Someone has written content and wishes to read it aloud as audio-based entertainment. The content is of such a nature as could also be feasibly published in novel form.

If the content is published to Youtube, does it receive legal protection as a written work? Moreover, can the creator self-publish it in PDF form through a service such as Amazon while also maintaining ownership of the audio content? How easy is it for someone to republish the work as their own? Are there important legal ramifications relevant to the interests of the creator not being mentioned here?

  • Is the written content itself a derivative work, or is it original?
    – sharur
    Mar 14, 2017 at 0:24
  • Wholly original.
    – NCP
    Mar 19, 2017 at 15:26

1 Answer 1


Assuming that the content written is itself not a derivative work (e.g., not fan fiction), and that the author has copyright over the work (which is the default situation):

Copyright attaches when the work is set forth in a "tangible medium", which is "when its embodiment in a copy or phonorecord, by or under the authority of the author, is sufficiently permanent or stable to permit it to be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated for a period of more than transitory duration."

Skipping past the legalese, basically, when it was typed on a computer or written on paper, the author obtained copyright over the work. Part of copyright is the ability to control derivative works, such as a reading. So if the author has copyright, the author can read it aloud and post the recording on YouTube, creating a derivative work of their material.

Some caveats:

  1. If the material is a derivative work, and not fair use, a) the original material is under the control of the original copyright holder and b) the audio version of the material is as well.
  2. If the author was paid to create the original work, as a general rule subject to their contract, the one who paid to create the work owns the copyright, and their approval is necessary to make the derivative audio recording.

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