LeVar Burton — host of PBS’ Emmy-Award winning show “Reading Rainbow” and LeVar Burton Reads podcast — is striving to bring literacy enrichment to the public during this time of social distancing. However, due to legal complications with copyright infringement, he’s having trouble bringing his podcast to the live stream arena.
The iconic host has been trying to figure out a way to start a live stream dedicated to children’s storytime by reading books aloud for everyone stuck inside during self-isolation, but he’ll need authors’ permission in order to read said stories.
On Wednesday, he tweeted his idea go live with his podcast stating, “I’ve been busting my brain for about a week now trying to figure out how to do a live-streamed version of #LeVarBurtonReads.”
I’ve been busting my brain for about a week now trying to figure out how to do a live-streamed version of #LeVarBurtonReads. I figured that during this difficult time I could contribute by reading aloud to folks who could use some diversion for themselves and their families.
— LeVar Burton (@levarburton) March 24, 2020
After coming up short during his initial search for appropriate content, he then added, “In order to avoid legal complications, I’ve gone down the rabbit hole searching through volumes of short stories in the public domain for appropriate content for families and have come up empty.”
Copyright infringement is vague when it comes to whether or not reading books live and online are allowed, as reported by Vice.
Vice also stated that an incident in 2009 involving a new Kindle text-to-speech feature for reading e-books aloud caused a bit of controversy. In regards to an audio version being a derivative work, “They don’t have the right to read a book out loud,” said Authors Guild executive director Paul Aiken to the Wall Street Journal.
Burton is still in the process of searching for a happy medium to fulfill legalities and be of service to kids at home. Since mandatory social distancing practices have been put into place, people have been using tools like Zoom and Instagram live to stay connected to larger audiences.
Burton’s live-stream method could be a huge help to provide a sense of enrichment as kids across the world adjust to at-home learning.
According to NY Daily News, some have suggested that the “Reading Rainbow” host opts for public-domain books — passages that are free for the public’s consumption — as an alternative to avoid a legal battle.