Difference between revisions of "Copyright and Public Domain"

From Librivox wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
m (Determining Copyright Status in the United States)
m (Protected "Copyright and Public Domain" ([Edit=Allow only administrators] (indefinite) [Move=Allow only administrators] (indefinite)))
 
(27 intermediate revisions by 9 users not shown)
Line 1: Line 1:
'''RuthieG working on this page'''
 
  
== Public Domain & LibriVox ==
+
= All LibriVox Recordings are in the Public Domain =
  
Copyright gives an individual or corporation exclusive rights on a text for a limited period of time. This means that no one else can reproduce the text or make derivative works (such as audio recordings) while the copyright is in force. Eventually, though, copyright expires, and the text enters the "public domain". This means that anyone can use the text however they wish.
+
'''Copyright''' is a legal concept that grants the creator of an original work (e.g., the author or translator of a book) exclusive rights to its use and distribution, usually for a limited time. This means that no one else can reproduce the text or make derivative works (such as audio recordings) while the copyright is in force.  
  
LibriVox takes texts already in the public domain, asks volunteers to make audio recordings of that text, and then releases the resulting audio back into the public domain.  
+
Works in the '''public domain''' are those whose copyrights have expired, have been forfeited, or are inapplicable.  Once a work enters the public domain, it may be freely used or exploited by anyone.
  
'''This means that if you volunteer to record for LibriVox, you are agreeing to release the audio files you make into the public  domain. This means that anyone can use those audio files however they wish.'''  
+
LibriVox takes a text that is already in the public domain, asks volunteers to make audio recordings of that text, and then releases the resulting audio back into the public domain.
 +
 
 +
{| style="width:95%; margin:0 auto; background:#FFFACD; border:1px solid orange; text-align:left;"
 +
| '''This means that if you volunteer to record for LibriVox, you are agreeing to release the audio files you make into the public  domain. This means that anyone can use those audio files however they wish.'''  
 +
 
 +
|}
  
 
In addition, book summaries, CD cover art, and any other material that goes into our catalog with the audio recordings are in the public domain.
 
In addition, book summaries, CD cover art, and any other material that goes into our catalog with the audio recordings are in the public domain.
  
For an explanation of why we use Public Domain (and not, for instance, Creative Commons) see: [http://librivox.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=226651#226651 here].
+
== However They Wish? ==
  
=== However They Wish? ===
+
What does "however they wish" mean, exactly? People may use our recordings to profit; they may remix them into other projects; they do not need to give credit to the individual reader/writer/creator or to !LibriVox. Anyone may do all kinds of things with LibriVox recordings. Some we might "approve of," and other things we might prefer them not do - but Public Domain means that just about anyone can do what they like with the recordings. Here are some things that we know people have done with LibriVox recordings:
  
What does "however they wish" mean, exactly? People may use our recordings to profit; they may remix them into other projects; they do not need to give credit to the individual reader/writer/creator or to !LibriVox. Anyone may do all kinds of things with LibriVox recordings. Some we might "approve of," and other things we might prefer them not do - but Public Domain means that just about anyone can do what they like with the recordings. Here are some things that we know people have done with LibriVox recordings:
 
 
* used the LibriVox recordings in YouTube videos
 
* used the LibriVox recordings in YouTube videos
 
* remixed LibriVox recordings into music, and sold the recordings
 
* remixed LibriVox recordings into music, and sold the recordings
Line 33: Line 36:
 
Although these examples are far-fetched, they are all acceptable uses of public domain materials. So be aware of what you are doing when you free your recordings, text and images into the public domain. You really have to let go!
 
Although these examples are far-fetched, they are all acceptable uses of public domain materials. So be aware of what you are doing when you free your recordings, text and images into the public domain. You really have to let go!
  
LibriVox primarily uses etexts already added to [http://www.gutenberg.org Project Gutenberg]. However, other works may be recorded for LibriVox if appropriate documentation of the item's copyright status can be shown.
+
= Librivox Source Materials and Public Domain =
 
 
----
 
 
 
== Determining Copyright Status in the United States ==
 
 
 
Follow these steps to determine if a work is in the Public Domain in the United States and can be recorded for LibriVox:
 
 
 
1. '''Is this a published work?'''
 
*If Yes: Continue to next step.
 
*If No: We're sorry, but we cannot include your recording at this time. LibriVox is currently only accepting recordings of published works.
 
 
 
2. '''Has the copyright status already been cleared by Project Gutenberg?'''
 
*Check here: [http://www.dprice48.freeserve.co.uk/GutIP.html David's In-Progress List (by author's last name)]
 
*If Yes: Start recording!
 
*If No: Continue to next step.
 
 
 
3. '''In what year was the work originally published?'''
 
*Check here: [http://worldcat.org WorldCat] or [http://catalog.loc.gov/ Library of Congress Online Catalog]
 
*If 1922 or earlier: Start recording!
 
*If 1923 or later: Continue to next step.
 
 
 
4. '''Was the work originally published in 1977 or earlier?'''
 
*If No: We're sorry, but we cannot include your recording in LibriVox at this time.
 
*If Yes: Continue to next step.
 
 
 
5. '''Was the work originally published in 1949 or earlier?'''
 
*If Yes: Continue to next step.
 
*If No: Please see the [http://www.sunsteinlaw.com/practices/copyright-portfolio-development/flowchart.htm Flow Chart for Determining Copyright Status] for more details.
 
 
 
6. '''Was the copyright renewed in the 28th year following the publication of the original?'''
 
*Check the copyright renewal records of years X+26, X+27, years X+28, and years X+29 (X=Original Pub. Date) here: [http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/cce/ Catalog of Copyright Entries]
 
*If Yes: We're sorry, but we cannot include your recording at this time... but we might be able to 95 years after the original publication date (somewhere between 2018 & 2044).
 
*If No: Start recording!
 
 
 
More detailed information about copyright rules in the US and elsewhere can be found [[Information about copyright rules|here]].
 
 
 
Online Resources used in this section:
 
 
 
[http://www.sunsteinlaw.com/practices/copyright-portfolio-development/flowchart.htm Flow Chart for Determining Copyright Status]
 
 
 
[http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm Another Flow Chart]
 
 
 
 
 
[http://portal.mlcnet.org/cms/sitem.cfm/library_tools/copyright_/copyrightdigitize/ Copyright and Digitization - Michigan Library Consortium]
 
 
 
[http://www.dprice48.freeserve.co.uk/GutIP.html David's In-Progress List (by author's last name)] (Please note: Books released by Project Gutenberg Australia have an A after their release number and are not usually public domain under US copyright law.)
 
 
 
[http://worldcat.org/ OCLC's WorldCat]
 
 
 
[http://catalog.loc.gov/ Library of Congress Online Catalog]
 
 
 
[http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/renewals.html FAQ: How To Find Out Whether A Copyright Was Renewed]
 
 
 
[http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/cce/ Catalog of Copyright Entries]
 
 
 
[http://www.copyright.cornell.edu/training/Hirtle_Public_Domain.htm Cornell Copyright Information Center]
 
 
 
[http://collections.stanford.edu/copyrightrenewals/bin/page?forward=home Stanford University's Copyright Renewal Database]
 
 
 
----
 
 
 
== Submitting a Copyright Clearance Request to Project Gutenberg ==
 
  
If you have a work that you would like to record that is not yet in Project Gutenberg, please submit a copyright clearance request with them to verify the copyright status.
+
Public domain works should not be confused with works that are publicly available. Works posted on the internet are publicly available but may not be in the public domain.  Copying these works may therefore violate the author’s copyright.
  
Here's how:
+
A copyright expires after a set length of time set by law.  When the copyright expires, the work enters the public domain.  LibriVox follows the copyright laws of the United States because all of our files are hosted with [http://archive.org/ Archive.org] whose servers are located in the US.
  
*Go to: http://copy.pglaf.org/index.php
+
In the United States, determining whether a work has entered the public domain or is still under copyright can be quite complex.  Laws in the US have extended copyright terms multiple times, starting with the first publication of a work with a possible renewal term and shifting more recently to a term extending from 50 to 70 years after the death of the author.
*Login (or get username if new to PG)
 
*Select the button next to "Submit a new clearance request" and click "Go!"
 
*Enter the following information about the book in the form
 
:*Title
 
:*Subtitle (if applicable)
 
:*Main language
 
:*Author or creator name
 
:*Other contributors names (if applicable)
 
:*Publisher business name
 
:*Publication location
 
:*Publication dates
 
:*Page scans (title page and verso or other pages with publication information)
 
*Click "SEND this clearance"
 
*Usually within a week, you will receive an email from ''copyrightATpglafDOTorg'' notifying you whether or not the request cleared. If it is cleared, a "Clearance OK key" will be included that you can use to submit the full text to Project Gutenberg.
 
  
=== Works that are NOT OK per Gutenberg ===
+
In most other countries that are signatories to the Berne Convention, copyright term is based on the life of the author and extends to 50 or 70 years beyond the death of the author.
(We've already submitted these, and they did not pass clearance):
 
*ten Boom, Corrie. ''Common Sense Not Needed''.
 
  
----
+
As copyright rights are country-based and vary, a work may be under copyright in one country and not in another.  Therefore, a work may be in the public domain in the US, but still be under copyright in other countries. 
  
== Requesting Help from Librivox ==
+
LibriVox makes good faith efforts to ensure that the texts recorded are public domain in the United States.  We do not, and can’t, ensure that these texts are public domain outside the United States.  It is the responsibility of each reader and listener to determine whether a particular text is public domain in the country in which he or she resides, and to comply with local copyright laws in working on or listening to LibriVox project files.  Wikipedia has country by country guidelines [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries%27_copyright_length here], but LibriVox does not guarantee the accuracy of this information.
  
You are welcome to research the copyright status of works on your own. If you do, please document every step you have taken to determine whether the work is in the public domain.  
+
{| style="width:95%; margin:0 auto; background:#FFFACD; border:1px solid orange; text-align:left;"
 +
| '''NOTE:  LibriVox encourages all volunteers to abide by the laws of their countries, but we are not responsible if a volunteer makes a personal decision to act in breach of their countries' copyright laws.'''
  
However, if you find this process overwhelming, have additional questions, or would just like someone to hold your hand through the process, please create a new topic in the [http://librivox.org/forum/viewforum.php?f=1 Book Suggestions] area of the [http://librivox.org/forum/index.php Librivox Forums], and a volunteer will be able to work with you to submit a request at [http://copy.pglaf.org/index.php Project Gutenberg Copyright Clearance Requests].
+
|}
  
Please include as much of the following information in your request as you can:
+
= Determining Public Domain Status =
*In the Subject line: COPYRIGHT? [TITLE], [AUTHOR]
 
*Full title
 
*Author's name
 
*Names of additional authors, translators, editors, or illustrators
 
*Publication date(s)
 
*Publisher's name and location
 
*If published as part of another work, the title of that larger work (i.e. magazine or compilation title)
 
*Whether you have a paper copy of this work in-hand.
 
*Any URLs of Web sites that you have found with the full-text of the work.
 
*Any additional information that you would like to include.
 
  
----
+
Public domain is a negative space, that is, it consists of works that are no longer in copyright term or were never protected by copyright law.  It can be difficult to determine whether a work’s copyright term has expired.  It can also be difficult to determine if a work is one that was never protected by copyright law in the first instance.  Librivox is a volunteer organization with no budget to defend copyright challenges.  We therefore take a very cautious approach to what is included in the Librivox catalog.
  
== Additional Copyright FAQs ==
+
Published works that fall into one of the following categories may be included in the Librivox catalog:
  
=== What if I don't live in the United States? ===
+
<blockquote>
 +
* Works published in 1924 or earlier (the copyright has expired in the U.S. on these works),
  
Copyright law varies from country to country. LibriVox follows the copyright laws of the United States because all of our files are hosted with [http://archive.org/ Archive.org] whose servers are located in the US.  
+
* Works authored by the U.S. Government (these works are not eligible for U.S. copyright protection),
  
Because Librivox's server and files are hosted in the US, we can only include in our Catalog works that are PD in the US. However, some works that are in the Public Domain in the US might not be PD in the reader's country. If you live in a country where a work you wish to record is not in the public domain, and still wish to record it, you might consider not recording your name or drawing attention to your location. Please note that doing so might be a breach of Copyright.
+
* Works which [http://www.gutenberg.org Project Gutenberg] has determined are in the public domain (the Project Gutenberg website does include some works which are not public domain in the US, so be sure to check the copyright status in the “Bibliographic Record” section for the work you are interested in)
 +
</blockquote>
  
We have been told (by Project Gutenberg) this is a legal grey area, and not clear one way or the other. but we make no particular effort to know where our readers are located, and we keep no record of where our readers were located at the time of recording, and LibriVox cannot guarantee to check the copyright status of a particular work beyound the US which is the area where we must comply.
+
Each edition of a work may have its own period of copyright protection so it is important that Librivox volunteers ONLY use an edition which meets one of the above criteria. Also, every translation has independent copyright protection and Librivox will only accept translations which meet the above criteria.
  
As long as a book is PD in the US where we have our servers, it satisfies the legal requirements for LibriVox. If a reader in the EU (or elsewhere) feels uncomfortable with this possibly grey legal interpretation, then certainly they should consider another project (one that is definitely PD in EU - or where they are located). We try to alert volunteers from life + x countries in the first post of projects if there are potential copyright issues.
+
Project Gutenberg has a mechanism for demonstrating that items published in the U.S. after 1924 are in the public domain in the U.S.  Project Gutenberg calls this a “Rule 6” procedure.  This is a difficult and time consuming process for both you and Project Gutenberg because it essentially involves proving a negative.  Instructions are [http://copy.pglaf.org/rule6-new.htm here]. Project Gutenberg will only entertain requests for Rule 6 clearance from individuals who have demonstrated their ability to do accurate and complete copyright research and will reject incomplete requests.
  
<div class="note">DISCLAIMER: LibriVox makes all efforts to ensure the public domain status of texts in the USA.
+
= Additional Copyright FAQs =
  
LibriVox does not, and cannot, ensure the copyright status of texts outside the USA, and so it is up to listeners and readers to assess compliance with laws in their countries. LibriVox encourages all volunteers to abide by the laws of their countries, and cannot be held liable for the volunteer's personal decision to act in breach of their countries' copyright laws. </div>
+
== Why doesn't LibriVox use a Creative Commons License? ==
 
 
 
 
==== Copyright laws in countries outside the USA ====
 
Most countries outside of the United States have laws that specify the author has copyright for life + ''x'' number of years. In a lot of countries this is life + 50; in the European Union and some others it's life + 70. This means that works of authors who were still alive in [current year] - 70 are still under copyright in the EU. Example: in 2007, works of all authors who died before 1937 are in the public domain in the EU.
 
 
 
In Australia, works by authors who died before 1955 are in the public domain. Works published by authors who died in or after 1955 will now remain in copyright until midnight on 31 December 2025 at the earliest (life +70 years).
 
 
 
See [http://gutenberg.net.au/newsandreviews.html#a14] for more information on changes to Australian copyright law.
 
 
 
For more information about copyright terms in other countries, see ''[[Information about copyright rules]]''.
 
 
 
For more information, see [http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/okbooks.html this FAQ], which explains matters further and lists many countries.
 
 
 
=== Why doesn't Librivox use a Creative Commons License? ===
 
  
 
We had this discussion early on, and decided we didn't want to add any restrictions to the recordings we make, which are based on public domain books. This means others can use our recordings however they wish, including for commercial purposes. We would prefer if people acknowledged us if they do use our recordings, be we can't force them to. This makes some people uncomfortable, but '''the books we record are public domain, and we want our recordings to be public domain too.'''
 
We had this discussion early on, and decided we didn't want to add any restrictions to the recordings we make, which are based on public domain books. This means others can use our recordings however they wish, including for commercial purposes. We would prefer if people acknowledged us if they do use our recordings, be we can't force them to. This makes some people uncomfortable, but '''the books we record are public domain, and we want our recordings to be public domain too.'''
  
 +
See also [[Why Public Domain and not a Creative Commons license?]]
  
=== Is it ok for me to record from a later edition or an html version of a public domain text? ===
+
== May I record an unpublished work? ==
 
 
Usually, yes. If the original text is in the public domain, you may record from any online text that cites the source from which the text was obtained. Copyright statements often accompany these new Internet versions, but the copyright only applies to the formating and layout of the page. However, if the work has been significantly annotated/edited/altered, the new version does retain a copyright. Please make an attempt to verify the authenticity of the text and its source. Later printed editions of books often include new introductions or prefaces that are still under copyright and may not be recorded.
 
  
For more information, please read Project Gutenberg's statement on the topic: http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Gutenberg:No_Sweat_of_the_Brow_Copyright
+
No. Librivox policy is not to record unpublished  or self-published works.  
  
 +
== What if a work has more than one author? ==
  
 +
Where a work has more than one author, it is normal to think of them as ''joint owners''.  If you reside in a “life plus” country, then the work enters the public domain for you when the copyright has expired as to the last to die of the authors.
  
----
+
== Is it ok for me to record from an e-book or html version of a public domain text? ==
  
== Additional Online Resources ==
+
Usually, yes. If the original text is in the public domain, you may record from any online text that is a transcription, scan or OCR version of the original text.  Copyright statements often accompany these new Internet versions, but the copyright only applies to the formatting and layout of the page.
  
[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_domain Public Domain - Wikipedia.org]
+
However, if the work has been significantly annotated/edited/altered, the new version of the work may be entitled to its own period of copyright protection. New introductions or prefaces and book summaries are also entitied to their own period of copyright protection. When you read from a html version, please tell your MC the source you are reading from (e.g., Gutenberg e-text downloaded from Amazon) and your MC will help you confirm that the source you are reading from is public domain.
  
[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright Copyright - Wikipedia.org]
+
== What if I want to record a translation or later edition of a work? ==
  
[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyleft Copyleft - Wikipedia.org]
+
The fact that the original version of a work is in the public domain does not mean that all versions of that work will follow suit. Translations and adapted/edited versions will normally carry a brand new copyright.
  
[http://www.copyright.gov/ United States Copyright Office]
+
For example: the original German version of ''Die Verwandlung'' (''The Metamorphosis'') by [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_Kafka Franz Kafka] is in the public domain in the United States, since it was first published in 1916. However, the 2002 translation of the book into English by David Wyllie is still under copyright.
  
[http://www.public-domain.org/ Union for the Public Domain]
+
If you reside in a life plus country, then the work enters the public domain for you when the copyright has expired as to the last to die of each of the authors and translators.
  
[http://www.public.asu.edu/~dkarjala/publicdomain/SearchC-R.html "How to Determine Whether a Work is in the Public Domain,"] by Dennis S. Karjala, Professor of Law, ASU
+
== How do I determine when an author/translator died? ==
  
[http://creativecommons.org/ Creative Commons]
+
Copyright rules will often state that a work enters the public domain so many years after the death of the author, or so many years after publication. This normally means that the work will enter the public domain on 1st January of the ''year following'' the anniversary of that event.
  
[http://www.fsf.org/ Free Software Foundation]
+
For example: in the United Kingdom, copyright is generally spoken of as expiring "70 years after the death of an author". This really means: "at the beginning of the seventy-first year after the death of the author". [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Orwell George Orwell] died on 21st January 1950. This means that his works will come into the public domain in the United Kingdom on 1st January 2021 (70 years after the beginning of the year following his death).
  
[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berne_Convention_for_the_Protection_of_Literary_and_Artistic_Works Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (International Copyright)]
+
The following websites may be helpful to determine an author or translator’s date of death:
 +
* [http://www.authorandbookinfo.com/ Author and Book Info.com]
 +
* (US) [http://catalog.loc.gov/ Library of Congress catalog]
 +
* (UK) [http://catalogue.bl.uk/ British Library catalog]
 +
* (UK) [http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/bodley/eresources#all Bodleian Library catalog]
 +
* [http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/authors.html Online Books Page]
 +
* [http://openlibrary.org/authors Open Library]
 +
* [http://www.archive.org/details/texts Internet Archive]
 +
* [http://books.google.com/books Google Books]
 +
* [http://www.hathitrust.org/ Hathi Trust]
 +
* (UK only and of limited use except for very unusual names) [http://www.freebmd.org.uk/ FreeBMD], an ongoing project to transcribe the Civil Registration index of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales, and [http://www.ancestry.co.uk/ Ancestry], for which you may need a subscription
 +
* [http://gutenberg.net.au/birthdeath.html Birth and Death dates on Gutenberg AU]
 +
* [http://www.kingkong.demon.co.uk/abyod/abyod.htm Authors by year of death on kingkong.com]
 +
* [http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/meta/chrono.html Authors listed chronologically at Adelaide.edu]
 +
* [http://www.interment.net/ Cemetery records online]
 +
* [http://www.poetsgraves.co.uk/ Poets' Graves]
 +
* [http://www.findagrave.com/ Find a Grave]
  
[http://www.digital-copyright.ca/about/ Digital Copyright Canada]
+
= External links of interest =
  
[http://www.gutenberg.org/ Project Gutenberg]
+
* [http://www.gutenberg.org/ Project Gutenberg]
 +
* [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_domain Public Domain - Wikipedia.org]
 +
* [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright Copyright - Wikipedia.org]
 +
* [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berne_Convention Berne Convention - Wikipedia.org]
 +
* [http://www.copyright.gov/ United States Copyright Office]
 +
* [http://ecommons.library.cornell.edu/bitstream/1813/10884/6/Copyright_renewal_final.pdf Article on American copyright restoration] by Peter Hirtle, 2008
 +
* [http://creativecommons.org/ Creative Commons]
 +
* [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries%27_copyright_length Current copyright terms in various countries]

Latest revision as of 16:36, 3 December 2020

All LibriVox Recordings are in the Public Domain

Copyright is a legal concept that grants the creator of an original work (e.g., the author or translator of a book) exclusive rights to its use and distribution, usually for a limited time. This means that no one else can reproduce the text or make derivative works (such as audio recordings) while the copyright is in force.

Works in the public domain are those whose copyrights have expired, have been forfeited, or are inapplicable. Once a work enters the public domain, it may be freely used or exploited by anyone.

LibriVox takes a text that is already in the public domain, asks volunteers to make audio recordings of that text, and then releases the resulting audio back into the public domain.

This means that if you volunteer to record for LibriVox, you are agreeing to release the audio files you make into the public domain. This means that anyone can use those audio files however they wish.

In addition, book summaries, CD cover art, and any other material that goes into our catalog with the audio recordings are in the public domain.

However They Wish?

What does "however they wish" mean, exactly? People may use our recordings to profit; they may remix them into other projects; they do not need to give credit to the individual reader/writer/creator or to !LibriVox. Anyone may do all kinds of things with LibriVox recordings. Some we might "approve of," and other things we might prefer them not do - but Public Domain means that just about anyone can do what they like with the recordings. Here are some things that we know people have done with LibriVox recordings:

  • used the LibriVox recordings in YouTube videos
  • remixed LibriVox recordings into music, and sold the recordings
  • remixed LibriVox recordings into music, and gave the recordings away
  • used LibriVox recordings in art installations
  • made CDs of LibriVox books, and sold them on ebay (see here for discussions about LibriVox and Ebay)
  • used LibriVox recordings in non-commercial educational projects
  • used LibriVox recordings in commercial educational projects

Some other examples of things that might happen (but has not, to our knowledge happened):

  • CDs of Romance of Rubber sold as a fundraiser for a charity you don't like;
  • The summary of Frankenstein used to promote a major motion picture;
  • Fables for the Frivolous sampled into a violent rap song;
  • Origin of the Species as background atmosphere for a pornographic film;

Although these examples are far-fetched, they are all acceptable uses of public domain materials. So be aware of what you are doing when you free your recordings, text and images into the public domain. You really have to let go!

Librivox Source Materials and Public Domain

Public domain works should not be confused with works that are publicly available. Works posted on the internet are publicly available but may not be in the public domain. Copying these works may therefore violate the author’s copyright.

A copyright expires after a set length of time set by law. When the copyright expires, the work enters the public domain. LibriVox follows the copyright laws of the United States because all of our files are hosted with Archive.org whose servers are located in the US.

In the United States, determining whether a work has entered the public domain or is still under copyright can be quite complex. Laws in the US have extended copyright terms multiple times, starting with the first publication of a work with a possible renewal term and shifting more recently to a term extending from 50 to 70 years after the death of the author.

In most other countries that are signatories to the Berne Convention, copyright term is based on the life of the author and extends to 50 or 70 years beyond the death of the author.

As copyright rights are country-based and vary, a work may be under copyright in one country and not in another. Therefore, a work may be in the public domain in the US, but still be under copyright in other countries.

LibriVox makes good faith efforts to ensure that the texts recorded are public domain in the United States. We do not, and can’t, ensure that these texts are public domain outside the United States. It is the responsibility of each reader and listener to determine whether a particular text is public domain in the country in which he or she resides, and to comply with local copyright laws in working on or listening to LibriVox project files. Wikipedia has country by country guidelines here, but LibriVox does not guarantee the accuracy of this information.

NOTE: LibriVox encourages all volunteers to abide by the laws of their countries, but we are not responsible if a volunteer makes a personal decision to act in breach of their countries' copyright laws.

Determining Public Domain Status

Public domain is a negative space, that is, it consists of works that are no longer in copyright term or were never protected by copyright law. It can be difficult to determine whether a work’s copyright term has expired. It can also be difficult to determine if a work is one that was never protected by copyright law in the first instance. Librivox is a volunteer organization with no budget to defend copyright challenges. We therefore take a very cautious approach to what is included in the Librivox catalog.

Published works that fall into one of the following categories may be included in the Librivox catalog:

  • Works published in 1924 or earlier (the copyright has expired in the U.S. on these works),
  • Works authored by the U.S. Government (these works are not eligible for U.S. copyright protection),
  • Works which Project Gutenberg has determined are in the public domain (the Project Gutenberg website does include some works which are not public domain in the US, so be sure to check the copyright status in the “Bibliographic Record” section for the work you are interested in)

Each edition of a work may have its own period of copyright protection so it is important that Librivox volunteers ONLY use an edition which meets one of the above criteria. Also, every translation has independent copyright protection and Librivox will only accept translations which meet the above criteria.

Project Gutenberg has a mechanism for demonstrating that items published in the U.S. after 1924 are in the public domain in the U.S. Project Gutenberg calls this a “Rule 6” procedure. This is a difficult and time consuming process for both you and Project Gutenberg because it essentially involves proving a negative. Instructions are here. Project Gutenberg will only entertain requests for Rule 6 clearance from individuals who have demonstrated their ability to do accurate and complete copyright research and will reject incomplete requests.

Additional Copyright FAQs

Why doesn't LibriVox use a Creative Commons License?

We had this discussion early on, and decided we didn't want to add any restrictions to the recordings we make, which are based on public domain books. This means others can use our recordings however they wish, including for commercial purposes. We would prefer if people acknowledged us if they do use our recordings, be we can't force them to. This makes some people uncomfortable, but the books we record are public domain, and we want our recordings to be public domain too.

See also Why Public Domain and not a Creative Commons license?

May I record an unpublished work?

No. Librivox policy is not to record unpublished or self-published works.

What if a work has more than one author?

Where a work has more than one author, it is normal to think of them as joint owners. If you reside in a “life plus” country, then the work enters the public domain for you when the copyright has expired as to the last to die of the authors.

Is it ok for me to record from an e-book or html version of a public domain text?

Usually, yes. If the original text is in the public domain, you may record from any online text that is a transcription, scan or OCR version of the original text. Copyright statements often accompany these new Internet versions, but the copyright only applies to the formatting and layout of the page.

However, if the work has been significantly annotated/edited/altered, the new version of the work may be entitled to its own period of copyright protection. New introductions or prefaces and book summaries are also entitied to their own period of copyright protection. When you read from a html version, please tell your MC the source you are reading from (e.g., Gutenberg e-text downloaded from Amazon) and your MC will help you confirm that the source you are reading from is public domain.

What if I want to record a translation or later edition of a work?

The fact that the original version of a work is in the public domain does not mean that all versions of that work will follow suit. Translations and adapted/edited versions will normally carry a brand new copyright.

For example: the original German version of Die Verwandlung (The Metamorphosis) by Franz Kafka is in the public domain in the United States, since it was first published in 1916. However, the 2002 translation of the book into English by David Wyllie is still under copyright.

If you reside in a life plus country, then the work enters the public domain for you when the copyright has expired as to the last to die of each of the authors and translators.

How do I determine when an author/translator died?

Copyright rules will often state that a work enters the public domain so many years after the death of the author, or so many years after publication. This normally means that the work will enter the public domain on 1st January of the year following the anniversary of that event.

For example: in the United Kingdom, copyright is generally spoken of as expiring "70 years after the death of an author". This really means: "at the beginning of the seventy-first year after the death of the author". George Orwell died on 21st January 1950. This means that his works will come into the public domain in the United Kingdom on 1st January 2021 (70 years after the beginning of the year following his death).

The following websites may be helpful to determine an author or translator’s date of death:

External links of interest