Reading Books on Youtube Copyright

What is the legality of creating YouTube videos of yourself reading books?

Reading books is a hobby or passion. Creating YouTube videos of you reading books comes under copyright.  An exclusive right is with the book writer. Reading a book aloud or showing it in a video form is a derivative work. The copyright owner has the right to make derivative works.

Do you want to read books and create YouTube videos of them?

No. it is a copyright law violation. It means you are making a derivative work using the original story. An audio recording of the story created by someone else is a violation of the law.

Referring to the legality of creating YouTube videos of you reading books is acceptable if the books are in the public domain. However, even then, if the books in the public domain are under copyright, you have to seek the right holder’s permission.

The owner having the copyright has exclusive rights to create derivative works of their writing. Reading aloud a book and showing it in video form is a derivative work. Using others’ copyrighted work is permissible and will not be viewed as infringing if using is fair use. 

What is fair use?

Fair use is a copyright law provision allowing to read aloud, and to shift to online learning from the classroom. Fair use is a copyright law limit allowing anyone to sue the copyrighted work for a purpose such that it should not harm the original core market.

It means the teachers read aloud online using school websites, live webcasts, or learning management systems, fair use enables the same practice as taking place in person.

The fair use examples include a comment, criticism, teaching, news reporting, research, or scholarship. A fair use determination is a fact, so get a full analysis if fair use is suitable for this situation.

It is because the analysis relies on factors, and varies regionally within the country.

Reading books available in the public domain is fine. If not, it is a copyright infringement not protected probably by fair use. The rights of copyright holders are to control derivative works, besides the transference to mediums.

What is copyright infringement as per US law? Avoid these to stay safe legally

A copyright infringement, under US law, is fair use is weighed as per the basis of each case. They consider four points:

  • The copyrighted work’s nature
  • The character and purpose of one’s use
  • The effect of the use on the potential market or the copyrighted work value
  • What is the proportion and amount of the work

The evaluation of these points, in general, is as:

  • It depends on what is read as an informative work such as a textbook that is likely to be considered as fair use than some creative work such as novels.
  • It depends on the way you use your video. If you try to monetize using the YouTube videos, it is wrong. Even, merely reading a book aloud is unlikely to be favorable to you.
  • It is certainly against you as you are creating an unauthorized audiobook.
  • It depends on what and how much proportion of work you use. Presuming you are reading the whole book, the rules are certainly against you.

Precisely, you may read a book aloud but cannot record the reading for your use. It means you should not upload yourself reading books on YouTube or any other sharing site.

Different countries have different rules regarding the books that are available in the public domain. It is necessary to check the rules as the internet crosses borders, and there may be multiple rule sets applicable.

Work available in the public domain may be a result of the expiry of the copyright. It means it has no copyright protection and so there is no issue of fair use. Fair use in US law is an exception to copyright.

The laws of copyright in other countries but for the US undergo various exceptions. However, they are not close to fair use. Infringement of copyright may be in any country, so checking the local law for the copyright is crucial.

The legality of reading books aloud and creating YouTube videos

YouTube itself makes read-aloud videos. Books are available to read, yet quality online videos give kids a nice learning experience.

The legality of reading books and creating YouTube videos is ‘Not’ allowed. It is the reason even teachers are warned regarding this practice. Only fair use permits as per copyright law the use of online digital reading materials.

Reading a book aloud without permission from the copyright holder is not acceptable. It is certainly against the law, and without any question, it is a violation of copyright.

Making YouTube videos is possible of anything, but books written by others are their copyright.  The books come under the grey areas. So, using other written books to read in front of a camera is a copyright violation.

Especially, if the book owner has an authorized video/audio version, you cannot think of reading books and creating YouTube of it. However, if the owner requests the audio or video version, you can do the reading.

Why is reading books illegal on Youtube?

Students’ reading a book is legal, but teachers are warned from reading aloud activities. Copyright law includes the provisions of fair use at certain times.

Schools, families, and teachers experience the shift to online education. Yet, reading online a book to students is not acceptable. Learners and instructors must adapt to educational new environments. At the same time, consider copyright concerns highlighting not reading aloud.

Public reading of any book aloud on YouTube is infringing the rights of the author of the book and is under copyright protection.


Reading books aloud and creating YouTube videos is a copyright violation. The logic is applicable as the reading should not materially interfere with the physical or electronic copies sold. During an emergency, the freedom to read as educators under fair use is available.

However, if the works are in the protection under copyright law, you need not display or perform in public without a license. Using references or quotes as a commentary may be fair use, but reading an entire story is not.

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