RAQs: Recently Asked Questions

Topic: Audiobooks at the library - 1/23/2018
Amazon.com sells audiobooks. One of the formats is an MP3 CD. The image of an example box says the...
Posted: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 Permalink

MEMBER QUESTION

Amazon.com sells audiobooks. One of the formats is an MP3 CD. The image of an example box says the MP3 is transferable. 

My question is, if I bought one of these audiobook MP3 CDs for the library, would it be copyright infringement for me to transfer the audiobook MP3? What if I wanted to transfer it to a google drive so that it could be shared amongst a teacher and her students? Would that be copyright infringement?

Just wondering on the dynamics. 

WNYLRC ATTORNEY'S RESPONSE

The answer to all of the questions is: Yes, buying an MP3 audiobook on CD, copying it, and putting the copy on a drive accessible to others, unless the CD’s license authorizes it, would be copyright infringement[1].  

An audiobook’s license is what that defines the permission a user has to copy the file.  A typical license for an audiobook contains something like this:

When you purchase [Vendor] Content, [Vendor] grants you a limited, revocable, non-exclusive, non-transferable license to download or stream such [Vendor] Content to your computer and/or other device(s) solely for your personal, non-commercial use. You agree to not otherwise copy, reproduce, distribute or use the [Vendor] Content other than as expressly set forth herein. You will not sell, transfer, lease, modify, distribute or publicly perform the [Vendor] Content in any manner and you will not exploit it commercially. ”[2]

Some licenses do allow transfer of audio books onto multiple devices, and some may even provide for one person to transfer the MP3 to another; the permutations are only limited by the soft and hardware containing the copies, and the business plans of the publisher.

Which brings me back to the member’s question.  In the scenario presented, it is not quite clear if “transferable” (as used on the cover of a CD) means transferable between devices, or between owners; only by checking the actual licensing information on the product would you be able to determine that.  

It is rare for the owner of an audiobook to simply offer limitless transferability, but the fine print, not the cover, is where you’ll find out for sure.  And that is the dynamics (a good word for something as in flux and digital rights management)!



[1] Unless the recording is in the public domain, the conversion is for ADA accessibility purposes, if the use is a “Fair Use,” or some of the other very narrow exemptions apply.  But we’ll just focus on conventional, copyright-protected audiobooks that a publisher is selling for money.

[2] The mystery is killing you, right? This is an excerpt from the Audible license.

 

Tags: Copyright, E-Books and Audiobooks, Licensing

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