Permissions to share my books in the Covid era

Since school closures began due to the Covid pandemic, I’ve received scores of emails from teachers asking permission to share my books with their home bound students. (Music teacher Jen Meyer of Iowa was the first to contact me with this timely idea, but thank you, EVERYONE, for your inspiration and care!) To keep students engaged while schools are closed, teachers and librarians have my publishing company’s permission to read, show pictures and play the audio of my books online for their learning communities via Class Dojo, Google Classroom, etc. Copyright, however, becomes an issue when people post my entire books online for public access on Youtube, for example, without prior permission.

Creative types also should refrain from posting my books with instrumental music other than the original soundtrack that accompanies my narrations. For instance, playing hip-hop in the background while reading The Jazz Fly might be interesting, but it could definitely give viewers the wrong idea of how the book with audio really sounds. That sort of misrepresentation is something publishers seek to avoid.

So again, sharing my books with your local learning community by remote, i.e. playing the audio and turning the pages or reading in your own voice, is fine. But you would need a separate permission from my publishing house to share your readings of an entire book publicly on social media.

In case you were wondering, the traditional understanding of “Fair Use” under copyright law allows for brief quotations of published works in reviews, articles and now social media posts. So you are right to inquire about special permission to share a published work in its entirety. If you do share my books with your students by remote, please send a link to your reading or activity as I know that would brighten my day 😊. I may even be able to make time for a free Q & A by remote (though that might be easiest once school resumes.)

And now for that first inquiry from Jen Meyer that seemed to precipitate a flood of emails since:

“Mr. Gollub, My name is Jen Meyer. I am elementary general music teacher from Iowa. Our schools are shut down due to the Coronavirus. I would like permission to use your “Jazz Fly 2 ” story and videotape myself reading the story to a grade level of my students. Your, “Jazz Fly” was a great hit with my 3rd graders at the beginning of the year for rhythmic work and body percussion. This story would be a great way to stay in contact with families and continue learning as we are not together at school. We use “Class Dojo” as a communication system with families, and I would upload the video for students to watch. Thank you for your response, Jen Meyer”

Keep jazzin’, teachers, and let me know how I can help you and your students!