringement – which is fair use. Fair use allows the use of another’s copyrighted work for “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research.” There are four factors which determine if fair use is a valid defense under the circumstances. The fair use analysis is: in depth; can vary slightly from different circuit courts; and has a specialized viewpoint compared to how a layperson may view certain terms. So use caution when quickly coming to a conclusion if you are doing your own fair use analysis.

Also, there exists contributory infringement. This is the idea that if a first person causes, induces, or encourages a second person to commit copyright infringement – that first person is liable for the second person’s actual copyright infringement.

Take the above into consideration. Also consider consulting with a copyright attorney to review all the facts – so you will be able to get the most out of your business venture.

This answer includes generalizations and there are many caveats. This answer does not form an attorney client relationship.

Ana Maria Del Valle-Aguilera agrees with this answer

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