Recording & Text Policies
Our objective is to record texts as they were published. This means:
- You may not change the published text in any way (eg. to remove swear words, language or ideas you find objectionable, or to "update" a text). Our objective is to record texts as they were written.
- You may not add or remove text.
- You may not add an audio introduction or editorial comment. You can however include this kind of thing in the catalog text.
We do not allow computer-generated (synthesized) voices in our recordings. LibriVox recordings are made by volunteers using their own voices.
- 1 Texts that can be recorded for LibriVox include the following:
- 2 Texts that CANNOT be recorded for LibriVox include the following:
- 3 Our policy on text sources:
- 4 How are books selected for LibriVox?
- 5 Can all books be recorded for LibriVox?
- 6 How can I tell if a book is in the public domain?
- 7 I wrote an unpublished book! Will LibriVox record it?
- 8 LibriVox and "Sensitive" Topics
- 9 May I change the text?
- 10 I'd like to record a book that's already in the LibriVox catalog. Is that OK?
Texts that can be recorded for LibriVox include the following:
Published books that are in the public domain in the USA
Published short works that are in the public domain in the USA (essays, newspaper articles, short stories, poems, etc)
US government documents that are in the public domain in the USA
Texts of notable speeches that are in the public domain in the USA
Texts that CANNOT be recorded for LibriVox include the following:
Texts that are still under copyright in the USA
Self-published novels, short stories, poems, essays, etc
Our policy on text sources:
The fact that a text was published more than 95 years ago doesn't mean that all internet versions of it are acceptable for our use. Some sites slap restrictions on texts; others do not state clearly what edition their text came from (they may have been edited or from a still-copyrighted edition).
Texts acceptable for LV:
- Scans of works which show the publication year as being more than 95 years ago
- Texts available on Gutenberg.org, whose copyright status on the book information page shows as PD in the USA (see note below)
- Texts from other sites that state clearly which edition the text came from, and that do not restrict the use of their text with a CC or other license (gutenberg.au, bartleby.com, and plenty of others may qualify)
Sources that share transcribed works (e.g. works rendered into html or a cleaned up PDF) without a clear statement of what edition they came from aren't allowed, just like they're not allowed for >95-year-old works. Wikisource is not acceptable unless it has a scan that clearly shows a publication date of 96 years or more, because they restrict use of the texts with a CC license.
Note also that HathiTrust restricts views on many of their works for out-of-USA viewers. So if you can, please use Gutenberg or Internet Archive first, and Hathi as a later option.
How are books selected for LibriVox?
All works recorded for LibriVox are selected by volunteers.
There are several ways:
- Someone (a listener, or a volunteer) suggests a book (or text - we also read short works and poetry!) We have a forum for that (ingeniously named "Book Suggestions") where people can post suggestions along with a summary of the book. Very often suggestions from this forum are picked up by volunteers and realised -- either as solo, or as a collaborative project (see How LibriVox Works for information on these). Here are some great external sources for texts: Book Resources.
- A reader comes to the forum and already knows which book s/he wants to read, and starts a solo project straight away.
- A reader has already recorded a book and 'donates' it to LibriVox.
So basically, book selection boils down to what people would like to hear or read. Most volunteers either choose to read books they love, or books they've always wanted to read or think sound interesting.
Since LibriVox's lofty goal is to record all books in the public domain, everything will be recorded eventually!
Can all books be recorded for LibriVox?
No. At LibriVox, we can only read books that are in the public domain, i.e.. free of copyright.
How can I tell if a book is in the public domain?
Project Gutenberg has a huge catalog of public domain e-books, and they do extensive legal checking before releasing their titles. Generally, if it was published in 1924 or earlier, it's public domain in the U.S., which is good enough for us. After that, it gets more complicated.
For more information, see Copyright and Public Domain.
I wrote an unpublished book! Will LibriVox record it?
Unfortunately, no. We are focused on producing audio recordings of published public domain books. However, we encourage you to publish an audio version over at scribl.com, or upload them directly to archive.org. And if you hang out on the forums here, and do some recordings, you might find some willing volunteers to help you record yours too.
LibriVox and "Sensitive" Topics
Every work included in the LibriVox collection is potentially a sensitive and sacred text...depending on the reader or listener. We approach every work with respect, but we will not exclude a work because of it being potentially offensive or disrespectful. The nature of our collection is historical due to it being primarily published in 1922 and earlier, and we will be running into works that will raise questions, concerns, or conflicts (i.e. religion, slavery, woman's status in society, treatment of indigenous peoples, etc.)
We acknowledge that some of the information and perspectives presented may be offensive, or even just plain incorrect, but we're preserving history as presented by people of a specific time period without making judgements or statements about these perspectives.
May I change the text?
Occasionally people ask if they can change the published text, for instance by omitting or substituting offensive words or ideas.
The answer is No. We present the text as it is written: no additions, omissions, or substitutions. If the text contains a word you just cannot say, consider choosing something else to record. (There is so much available to record! No need to cause yourself discomfort.) If you wish to make an "editorial comment" about the content of the text, you may do so in the written catalog summary, but you may not add it to the recording.
I'd like to record a book that's already in the LibriVox catalog. Is that OK?
Yes! As long as the book is in the US public domain, you can record it for LibriVox, even if we have other versions.
Please note that we do not allow the same recording to be used in more than one LibriVox project. For example, if you record a poem for a LibriVox poetry collection and later decide to record a book of poetry that includes the same poem, you must make a new recording of that poem.