Commercial Use of Librivox Recordings

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Post by hugh » August 22nd, 2018, 11:15 am

FYI Audible contact got back to me, and I sent the following.... awaiting response:

Thanks for getting back to me! Hope all is well in NYC (are you still there?).

Here's the context (you know some of this already ... but...):
- LibriVox is volunteer a community that makes free public domain audiobooks, and gives them away for free on the web
- Because they are free & public domain, people often repackage them and sell them on various platforms (apps, CDs on ebay, and digital audiobooks on Audible)
- While this is legally allowed by the license, it causes occasional flare ups in the community
- A particular set of annoyances is when this "new" publisher:
-- changes the name of the narrator/voice actor in the metadata
-- claims copyright on the audio (which is public domain)

Some years ago when this came up, my audible contact (who has since moved on) said it was Audible's policy not to allow publishers to sell LibriVox recordings, because:
a) they are available free elsewhere online
b) and when audible users discover this it annoys them

Questions I have:
1. Is it still against Audible policy for 3rd party publishers to resell free public domain audiobooks from LibriVox?
2. If so, could you let me know who we should inform of such cases?
3. Or, do you know who might know the answers to these questions?


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Post by annise » September 25th, 2018, 10:38 pm

Seems like there is still some doubt about whether Librivox will change its policies about adding to the text, and/or changing the license our readings are released under. I don't want to rehash all the pros and cons, but the answer is no. We understand some people are unhappy about that, and we are sorry if they decide no longer to contribute voices to LV, but after careful consideration, we decided to stick with the existing model. So no different licence and no "watermarks" or should it be voicemarks, textmarks, or wordmarks.

I'm sorry I'm late posting this, I thought the subject was resolved, and Hugh is still trying to contact Audible and will, I'm sure, tell us the result if there is one.


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Post by hugh » September 26th, 2018, 6:01 am

Yes still chasing Audible. Will re-chase.

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Post by Lushnam » January 18th, 2019, 5:04 am

Referring to them as pirates implies that the work is not in the public domain. Public domain works can legally be sold (by anyone), without attributing the original authors (although there may be plagiarism laws that could help you there in some situations). Pirating implies that what they're doing is criminal. Anyone can also freely make derivative works of public domain materials (and own the copyright on the derivative work—without changing the public domain status on the original work). What others do does not influence whether you can sell your own public domain works (but they're no longer yours anymore than they're anyone else's). However, if people make derivative works, you don't have license to do whatever you want with those derivative works (without the permission of those who derived them).

I personally disagree with all efforts to stop people from treating public domain works as if they are public domain. It kind of defeats the purpose.

The problem I see with adding additional licenses is that then we'd have to change every single recording to date, since they currently all say 'all LibriVox recordings are in the public domain'. Rather than do that (and I don't know if that could legally be done, since LibriVox has already made that declaration), I think launching a new partner domain would be a better idea (then LibriVox could continue to say that, and the new site could be for Creative Commons licenses, etc.); then, we won't make previous recordings dishonest.

It should be noted that even many works with Creative Commons licenses can be sold, and have derivative works made of them (without additional permission than what the license grants). However, they are more strict about having derivative works keep the same license and/or having redistributed and/or derivative works attribute the authors, for at least most of them. I don't think the recordings would have to keep any particular messages in them, however (they might just be distributed with text files that attribute the authors and contain the license)—but I'm not sure how Creative Commons works there. It sounds like you'd probably want to create a special additional license for the new domain if you want to keep everyone happy. Anyone can make a custom license for their own works (but whether your intent for that license holds in court is probably best something for a lawyer to review); I mean to say, the new site could make new licenses.

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Post by cowguy02 » July 31st, 2019, 12:27 pm

Based on what I have read it stinks but it is legal. HOWEVER: I concur that it looks like ACX has rules against it. I have a contact there and would be happy to reach out if this is still a concern, however I don't see anything being done unless ACX listens to every book and then check against the Librivox catalog. Since ACX only checks with a computer program I don't forsee this happaning.

Anyway my $0.02 :D
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Post by tovarisch » July 31st, 2019, 12:56 pm

Well, it simply means they need a better program. :P
  • reality prompts me to scale down my reading, sorry to say
    to PLers: do correct my pronunciation please

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