In re: Kindle’s audio – blessing for the blind or copyright violation?

Users with disabilities are fighting back against a recent attempt by the Authors Guild to shut down the Kindle 2’s text-to-speech feature.

About 300 people drawn from the National Federation of the Blind and partner organizations protested outside the offices of the Authors Guild in New York Wednesday in hopes of reversing the Guild’s stance. The Guild claims that the text-to-speech feature of Amazon’s new e-book reader violates authors’ copyrights.

via Amazon’s Kindle 2 Pits Authors Versus the Blind | Gadget Lab | Wired.com.

Version 2.0 of Amazon’s Kindle added a controversial feature that turns text into speech.  Supposedly it doesn’t sound too artificial and is tolerable for a time for most users, but more then tolerable for those with diminished vision who consider it a huge advancement in getting content to them in a usable format (text to speech isn’t new, the article above notes some of the issues surrounding the current systems, but part of Kindle’s appeal is the library of titles you can load up in seconds and listen to – makes you think there is a market for Kindles without screens.)  As with all developments in technology we are getting confronted with new issues (Google Book Settlement and DVD Ripping issues are just two other ones among the many).  The question remains, when I buy your bestseller what bundle of rights am I getting and is one of them the ability to have a synthesized voice convert the words to audio?  Somehow I feel there is a losing battle for the Authors Guild on this one, but they shouldn’t fret in my opinion as I don’t think this will ever replace the mainstream audiobook market where authors, actors and professional voices read the books.

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One Response

  1. Gah, I really want a Kindle, if anything then to read out-of-print books. Unfortunately publishers are being stupid and digital books are just as expensive as hard-copies, which are, in the end, more pleasant to handle, more akin to ageing (and thus being fond to look at), will furnish a room and will not all disappear at once when the battery goes-out. They also smell very nice when they age. Thanks and enjoy your day!

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