Recording & Text Policies

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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.

What Sorts of Texts Can Be Recorded for LibriVox?

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).

Government documents that are in the public domain in the USA.

Texts of notable speeches that are in the public domain in the USA.

"Notable" texts that have not been published, but are in the public domain in the USA (eg. unpublished letters of notable people, unpublished short stories, essays etc by published authors).

What Sorts of Texts CANNOT Be Recorded for LibriVox

Texts that are still under copyright in the USA.

Self-published novels, short stories, poems, essays etc

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 1922 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 - they specialize in this. 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.