[FoRK] kindle?

Luis Villa luis at tieguy.org
Thu Feb 12 08:57:59 PST 2009

On Thu, Feb 12, 2009 at 11:47 AM, Lawnun <lawnun at gmail.com> wrote:
> Lest we get too comfortable merely arguing over whether or not bit ownership
> is enough to keep us from purchasing a Kindle.
> http://www.engadget.com/2009/02/11/know-your-rights-does-the-kindle-2s-text-to-speech-infringe-au/

I think Gaiman's response to this was best:
"any authors' societies or publishers who are thinking of spending
money on fighting a fundamentally pointless legal case would be much
better off taking that money and advertising and promoting what audio
books are and what's good about them with it."

> *Hey, so does the Kindle 2's Read to Me text-to-speech feature really
> infringe on authors' copyrights?
> *....
> Okay, so the issue is that the Kindle 2's Read to Me feature obviously
> threatens the audiobook market, and while at first blush it seems like the
> Authors Guild has a pretty weak case when executive director Paul Aiken says
> things like <http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123419309890963869.html> "They
> don't have the right to read a book out loud," it's not necessarily as
> ridiculous as it seems.
> Yeah, that's totally ridiculous! Wait, what?
> Well, think about it this way -- once you get it on the Kindle 2, an ebook
> can serve as both a regular book (that you read) and a recording (that you
> listen to). What the Authors Guild seems to be saying -- in a totally
> backwards and potentially inaccurate way -- is that while Amazon has the
> rights to sell you the book, it doesn't have the rights to sell you the
> recording.
> *...*
> **
> But the Kindle isn't playing back recordings -- it's synthesizing sounds
> based on the words in the book! Isn't that just a private reading?
> Sure, and a MIDI piano isn't playing back song recordings, it's just playing
> notes from a file that sound exactly like the sound recording, right?
> This is actually pretty tough stuff -- as far as edge cases go, this one
> pushes right up against the boundaries of the current law. On one hand, you
> definitely have the right to read books that you own out loud using whatever
> tools you want, and on the other, authors definitely have the right to
> prevent others from selling audio versions of their works. The Kindle's
> text-to-speech feature blurs the lines between books and recordings, and
> that means those two rights are in conflict with each other.
> Come on, text-to-speech has been around forever! What's next, suing Apple
> for MacInTalk?
> ...
> Well, sure, you can buy ebooks and play them back using OS X's
> text-to-speech voices. But here's the thing -- no one really does that, so
> no one cares. The Kindle is the first major text-to-speech device that could
> impact audiobook sales, so it's not surprising it's the first to garner this
> kind of scrutiny. Remember: just because someone can file a lawsuit doesn't
> mean they have to.
> Okay, but who's honestly going to choose the Kindle's computer voice over a
> real person reading an audiobook?
> You're right, nothing's ever going to compare to a real live person reading
> to you, but it's not like technology ever stops progressing -- while the
> Kindle 2's voice isn't the best, we'd bet almost anything that the Kindle 5
> or the Kindle 10 will be more than adequate for a lot of people. Remember,
> people happily listen to 128kbps MP3s through crappy iPod headphones all day
> long -- eventually the quality tipping point will come, and the Authors
> Guild is just trying to protect its own before they get totally bowled over.
> *...*
> **
>  When I first read this, I was thinking that Amazon might have an out
> through the obscure Section 121 of the Copyright Act (
> http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.html#121), but it appears that
> Congress crafted that sucker a bit more precisely than I originally gave it
> credit for.
> I always find copyright law most interesting when one considers that a
> demand to exert copyright protection only really manifests once a new
> technology becomes sufficiently viable/sexy enough to cause a threat.  It
> also makes me wonder if we should have a higher standard for authors that
> actually require them to say, police their rights early on (say, against the
> initial Speech-to-text creators), rather than waiting until everyone sees
> dollar signs a decade or so down the line.
> C
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