Book Videos and Intellectual Property

Every month or so, I get a Google Alert about a YouTube (or other site) video about one of our books. Most of the time, it’s not really our book at all, just something with a similar title. When it is our book, 99% of the time I click through to find a funny (or sometimes boring) clip of someone reading one of our books to a child or some other reenactment of the book. The clip does not feature the book, it’s text, or artwork in its entirety, so I add it to my monthly publicity report and move on.

Earlier this month, the clip was of a very cute child dancing and singing along to another video featuring one of our books. Again, the clip did not feature the entire book (the child in question asked her parent to stop taping her). However, I was intrigued by the video they’d been playing on a fairly large screen behind her.

When I did a search, I found a video that featured the entire book, page-by page, close up with a someone singing the words of the book to a tune they had created. It was, in effect, a talking eBook.

That is called a theft of intellectual property.

I sent the creator an email and YouTube a copyright infringement form. The creator sent me a sarcastic email about not wanting my book publicized and took down the video.

The man is obviously an artist himself (a musician – the song really was very cute), so I’m not sure why he doesn’t understand that appropriating the entire work of another artist is stealing.

As he stated in his email, he feels that his videos (he has many on YouTube with other stolen content) are promoting the books. But as the first video I saw proves, parents were using his video — not running out to buy the book.

So, video creators, please be aware of the rules of copyright and intellectual property when making your fun clips. A great video clip can both entertain thousands of people and help promote a book, author, or illustrator.

Authors and illustrators, if you see your copyright being violated, please do notify your publisher. Sometimes these things can even be worked out. In the case above, had the musician asked permission in advance, he might have been able to create a video that really did promote the book. That would have been amazing!

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Book Videos and Intellectual Property