Skip to main content

Audiobook Warning - New IP Rights Clauses in Findaway Voices Terms

When the horrendous terms of Amazon’s Audible platform were revealed, many indie authors turned to Findaway Voices to distribute their audiobooks instead. But the industry is now scrambling in alarm following the 2022 acquisition of Findaway Voices by Spotify, who, within two years, have managed to make Amazon look like a perfect saint in comparison. (Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch.)

Although Spotify backed down (slightly) thanks to the overwhelming backlash following their initial announcement, which included the line about waiving the right to object to derogatory use of one’s work, their previous history of issues in the music industry along with their apparent lack of understanding of the independent book publishing industry is deeply concerning.

The original paragraph in the new Spotify terms that sparked outrage.
This clause has since been redrafted.

As part of their backpedaling, Spotify published a list of FAQ in direct response to concerns voiced over social media. Addressing the possibility that their terms could allow them to package transcripts as a physical book and sell it at Walmart, their FAQ states that Findaway Voices by Spotify cannot change audiobooks or create new products that “bypass our payment obligations”. They apparently only require the clause that this applies to in order to provide authors/ publishers with promotional materials. 

To attempt to set authors’ minds at ease regarding AI training, they have included a line in the Terms stating that Spotify is not authorized to use your content to create a new, machine-generated voice without your permission.

Initially, the “irrevocable” part of the license being granted to Spotify came into play when creators who had signed up years ago with Findaway Voices now objected to the new terms under Spotify and sought to remove their audiobooks from the platform… but found themselves facing cancellation fees! Spotify have since removed the word “irrevocable” from their terms, and they state in their FAQ that they “will take steps to stop distributing your audiobook” should you wish to cease using their platform. There is no clarification on whether cancellation incurs a charge.

Once the UK’s Society of Authors entered the fray, Spotify saw fit to remove the references to the user granting Spotify permission to create “derivative” works and the user agreeing not to object to “derogatory treatment” of their content.

But clauses that remain in their Terms that are problematic include:

  • That Spotify may “reclaim” your username for any reason
  • That user access to “the service” is for non-commercial use
  • That users are required to acknowledge (and therefore accept) that removal of their content “may take longer than 30 business days to complete”. It’s possible that this could be interpreted to mean that as long as they say they are “trying to remove your content”, they can take as long as they want to get it done.
  • That Spotify “may pass your name and email address to the allegedly infringing party” if you raise issues of copyright infringement with them. (So, not only does a pirate get to steal your book and profit from it, they could end up being handed your contact details too!)
  • That Spotify may “in its sole discretion” revise, modify, obfuscate or delete a user’s “Monetized Content”.

At the end of their FAQ, Spotify write: “Findaway Voices by Spotify is deeply committed to your success as an Author. We look forward to continuing to power the distribution and contributing to the success of your published works as we innovate on the needs and opportunities of the industry.” I think their serious missteps this year have left very few people convinced that they are sincere.

The overwhelming sentiment among members of the independent publishing community is that selling direct to readers is the best way forward. Or, at the very least, distribute as widely as possible to spread your risk. First Audible, now Findaway Voices… for some it only takes one buyout by the wrong megacompany to shatter a business built exclusively on a single platform.

(Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and this article is not to be considered legal advice.)

How about you? Have you used Audible or Findaway Voices to distribute your audiobooks? Or do you use a different platform? Tell us about your experiences in the comments!

Elle Carter Neal is the author of the middle grade fantasy The Convoluted Key (first in the Draconian Rules series), the picture book I Own All the Blue, and teen science-fantasy novel Madison Lane and the Wand of Rasputin (first in the Grounded series). Elle is based in Melbourne, Australia. Find her at

Author photo by Amanda Meryle Photography

Detective image by GraphicMama-team from Pixabay