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Author's Guild Says Kindle's Text-To-Speech Software Illegal 683

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the you-gotta-be-kidding-me dept.
Mike writes "The Author's Guild claims that the new Kindle's text-to-speech software is illegal, stating that 'They don't have the right to read a book out loud,' said Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild. 'That's an audio right, which is derivative under copyright law.' Forget for a moment that text-to-speech doesn't copy an existing work. And forget the odd notion that the artificial enunciation of plain text is equivalent to a person's nuanced and emotive reading. The Guild's claim is that even to read out loud is a production akin to an illegal copy, or a public performance."
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Author's Guild Says Kindle's Text-To-Speech Software Illegal

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  • To hell with them! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FredFredrickson (1177871) * on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:15AM (#26812733) Homepage Journal
    Do you hear the sound of the words echo through your head as you read words, like me? Well, as the copyright owner of this comment, I forbid such usage- and deny you the ablity to read this comment out loud to your friends either.

    Seriously though, despite this being a rediculous idea, what is the Authors' Guild actually trying to do here?
    I mean, if anybody is really pushing to create more copyright holder rights, it's Amazon and the Kindle. Let's review...

    -The right to not let my friends borrow my book when I'm finished reading it? Check.
    -The right to not resell my book on the used books market when I'm done? Check.
    -The right to having access to my books revoked on a whim if my provider goes out of business, or *gasp* decides it's not a profitable market (MSN Music, I'm looking at you)? Check.

    With all these rights landgrabs that Amazon is making with their digital books on Amazon (and heck, digital media in general), I'd assumed they were colluding with the Author's Guild. I mean, if nobody can share your books, and nobody can help spread the buzz surrounding your great ideas or fiction... that means you'll make more sales... right?

    To hell with all of them. I'll read quietly, or out loud when ever I please. And just for being assholes, I'm going to pirate the next book published by a guild author. And I'm going to listen to Microsoft Sam read it to me. And I'm going to pretend to like it.
    • by dmomo (256005) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:20AM (#26812855) Homepage

      What is the purpose of the "read out loud" right? Because reading out loud would be an interpretation and infringe on the art? What about a monotone voice, like text to speech?

      What happens, however when the tech gets so good that it can read with emotion.. better yet, mimick the voice of any person we choose? Do the rules then change?

      • by orclevegam (940336) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:38AM (#26813139) Journal
        Nah, it's the same general issue of space shifting as has already been addressed time and again (and either upheld or not in various cases). They'll lose this one, as if you already have it on the kindle you bought it (in theory) and therefore have the right to space shift that copyrighted work into whatever form you want. It's really no different than ripping a CD to a mp3 and then loading it on your MP3 player. Think of it this way, both audio recording, and printed text are just different encoded forms of the same underlying concepts. There is some argument against performing a piece, but in having a personal ebook device read you its contents that's clearly designed for personal use not performance to a large audience, and therefore covered under fair use.
        • by FredFredrickson (1177871) * on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:45AM (#26813263) Homepage Journal
          You can't space-shift a DRM laiden product, because that requires breaking the encryption, which is against the DMCA.
          • by TheSambassador (1134253) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:57AM (#26813489)
            LOL! Reading aloud breaks encryption? I love life right now.
            • by Wooky_linuxer (685371) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @01:23PM (#26815047)
              Of course. You read it aloud, record it and then process it through a speech-recognizing software, and - bingo! Encryption broken. It is more of an analog hole really. I am waiting anxiously for the equivalent of HDCP for e-books. Perhaps a device that scramble the letters if it hears you reading the text. It will be mandatory in every ebook reader or consumer oriented OS, of course, or else you can't upload text to it. The IP must be protected at all costs from these damn pirates.
            • by BlueStrat (756137) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @02:25PM (#26816085)

              LOL! Reading aloud breaks encryption? I love life right now.

              Wait. It gets better.

              Since that means that a person uses their brain to "decrypt" the content, then a human brain could be considered an illegal circumvention device. Would proof of illiteracy be enough to get charges dropped? Will they simply put up prison walls around the entire country?

              Oh, wait...they're already doing that. Walls in data and communications. Walls in ideas and music. Walls in personal rights and equal protection under the law. Walls between your right to property you own and governments' right to take it away and give it to someone with more money.

              [sarcasm]
              But, what the hey? As long as there's cable TV who's going to make that much fuss about all that stuff those nerds and geeks go on about.
              [/sarcasm]

              Between the dumbing-down of the population along with the desensitization to political corruption that have both been happening for many decades, I'm afraid the majority of people don't know, don't care, and don't want to know or care.

              On top of all that, they're too busy trying to cope and help their families cope with living and paying bills when they have less and less coming in, jobs getting scarce, prices going up, and government taking an ever-larger bite from their wages.

              Strat

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by orclevegam (940336)

            You can't space-shift a DRM laiden product, because that requires breaking the encryption, which is against the DMCA.

            Maybe, maybe not. That portion of the DMCA is, shall we say of questionable legality and enforceability, much like the EULA (IANAL BTW, not legal advice, ask a lawyer, yada yada yada). We're rather quickly approaching the point at which a serious legal challenge is going to come up against some of the more brain dead provisions of things like the DMCA and I really don't know which way things are going to fall. I rather hope fair use and the rights of the consumer triumph (not to mention common sense), but I

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by MBGMorden (803437)

            Except that the creator of the DRM puts in this feature and it operates within the limitations of the DRM. The encryption is never broken because it's an approved use.

            The problems with DRM come in when you think up a way to use your media that they didn't think up first.

          • by Count Fenring (669457) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @01:31PM (#26815223) Homepage Journal
            Although I'm pretty much under the impression that the authorized device is perfectly allowed to unlock the encryption, for the purpose of allowing the owner (well, licensee, at least) to view/listen to the content.
        • by nametaken (610866) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @12:01PM (#26813553)

          The closest example I can think of is buying a Harry Potter book and reading it to your kids.

          As one of my old bosses used to say so frequently, "Fuck you, sue me."

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Mister Whirly (964219)
            "As one of my old bosses used to say so frequently, "Fuck you, sue me."

            Which is great advice unless your boss is Dog [tvsquad.com] the Bounty [foxnews.com] Hunter. [nwsource.com]
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Jurily (900488)

            The closest example I can think of is buying a Harry Potter book and reading it to your kids.

            I wonder if they'd sue you for torture as well.

        • by essinger (781940) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @12:51PM (#26814461)
          You are missing the point that Amazon is selling the works as both text and audio when they have a contract to only sell text. That Amazon is touting the Kindles ability to translate text to audio as a reason to buy the Kindle demonstrates that Amazon thinks they are selling you something in addition to text. The authors do not a problem with the reader translating a book aloud, but they have a problem with someone they have a contract with to sell text-only versions of a work (and with whom they have separate audio version contracts) selling text plus audio versions. It is a contract issue.
          • by russotto (537200) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @01:07PM (#26814781) Journal

            The authors do not a problem with the reader translating a book aloud, but they have a problem with someone they have a contract with to sell text-only versions of a work (and with whom they have separate audio version contracts) selling text plus audio versions. It is a contract issue.

            There's no issue. If I have a contract which allows me to sell frozen burritos, but not ready-to-eat burritos, selling frozen burritos along with a microwave (which turns them into ready-to-eat burritos) doesn't violate the contract.

          • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @01:29PM (#26815195)

            Be that as it may, I'd like to put the problem at the point where someone decided to sell separate text and audio contracts in an age where speech synthesis is common place. In other words, the contract is wrong to begin with.

          • by sampson7 (536545) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @02:37PM (#26816307)
            The Guild may actually have the more "just" position. Authors, with the exception of that rare 1 percent of best sellers, are not particularly well compensated. They do it because they love the profession and have some uncomfortable compulsion that makes them write, despite a average hourly salary measure in pennies.

            Currently, a mid-level author has several payment streams potentially -- one from the books themselves and one from audio recordings. The Kindle threatens to eliminate one of those payment streams. Will the world really be better off if writers get paid less than they already are?

            I think the Guild is doing exactly what any membership organization should do -- advocate for its members.
          • by orclevegam (940336) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @02:56PM (#26816653) Journal
            Fist, since someone made a smart ass remark about it, IANAL, this is not legal advice, if you make legal decisions based on what you read on the internet you are officially a moron, ask a lawyer, yada yada yada.

            You are missing the point that Amazon is selling the works as both text and audio when they have a contract to only sell text. That Amazon is touting the Kindles ability to translate text to audio as a reason to buy the Kindle demonstrates that Amazon thinks they are selling you something in addition to text.

            But they aren't selling the works as audio. At no point do you receive an audio copy from Amazon. What you receive is a text copy which is what they have the contract to sell. It's the end consumer, the one with the kindle who is converting that text version into a audio version (on the fly I believe, so no fixed form, and therefore not covered by copyright law) not Amazon. Amazon is not responsible for what the consumer does with the product after it's sold, and unless you can figure out some way to argue that text-to-speech software is illegal or that its primary purpose is copyright violation (putting it in violation of the DMCA) there's nothing illegal about the kindle. Amazon is selling two products (for the purposes of this discussion), the first is a ebook reader that has build in text-to-speech support, and the second is ebooks. Amazon has contracts to sell the ebooks, and therefore can do so legally. The kindle so far as I know, is also perfectly legal (and if it isn't, there's probably a whole bunch more hardware and/or software that's also illegal). Furthermore, the user has the right to space shift the ebook they purchase (at least in the US, apparently in the UK they don't) so that's fine to. So, unless Amazon is actually allowing users to download mp3s or wavs or whatever of the ebooks they purchase I don't see anyway in which you could argue they're violating copyright.

      • by eln (21727) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:46AM (#26813275) Homepage

        IANAL, but I'd imagine the purpose of the read out loud right is to protect playwrights from having people perform their plays without permission or compensation. In that context, it makes sense. In the context of a text to speech computer intended for personal use, it makes no sense.

        Sure, if someone starts hooking their Kindle up to a PA system and staging public performances of an electronic reading of someone's book, I could see an issue. However, the device itself having the ability to read text back is not in itself any kind of violation. Computers have had text to speech in some form for decades, and I'm sure they've been used to "speak" copyrighted works plenty of times in the past.

        The Author's Guild is cutting off its nose to spite its face here.

      • by drakaan (688386)
        ...at bedtime. Well, my 5-year-old will (she can't read yet). Even my 9-year-old likes it when I read stories to them at bedtime. Little did I know that it was a criminal act...
      • by Xest (935314) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:53AM (#26813407)

        Nope, I couldn't see that they should change at all.

        Millions of kids read their kids bed time stories, many elderly people like to have stories read to them, why should a machine doing it suddenly require a whole new licensing regime? Or if this is already illegal then there's already something severely messed up with the laws surrounding written works.

        They should be happy, it means blind people can also now buy books and get some use out of them.

      • by pacinpm (631330) <pacinpm&gmail,com> on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @12:15PM (#26813777)
        I think many of Slashdotters miss the point. I get it like this: 1) there are two types of channels text and audio 2) if Amazon buys a right to distribute a book as text this does not give them right to distribute it as audio 3) introducing text2speach makes textbook dangerously close to audiobook 4) they just want Amazon to pay for two licences instead of one 5) this has nothing to do with end user which has all the rights to convert text to speach
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Sloppy (14984)

          But Amazon isn't distributing the book as audio. They're distributing text. The Kindle, in the user's hands, is turning that text into audio, without any distribution happening.

          Amazon just happens to be selling the Kindle, but also sells the text, so it's possible to get confused about what Amazon is doing (the user buys text and experiences audio, so one can mistakenly believe that someone distributed audio to them). If someone else sold Kindles instead of Amazon, then the same situation (user buys text

      • by CarpetShark (865376) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @12:31PM (#26814043)

        What is the purpose of the "read out loud" right?

        Three reasons spring to mind:

        * Discrimination against blind users
        * Disregard for fair use in copyright law
        * Dinosaur-like worldviews
        * Dinosaur-like brains

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mikael (484)

        What is the purpose of the "read out loud" right?

        For disabled people with partial or no sight. For someone who is partially sighted and paralyzed, putting on a set of headphones might not be an option. Hardware manufacturers are encouraged (if not required) to make their systems usable for disabled people. A "kindle" might be the perfect system for a blind person - lightweight, easy to carry about, easy to use controls and the ability to convert text-to-speech. Of course, all of this might just put the cas

      • by jellomizer (103300) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @01:28PM (#26815161)

        As someone with Dyslexia and cannot easily follow a straight line with my eyes. Reading books for any long period of time is very exhausting to me. Using text to speech even the old ones, is very helpful to let me get the information from the book.
        I am fine reading reference or quick lookup for information but for books it very stressful. Having something like the kindle that speaks the text would be a good feature for people like me. And it is not a performance it is a handycap device. That allows information to go into my minds eye. A performance is skipping the minds eye step and giving the persons perception, of the information in the way they want it to be perceived.

      • by greg_barton (5551) * <greg_barton@noSpam.yahoo.com> on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @01:29PM (#26815191) Homepage Journal

        What happens, however when the tech gets so good that it can read with emotion...

        By that logic, all performances by Keanu Reeves are not derivitive works.

        Woah.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by telchine (719345)

      I forbid such usage- and deny you the ablity to read this comment out loud to your friends either.

      As a Microsoft Preffered Partner, I understand this situation. How much will it cost me for the rights to read things out. Also, how far should I bend over?

    • by onion2k (203094) * on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:22AM (#26812885) Homepage

      what is the Authors' Guild actually trying to do here?

      Make more money for the Authors' Guild. This has absolutely nothing to do with authors, writers, publishers, editors, or anyone who reads books. This is solely the money-grabbing greed of Paul Aiken and his cronies. If I were an employee of the guild I would be so ashamed of Aiken's comments I'd resign. This man, despite his apparent position representing authors, is actually against people enjoying books.

      • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:31AM (#26813027)
        They're all against consumption.

        The RIAA wants you to enjoy their music by yourself, but not let others share the enjoyment.
        The MPAA wants you to watch their movies, but pay per viewing and only where it lets you.
        The Authors Guild wants you to read their books, but only to yourself, and if you enjoy them, tell your friends to buy them, but don't tell them why.

        The Lord of War wants you to shoot bullets at people for as long as you can buy them. You don't even have to hit anything. Just keep buying.
        • by gnick (1211984) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:42AM (#26813209) Homepage

          The Author's Guild has me over a barrel. 2-4 books a day (2 at nap time if I'm home and another couple before bed). Man, I never realized that reading Dr Seuss to my 3-year-old would be such a nightmare in terms of derivative rights and royalties.

          Even though I've been doing this daily for years, does it help me at all that he's yet to give me any kind of financial compensation for it?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by truthsearch (249536)

        Make more money for the Authors' Guild. This has absolutely nothing to do with authors, writers, publishers, editors, or anyone who reads books. This is solely the money-grabbing greed of Paul Aiken and his cronies.

        You clearly have no understanding of what the Authors' Guild is. It's merely an organization to represent it's member authors. The AG makes no more or less money however many books are sold or in any format. Members pay their flat dues and that's it.

        The AG clearly feels they are representing what their members want. That may or may not be correct, but it has nothing to do with the organization's finances or any cronyism.

    • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:22AM (#26812893) Homepage Journal

      "They don't have the right to read a book out loud," said Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild. "That's an audio right, which is derivative under copyright law."

      I'm sitting here thinking that no lawyer could possibly be dumb enough to advise their client with this legal theory. Even if we accept this concept at face value (which it does have some value related to public performances and derivitive works), fair use throws a huge monkey wrench into any potential lawsuits. Courts have repeatedly held up that once you are sold a copy of a product, you are entititled to privately do whatever you want with it. That includes space and time shifting. Text to speech is just another type of space shifting. i.e. Moving from one medium to another.

      Then I realized that there's no way Mr. Aiken is serious about these threats. He's posturing in an attempt to force Amazon to rethink the text-to-speech in light of their audio book business. This becomes especially clear based on the response from an Amazon spokesperson:

      An Amazon spokesman noted the text-reading feature depends on text-to-speech technology, and that listeners won't confuse it with the audiobook experience. Amazon owns Audible, a leading audiobook provider.

      So never fear! The world isn't quite upside down yet. This is just business as usual. Someone's trying to play a weak hand and hopes the other side folds. (Good luck with that.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by anss123 (985305)

      Do you hear the sound of the words echo through your head as you read words, like me? Well, as the copyright owner of this comment, I forbid such usage- and deny you the ablity to read this comment out loud to your friends either.

      So no more bed time stories?

    • by tritonman (998572) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:24AM (#26812923)
      I can only imagine what impact this has on the world of 508 software, which is used to read stuff to the blind. I guess the author's guild don't give a rats ass about blind people.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:39AM (#26813149)

        If I am not mistaken copyright law in most countries holds exceptions for disabled people, they can use "translated" versions without paying extra.
        Translated versions would for example be text to speech, but also the still ubiquitos braille.

      • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @12:30PM (#26814031)

        You have no idea.

        When looking for schoolbooks for the severely dyslexic little brother of a friend we tried looking for audio books. Turned out there was an organisation which used to deal with that here. Notice "was".

        For schoolbooks which had no audio book available from the publisher they'd got teachers who volunteered to record audio books for blind students.

        Guess what the publishers thought of that.

        Now they aren't allowed hand out recordings to blind students and the publishers aren't interested in making or distributing any since the market is so small.

        As far as rights holders are concerned the disabled can go fuck themselves.

    • by zotz (3951) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:24AM (#26812929) Homepage Journal

      "To hell with all of them. I'll read quietly, or out loud when ever I please. And just for being assholes, I'm going to pirate the next book published by a guild author. And I'm going to listen to Microsoft Sam read it to me. And I'm going to pretend to like it."

      It might hit them harder if you gave your attention instead to people who respected you more.

      drew
      --
      http://zotz.kompoz.com/ [kompoz.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rolfwind (528248)

      The major problem with this suit is that Amazon isn't producing audio books of other people's works and selling them as derivative works. It's letting people access the content they paid for in a different way.

      This lawsuit deserves to fail and the author's guild should pay the legal fees of amazon and the court as well for this idiocy.

    • by FooAtWFU (699187) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:32AM (#26813057) Homepage
      Spend the $.41 or whateverit'satthesedays for a stamp and scribble down a short note telling them to get Aiken to STFU.

      The Authors Guild
      31 East 32nd Street, 7th Floor
      New York, NY 10016

    • by EatHam (597465) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:50AM (#26813347)

      Do you hear the sound of the words echo through your head as you read words, like me?

      No, and I don't move my lips while reading either. I read substantially faster than I can talk. But not faster than a woman can talk.

    • by faloi (738831) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @12:05PM (#26813585)
      I went and looked at the member website list [authorsguild.org] of the Authors Guild, and on a quick inspection it looks like I'd have to go out of my way to actually be infringing one of their books. Obviously people with different tastes in books might run into them more often, but this seems like even more of a bad idea on their part than normal.
    • by Inda (580031) <slash.20.inda@spamgourmet.com> on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @12:45PM (#26814361) Journal
      I have different voices for each writter. And, by the way, you have the worse Scotish accent I've ever read.
  • by tsalmark (1265778) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:16AM (#26812769) Homepage
    Shes going to be pissed.
  • Hogwash (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fyngyrz (762201) * on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:17AM (#26812775) Homepage Journal

    Sometimes I read a portion of a book out loud - to myself - in order to slow down my thought processes. It is akin, I think, to taking notes when being lectured. The act of reading out loud alters both the rate and the quality of my understanding of the text.

    Which, according to Paul Aiken, means I'm a criminal.

    Speaking as the owner of one of the oldest SF-specialized literary agencies in the country, and as someone who is quite interested in protecting author's rights for all the obvious reasons, I think Aiken has fallen off the cognitive cliff, and that he does no one - not authors, not consumers, not publishers - any favors by pushing this over-the-top interpretation of what an "audio performance" is.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:18AM (#26812809)
    I'm pretty sure the blind have been using this sort of software for years, in fact I'm sure of it [wikipedia.org]. Are they also going to threaten Apple and all the other software vendors who supply this much-needed resource for the blind? Did they even *think* about the deeper implications of what they're saying before firing the opening volley in what is, at its heart, a blatantly pissy money grab?
    • by mea37 (1201159) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:43AM (#26813221)

      When I was in high school, the director of our AV department waged a protracted battle with me over my making enlarged copies of sheet music in the orchestra. Never mind that this was a matter of vision accessability. Never mind that the school had allocated me a legitimately-purchased original, just as they did for each other student. Never mind that academic fair use would have been squarely in play even if the above hadn't been true, and certainly never mind that the law specifically forbade the reasoning behind his theory as to why fair use shouldn't apply.

      I probably should've sued the district, but that's not how I roll.

      My point, though, is this: There are indeed a subset of the population that believe content authors should have the right to profit from the fact that some customers have differing needs in how they can view said content. "You can't buy the regular edition and adapt it to your needs; you have to buy the special high-priced usable-by-you edition (if we bother to make one)".

  • by rolfwind (528248) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:19AM (#26812831)

    All this revolves around are audio books sales. Forget the fact that right now synthesized text to speech is painful to listen vs a human voice, this is just another case of technology slowly making one industry obsolete.

    They might as well sue teachers or those libraries that offer children's programs by reading a book out loud.

    They say nothing makes more problems than solutions, and I feel the concept of intellectual property taking this to extreme.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Joe U (443617)

      Forget the fact that right now synthesized text to speech is painful to listen vs a human voice

      Coming up next, "Moby Dick" as read by GlaDOS.

  • Voice Web Browsers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by footnmouth (665025) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:20AM (#26812849) Homepage
    Does this meant that my blind friends who use JAWS to read websites are breaking the law or infringing copyrights? Another excuse for a lawsuit or settlement...
  • by Almonday (564768) * on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:20AM (#26812853)
    So waitaminute...by Aiken's logic, wouldn't screen readers and other accessibility tools fall under this category as well? That's a losing battle if ever I've seen one...urm, heard one.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by fastfinge (823794)

      It's a battle we've already lost. Go to:
      http://www.fictionwise.com/ [fictionwise.com]
      and check any of the books by major publishers. If you scroll down a little, you see: "printing disabled. read aloud disabled." DRM is already used to do this. And bypassing the DRM is against the law. I suspect the Authors want Amazon to put DRM that will allow publishers to turn off the TTS feature.

  • by LoyalOpposition (168041) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:20AM (#26812857)

    Also, there will be a small royalty charge for moving your lips as you read. This has two benefits. There will be fewer people moving their lips as they read. And there will be fewer people reading.

    -Loyal

  • by RichMan (8097) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:21AM (#26812871)

    Before the days of IT technology producing sound from text required a performance.

    Now sound from text is a programmed translation. No more different or complex than the rendering of the book PDF information on the screen.

    Welcome to the information age. Data is data and rendering translations are done all over the place, ascii to display bits. HTML to display. GIF, JPEG to images, MPEG to sound, MPEG to video. ascii, pdf or html to sound is no more difficult or complex. Just a little newer.

  • by visualight (468005) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:24AM (#26812927) Homepage

    Do people buy both? I've always thought people bought one or the other. Long haul truckers and blind people buy audio versions, and others buy the written versions. I don't think Kindle will change that.

    I can see people taking advantage of this, like someone listening instead of reading while cleaning the house or something, but that person would probably never think to buy an audio version of the book. I can't see there being enough lost sales to care.

  • by david.emery (127135) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:27AM (#26812975)

    In the immortal words of Al Gore: Do they have a "controlling legal authority" for that interpretation of copyright law, or is this just a legal posture, that is not supported by law or precedent?

    dave

  • by Fzz (153115) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:33AM (#26813083)
    The Authors Guild today filed suit under the DMCA against the New York Public Library for allowing readers to shine light onto the pages of books. "The electric lights in the public reading room permit the words printed on the page to be copied onto the retina of the library's readers", said Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild. "We equipped all our books with covers as a way to prevent just this sort of illegal copying. The electric lights are a way to circumvent our copy protection mechanism and therefore are illegal under the DMCA."

    Rumor has it that if they are successful, the Authors Guild will next file suit against God for providing a source of light outside in daytime.

  • by Joe U (443617) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:34AM (#26813091) Homepage Journal

    Same authors guild who want a royalty on all used book sales?

    Guys, do the world a favor, go play in traffic.

  • by goodmanj (234846) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:37AM (#26813125)

    Ladies and gentlemen! A full-contact legal battle for the ages!

    In this corner, we have the Author's Guild, with the full weight of American copyright law behind them.

    And in this corner, we've got the National Federation for the Blind, swinging a big stick: the Americans with Disabilities Act!

    Gentlemen ... FIGHT!

  • by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:42AM (#26813203) Journal
    but I would like to articulate something that I do believe expresses my feeling and the feelings of many other people on this little green planet of books in regard to the Author's Guild and their lawsuit per the article,

    and that sentiment is:

    FUCK OFF, YOU GREEDY STUPID ASSHOLES!

    have a nice day.

    RS

  • by HikingStick (878216) <z01riemer&hotmail,com> on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:42AM (#26813205)
    How do they respond to the ADA and various regulations that mandate things like designing websites so that they can be read by screen readers? How's this any different from that? Just think--millions and millions of parents are now copyright infringers for reading "Goodnight Moon" or "The Cat in the Hat" to their kids!
  • It is copying... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mr. Picklesworth (931427) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @11:52AM (#26813393) Homepage

    In reality, any consumption of media is duplication.
    If it passes through a computer it is being copied between different types of memory.
    If someone reads it, he is going to learn it. That person is likely to pass on what he learns. If he creates a book of his own on the subject, that person will effectively be duplicating what he read, possibly with easier to understand writing.

    Duplication is a fact of life now because it's So Damn Easy; it is a concept inherent in our technology and our social habits. It would be harder Not to duplicate. *Strange innuendo is not intentional*

    Here is yet another group of 19th-century bozos who need to stop being lazy and recognize the fact that technological innovation does not stop for their feebly assembled copyright laws. As long as they play the destructive lawyer game they will gain nothing of value.

  • by brunes69 (86786) <`slashdot' `at' `keirstead.org'> on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @12:04PM (#26813583) Homepage

    If the copyright claim is based on a public performance, then the person who must be sued in the lawsuit is the performer, because they are the ones infringing on the copyright. In this case, the performer is the kindle itself.

    If the kindle is the performer, as an entity without legal status, then the responsible party would be the owner of the entity, in this case, the customer. NOT Amazon.

  • Seriously? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @12:08PM (#26813641)
    How are we expected to take organizations like this seriously when they make claims like this? I mean, really?! So blind people who use text-to-speech software in order to "read" books have been breaking the law?
  • Neil Gaiman (Score:4, Informative)

    by macaddict (91085) on Wednesday February 11, 2009 @07:02PM (#26820467)

    Neil Gaiman has expressed his opinion of this issue in his blog. [neilgaiman.com]

    My point of view: When you buy a book, you're also buying the right to read it aloud, have it read to you by anyone, read it to your children on long car trips, record yourself reading it and send that to your girlfriend etc. This is the same kind of thing, only without the ability to do the voices properly, and no-one's going to confuse it with an audiobook. And that 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.

"I got everybody to pay up front...then I blew up their planet." "Now why didn't I think of that?" -- Post Bros. Comics

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