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Legal guidance for sharing books and stories online

Find guidance and advice on how you can share books and stories online during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown

Lots of people have been in touch to ask if it’s legal to record or broadcast themselves reading from a book and share the reading with a class, Bookbug group or on social media.

The sharing of material to the public online is an act protected by copyright. This means it is not legal to share published material online without the permission of the rights holder, often the publisher. Unfortunately, an author cannot grant you permission to share their published work if they don’t hold the rights to do so.

You must seek permission from the rights holder before you share any published material (including filmed readings, podcast recordings and pages copied from a book) with the public. If you aren’t sure who holds the rights, contact the publisher to check. You can still be breaking copyright laws if you share material with a small audience such as a Facebook group, online classroom or mailing list.

Some publishers have updated their copyright permissions to reflect the current unusual circumstances. We've listed some of them, but others may do the same, so it's worth getting in touch to check. You should still read these permissions carefully and contact the publisher before you share anything online.

If you do get permission to share an author’s work, let the author know if you can. They might like to share your post on their own social media channels. Authors love to see readers engaging with their work and it may mean a lot to them right now.

If it's appropriate, please encourage your audiences to borrow or buy the author's books - many libraries have ebook services.

Information for authors

If you are a published author, you may still need to seek permission from your publisher to share your work online. You should check your publishing contract, or speak to your agent or editor for specific details.

If you are approached by somebody who wants to share your work online, you can direct them to your publisher. You may also want to share our statement on fair payment for online author events.

Resources

There are lots of free, legal resources already online that you can share with people at home. Take a look at our Home Activities Hub, the Bookbug song and rhyme library, Bookbug's songs and rhymes app and Authors Live On Demand.

We'd love to know what you think about our content. Please email digital@scottishbooktrust.com(this will open in a new window) if you have any comments or feedback.