Can You Read Books on YouTube?

The pastime of reading has come a long way with the advent of kindles, podcasts, and audiobooks. And while you can find YouTubers reading out quotes or excerpts from certain books, is it legal to read books on YouTube?

You can’t read books on YouTube if they have copyright infringement protection. While you may be able to read books in the public domain, reading books on YouTube can result in takedown notices from publishers. You could even lose your YouTube channel if that happens.

Keep reading as this article explores why you can’t always read books on YouTube. You’ll also learn under what circumstances you may be allowed to read books on the platform.

Reading Books on YouTube Can Get You in Trouble

Authors and publishers go through considerable effort to get their books published. Aside from writing and editing, they have to purchase publishing rights, print thousands of copies, and dabble in certain legalities for a successful book release.

Aside from the physical copy, publishers today also have to release an audiobook version for consumers who prefer digesting stories in this way. As such, a lot of work goes into writing and releasing a book.

In most instances, authors support live readings of their books as long as they receive due credit. However, it’s more often the publishers who have an issue with people reading out an entire book on their YouTube channel.

While excerpts are generally accepted, an entire book reading means that consumers can open YouTube and listen to the whole audiobook for free. And this feature is sure to interfere with the sale of audiobooks.

You May Receive Takedown Notices From YouTube

A few YouTube channels (in the early years) would read entire books so consumers could enjoy an audio version of their favorite stories.

However, reading a huge portion of a book on YouTube now can earn you what’s called a takedown notice. These notices are usually from publishers who have filed for copyright infringement on YouTube. In such cases, the book is removed from YouTube. You, as the creator, have to remove any video readings related to the book.

Additionally, creators have to attend what’s known as copyright school, which is an online course for YouTube creators to learn what constitutes copyright infringement. At the end of the course, the creator must affirm and mention that they won’t engage in copyright again.

Here’s a video of one YouTuber explaining how he had to remove all his YouTube books because he received too many takedown notices:

You May Get Warnings From Companies That Protect the Books

While notices from publishers are still manageable (all you have to do is stop reading books by those specific publishers), there are certain cases where your channel may receive takedown notices from companies that represent publishers and authors.

These warnings are more tricky to deal with because often, these companies vouch for multiple publishers and authors. As such, the takedown notice may be for several books on your YouTube channel instead of one specific video.

Additionally, these companies send notices more frequently when they realize that a particular book is being read on YouTube.

You Could Lose Your YouTube Channel 

As mentioned above, companies send more frequent takedown notices than individual publishers. And YouTube has a policy that if you receive more than three warnings within 90 days, they have the right to delete your YouTube channel.

Losing your YouTube channel means any video clips you’ve uploaded will be removed, along with any trace of your channel and the content produced on it. And while this may seem like a minor speed bump you can overcome by opening another channel, it’s not that simple.

YouTube possesses a pretty advanced algorithm. They have ways of determining if someone tries to get around their copyright policies or create multiple YouTube accounts, even when using different email ids! So if you’re an avid YouTube creator, you may have to give up this role if YouTube decides to delete your channel.

Reading Books Without Permission Is Wrong

Now that you’re aware of the consequences of reading books on YouTube, it’s worth thinking about why YouTube has these policies in the first place.

When you’re doing a book or a podcast related to the book on YouTube, you’re using someone else’s creative output to generate content for your channel. And while you can justify this act by saying it’s to popularize someone’s book, the truth is that the creator may be earning less money than they should because of your video.

In all fairness, the returns from a book should go to the person who created it. And by reading a book on YouTube, you deprive them of a certain number of sales they might have made on audiobooks.

Before reading a book on YouTube, the least you can do is ask for permission from the author/publisher and ensure that you aren’t violating any copyright guidelines they’ve set in place.

It’s Alright To Read Books on YouTube in Certain Circumstances

While most readings might earn you a takedown notice, there are some instances where reading a book on YouTube may be acceptable. Some of these include:

  • When you’re reading out an excerpt or a few quotes from the book
  • If you’re reading out a book registered in the public domain and free from copyrights
  • When you have explicitly asked for permission from the author or publisher, and they’ve granted it

While there are publishers who will send you warnings, you’re sure to find others who may be glad to have you read their books (or parts of them) if you provide a link to the book in the description. In some cases, these readings can even help boost sales of the book, which is a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Final Thoughts 

YouTube readings can be pretty helpful to those who prefer audiobooks. However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that copyright policies are in place to protect authors and publishers. And it can be challenging to determine when you’re violating certain rules.

As such, it’s best to avoid reading on YouTube unless you have secured permission from those involved.

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