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If I buy a book (ebook or printed) and narrate an audiobook myself, would it be legal to put it for sale? How about if I put them for free? Would it would violate the copyright of the publisher of the book?

How about if you reverse the question, and write a manuscript based on an Audiobook, say with speech-to-text technologies? Would it violate the publisher's rights?

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    Please ask your separate question as a completely new question and not an update to this question. You can link back to this question for reference if needed. – Jason Aller Dec 29 '15 at 17:27
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    not an answer, but as an aside there are a number of books that have entered the public domain already. These books you should presumably be able to record and even sell an audiobook of. For instance I believe (I don't gaurentee!) that Alice in Wonderland is now available and you could sell all the audiobook copies of it you wanted. I've seen an open source community which was doing this for some popular books, though the crowdsourcing nature of it lead to the books being hard to listen to, too many different readers of the same book can get distracting, and some weren't good readers. – dsollen Dec 29 '15 at 20:43
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The copyright Act gives copyright owners certain rights:

right to reproduce the copyrighted work
right to prepare derivative works based upon the work
right to distribute copies of the work to the public
right to perform the copyrighted work publicly
right to display the copyrighted work publicly

The audiobook you create from a copyrighted work is a derivative work (perhaps it is a reproduction; for the analysis it does not matter). It works the other way also.

A derivative work is a work based on or derived from one or more already existing works. Common derivative works include translations, musical arrangements, motion picture versions of literary material or plays, art reproductions, abridgments, and condensations of preexisting works.

It is a violation of the copyright to create derivative works without permission. The commercial nature of the derivative work does not come into play in this situation. Commercial use might be an issue in a fair use defense, but fair use is not applicable based on these facts. Fair use might apply given facts such as: Ten students own copies of the printed work. These students are blind. A teacher reads the book and provides the recording to the students.

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  • what if these Audiobooks are distributed through P2P? Could "fair use" be applied here? – Ameer Jewdaki Dec 29 '15 at 16:44
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    @AmeerJewdaki that's hilarious! distributing through P2P will promote you officially to a pirate – Ulkoma Dec 29 '15 at 17:00
  • If you want to create audiobooks, get in touch with learningally.org formlerly RFB&D. – jqning Dec 29 '15 at 17:03
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    The commercial nature of the derivative work does come into play with regard to potential damage awards, however. – phoog Dec 29 '15 at 17:42
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    @AmeerJewdaki your best bet is to create audio books that are derived from public domain sources. – phoog Dec 29 '15 at 17:43

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