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Publication Market vs PD rules

Posted: Thu Apr 29, 2021 5:28 pm
by OSP2015
Hello there,

We are a multicast audiobook company and are running into a conundrum that we can't seem to find an answer to. We are based in the US and publication would be in the US. The work we are looking at producing is an A. A. Milne published in 1922, The Red House Mystery. It is PD in the US. However, it would not be PD in the UK or Australia as we believe their laws are death plus 70 years. Milne passed in 1956.

Our question stems from casting some actors who are in the UK or Australia to do minor roles. They provide raw audio. They are not producing the final work. The final work is not being released anywhere except the US market. Are these actors able to participate even though the work is not PD in their country?

It's such a gray area it seems and we are struggling to find a definitive answer. Our thoughts are yes, they can participate because it is not being sold in the UK or Australia. The profits are coming to our company here in the US where the novel is PD. Can anyone shed any light on this situation? Happy to explain further should there be any questions.

Re: Publication Market vs PD rules

Posted: Fri Apr 30, 2021 6:49 am
by AndyJ

There would be no problem with actors from outside the USA performing the work for publication in the US. Any liability would rest with the producer who, I assume, is in the USA and so would be operating under US law. It doesn't really matter if the actors were reading their parts in the UK or Australia. Technically speaking, if they were recording themselves it could be argued that each individual's performance could be seen as a separate sound recording and therefore the actor would be the producer of his/her own individual segement, but I don't think that is a line of argument which would get anywhere. Under UK and Australian law the "producer, in relation to a sound recording or a film, means the person by whom the arrangements necessary for the making of the sound recording or film are undertaken" (Section 178 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988). In other words it would be the overall producer of the audio book, not the individual actor recording his/her part.

In the preparatory stages, the actors reading their parts would not amount to a performance of the work because clearly the public would have no access to their work until the whole was assembled in the USA; in effect it would be no different to them reading the book out loud in their own home to another family member, something which is permissible under UK and Australian law. I don't see the commercial nature of the project altering this assessment.

Re: Publication Market vs PD rules

Posted: Fri Apr 30, 2021 2:48 pm
by OSP2015
Thanks so much! We had inquired in a couple places and this seems to be the consensus. :D