In 2006 I was entranced with the project. At the time I was working for Abrams Artists Agency in their voice over department, and the work I was hearing from un-paid volunteers was very exciting. I trolled the forums, trying to help people improve the quality of their recordings. I was, even then, bothered by the Public Domain distribution, but their hearts seemed in the right place, and I was eventually motivated to record one of my favorite short stories for the project, The Masque of the Red Death by E.A. Poe.
Now, I'm NO audio book narrator, but I spent a lot of time on that recording. It meant a lot to me personally, and I was really happy with the result. It's even been used in high school english classes across the country. I couldn't have been more flattered.
Now flash forward to 2010.
My recording of Masque is being sold.
On Amazon and eMusic.
I'm credited as the "artist".
I receive NONE of the profit from the distribution of my work.
See, when you release under Public Domain, anyone, at any time, can do ANYTHING they want with your content, in perpetuity (forever). I had conversations with moderators at LV both in 2006, and recently, about their stance on PD distribution. In 2006, the general feeling was that it would be unlikely for anyone to seriously try to collect recordings and sell CD's of the Librovox community's work. Today, however, it's ludicrously easy to create a "label", download the entire LV catalog, and sell it as original work. This is the response I got from a moderator today:
Yes, this [Public Domain Distribution] is still the better way. Those sellers are not doing anything WRONG, although it's dumb for the buyer to purchase something they can get for free. One of the bigger issues would be enforcement. If we stuck restrictions on the recordings, who would do the policing? With what resources would we go after those infringing on the restrictions?
The vision of LibriVox is to get PD books out in audio form. Protecting the recordings from folks who don't use them as we wish would be a waste of resources, pulling them away from our main focus.
This betrays the entire spirit of what the Librivox project stands for. I also find it incredibly irresponsible (and a little insulting) to call a consumer "dumb" if they are looking for audio books and pay for an LV recording. FAR more people know about Amazon then will EVER know about Librivox.
Also the distribution of content under a Creative Commons license would CERTAINLY allow the volunteers at Librivox to police THEIR OWN recordings (if they even want to, they wouldn't be required to), not unlike the way that Flickr allows you to set copyright info for your photos. Distribution under a CC license would've given me the opportunity to serve the "label" with a DMCA take down request (to which Amazon probably would've pulled the audio just to avoid the hassle). It would change NOTHING for the daily operation of LV directly, yet they continue to encourage their own users to submit content under PD, creating an anti-CC culture in the LV forums.
I'm enraged, that my recording could be used in this fashion, but I only have myself to blame for doing work under a Public Domain license. Regardless of what I thought the impact would be in 2006, these products last forever online, and now someone gets to make money off of my donated work.
I used to recommend that people interested in audio book narration check out Librivox, but as it stands today, I must caution ANY voice talent doing work with, or considering recording with LV, not to do any work with them. It's a great project, run by passionate people, so please check out their catalog (hell, sell their catalog), but forever is forever.
You will have no recourse if someone likes your content and sells it.
By the way, here's my recording of Masque of the Red Death, which you can listen to FOR FREE...
Twitter pal @SexCpotatoes just sent me this great link on how to protect your content if you feel someone has violated your copyright:
What Do You Do When Someone Steals Your Content
This of course does not apply to Librivox volunteers...