According To Author's Guild, You Cannot Read Books Out Loud
from the player-pianos-anyone? dept
As you may know, when player pianos were first introduced, there was a massive fear among musicians that it would be the death of the live music industry. With a player piano, why would anyone ever need to go see a live performance again? In fact, the roots of our rather draconian modern copyright law come, in part, from this dispute. You can see it time and time again, as each new technology comes along, someone freaks out, demands an extra layer of gov’t granted rights (and often a compulsory license) and only later discovers that these “threats” were really opportunities all along.
The latest such example comes from an absolutely extraordinary statement from Paul Aitken, the executive director of the Authors Guild, upon hearing that the new Amazon Kindle has an experimental text-to-speech factor. Rather than think about how this feature might expand readership, he immediately insisted that it’s illegal to use it:
“They don’t have the right to read a book out loud. That’s an audio right, which is derivative under copyright law.”
By that reasoning pretty much any use of text-to-speech software is illegal, which would make for a fascinating legal case. And, actually, if you take that reasoning further, any reading outloud from a book that is not yours is also a violation of copyright law, according to Aitken. Read to your kids at night? Watch out for the Authors Guild police banging down your door. I would think that in purchasing a book, some of the associated rights that come along with it are the right to either read it aloud or have someone else read it aloud to you, but perhaps we’ll soon be hearing about a special new “text-to-speech” right with a special compulsory license that will add a nice little extra charge to every book you buy. In the meantime, who put the Luddites in charge of the Authors Guild?
Filed Under: authors guild, books, copyright, kindle, paul aitken, text-to-speech
Comments on “According To Author's Guild, You Cannot Read Books Out Loud”
“Read to your kids at night? Watch out for the Authors Guild police banging down your door.“
Shhhh! Don’t give them any ideas!
Day care centers already have to buy a license in order to show videos to the children, under the premise that it’s a “public performance”.
If this guy is right then maybe he’ll insist that day care centers buy a license if they want to read books to the children.
Libraries hold book readings for children too.
“I would think that in purchasing a book, some of the associated rights”
This is your mistake. “purchasing”
You do not purchase a book. You acquire only a licensing right subject to the EULA printed in the front cover of the book.
Amearicans with Dissablitys act
Isent text to speech already covered with the ADA act? IE blind people? How do you take away a blind persons right to interact with the world and then offer to sell it back to them?
Re: Amearicans with Dissablitys act
Nope, wrong, FAIL. The rights he is referring to are audio RECORDING rights. Verbal speech is NOT covered under any contract or copyright law I have ever seen in regards to book publishing. Sorry, take your fascist, bootheel stamping garbage somewhere else.
Why would the Authors Guild want to let an annoying little fact like that get in their way? They’re taking their cues from the likes of the RIAA, MPAA, ASCAP, BMI, et al.
Then why is he mentioning those rights? There is no audio recording involved. So this is either stupid, or dumb. Take your pick.
Author book signings
So, I was at a book signing the other day where the author sat and read extracts from the book.
Is this guy actually suggesting that the author should pay himself for the right to read aloud his own work?
Re: Author book signings
No, but he better pay his publisher, who likely has an exclusive on, if not outright ownership of, the copyright. Damn those thieving writers for selling more copies of their books!
Re: Author book signings
No, in fact, he probably owes his publisher royalties.
One more thing I used to enjoy doing, reading to my kids is now illegal. hope the book reading police don’t come knocking at my door.
Seriously does this means that all the school and the libraries will have cease and desist letters sent in the event of story time ?
So kids books should have a ....
shrink-wrap license for the performance rights, so that parents are not raising their kids to life of crime?
Thanks for Ignoring the Visually Handicapperdf+
Thanks for Ignoring the Visually Handicapped
(I think this got submitted before I finished!)
I was elated when I saw that Kindle 2 had text-to-speech built in. I am visually handicapped and thought that would be great, but now this nutjob comes along and says it’s illegal. Thanks so much for your insight… you’re an idiot.
Audio rights is not "reading aloud"
This is not about reading to your kids at night, it’s about audio rights, part of the bundle of rights an author has in his/her book.
What will be interesting, assuming it goes to court if it goes that far, is if by selling content for a dedicated devise that is designed to produce an audio version is considered actual “production” of an audio version under the terms of the copyright act.
Text-to-Speech is permitted in producing books for the visually disabled, no matter who has the audio rights.
Read Out Loud & Kindle
Interesting that the Writer’s Guild would come up with this. The Adobe program on my computer also has a ‘Read Out Loud’ aspect. I never use it because it is flawed with mispronounced words, emotionless diction and a male voice that sounds like a robot. Will Kindle have these features?
As an author of both print and ebooks, I am not offended if someone purchases my book and chooses to listen to it. Infact, IMHO this opens my work to readers/listeners that may have missed it before.
Parnormal romance Author
Feed Your Romantic Spirit ~ Indulge in the Magic!
CONCENTRIC CIRCLES (available on Kindle & in print)
The DRM applies to digital reproduction. Voice isn’t even analog.
The ‘read aloud’ function for e-books was given the legal thumbs up for sight impaired people, so this Guild can go pound sand.
Sorry, Kindle, but you simply have to tell all your vision-impaired customers to suck it.
Someone's missing something...
…there is a world of difference between text-to-speech and an audiobook recording. The one does not actually replace the other, although it’s certainly better than nothing.
In Fact, This Is Probably Legal
As a completely blind person who purchases ebooks regularly from fictionwise.com, restricting the ability to have books produced in text to speech is both legal and done all the time. If you view any book on fictionwise.com, and scroll down the page a bit, you will sometimes see something like:
“Microsoft Reader (LIT) Format: Printing DISABLED, Read-Aloud DISABLED
Adobe Acrobat (PDF) Format: Printing DISABLED, Read-Aloud DISABLED
All Other formats: Printing DISABLED, Read-aloud DISABLED”
If you are a blind reader, in order to legally read your ebook, you must make sure that read-aloud is set to enabled on at least one format. Apparently, the DMCA/copyright law effectively trump the ADA. What I wonder is: by read-aloud, does fictionwise exclusively mean TTS software, or does it mean that anyone who purchases the ebook isn’t allowed to read it? If I buy an ebook with read-aloud disabled, can I ask Mike to read it to me?
Re: In Fact, This Is Probably Legal
Copyright law specifically carves out an exception for producing books (braille, audio) for visually impaired readers.
Re: In Fact, This Is Probably Legal
Piracy trumps both.
Citizens are under a civil obligation to protest unjust laws by refusing to obey them. So get your books for free, in formats that work for you.
text to speech is not audio
There should be a difference between text to speech programs and an audio of a book. An audio book has someone reading the text who knows how to read out loud and enhances the text. A text to speech is a programmed conversion of words to speech. If Amazon is employing James Earl Jones to sit in a room and read a book out loud every time someone makes a word to speech request they may be in trouble but since it’s a souless computer program what’s the fuss?
No need for copyright or IP laws
The resource-based economy quickly goes to work on clean sources of energy. This is only possible when there are no more monetary limitations in the way of accomplishing or providing what’s needed. With the restrictions of profit, property, and scarcity eliminated, research labs would quickly begin working together and sharing information freely. There would be no need for patents or proprietary information since the end goal is not to make money in order to continue working, but to achieve results that are
freely and quickly available to the planet’s entire population.
What about the rights of physically challenged people?
If this does become an issue in the courts and the Author’s Guild is triumphant, then what about disability laws? Are we supposed to tell a blind person that they can never again hear a book that doesn’t have an associated “audio right.” Instead of being about how much money you can squeeze from a creative work by never having anything drop into the public domain, maybe everyone needs to remember that the intended purpose of copyright law was supposed to protect the creator’s creation for a LIMITED time and create and atmosphere where knowlege was eventually shared.
you realize that by REMEMBERING the book you just read quietly to yourself, technically you have RECORDED it in your neurons? you now owe the authors mafia..sorry i mean guild eleven squillion bazillion dollars…thats $1 per neuron……
so, techdirt. I am blind. as a blind person, may i use text to speech to read your website? 😛
Techdirt releases all articles into the public domain and deny any right to their work.
do whatever the hell you want with it.
Audio books have been around for years without problems who needs a kindle?
the difference between TTS and audio rights
The real point of the Author Guild’s comments is the legal issue of whether text-to-speech and audio rights are the same thing. This hasn’t been clarified in court, and until it is, authors and publishers are afraid that by allowing TTS through the Kindle or any other reader, they are losing their audio rights.
Right now, many of the major audio book companies won’t touch a book that has TTS so publishers are blocking TTS via DRM.
This situation is a good thing for the disabled and other readers because once this issue is settled, probably in favor of TTS and audio rights being different things, TTS will be allowed on all electronic books.
There are others who are handicapped by illiteracy and other mental maladies that make it difficult if not impossible to enjoy literature. Such idiodic ideas hender those in our society better themselves.
But then, that’s just my opinion…
Derivative, Recording and Performance, Oh My!
There is no derivative. A derivative needs to be substantially different yet based upon the original work. Strike one.
There isn’t any physical copy of the audio before or after the book is being read. If the audio is not set in some type of medium, there can be no recording rights issue.
Performance rights only come into play if it’s performed in public. Listening to a kindle or reading a book out loud in a public park could be infringement if you have an audience. Even then it’s not the kindle but you performing it for an audience in public that would be illegal.
It’s that new turning point for another industry isn’t it! The publishing world are getting used to a new world with e-books and at the moment, for wont of a better phrase, they are bricking it.
However, some are reacting, I’ve noticed one publisher has set up Book Army to bring authors and readers together, promote e-books and much more…it will be interesting to see if they kick off at all, and indeed how the e-book market develops. The whole notion of a kindle reading out stuff kind of disgusts me in someways – no. 1 you are no longer reading it, no. 2 it would be very annoying on public transport without headphones! Then again, is that any different to audiobooks? The answer is no.
It’s all very complicated!
replying to the right
What a silly right Aitken had mentioned. If you stop people from ROL our futur education will be a mess. Reporter won’t have any talking practice for there show, soon they will talk like a moron with a fade pronounsation. Talking is something needed and importantly a correct pronounsation. I hope you authorities rethink about this decision.
P.S. My english is bad cause it is our lag of education from Bonaire. I hope you reader understand my point. Thanks alot 😛 Ciao
huj n yjbh yi jjn nu
“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers” – The Bard
Get it right!
Please go read copyright law before writing silly articles. Look at the definition of public performance and you will see that you can safely read to your own children.
A lot of fuss about nothing. Text to speach though is a different matter and the AG are right to raise questions. It needs clarifying.
Actually, fascism would LOVE to make it illegal to read books aloud. They weren’t fond of books, but they were quite fond of law. They burned books very often. Fascism is just another form of socialism, like communism. IT is centered around the state, rather than the feds, but still very central in its own way.
The thing you are calling fascism (Libertarianism) promotes less law and the only resemblance to fascism it carries is the preference to state law over federal law. This is also different however, as state law in fascism is extremely strict, whereas in Libertarianism, state law is meant to be loose so that the smallest level of community can govern itself without interference, like city government, or even as small a unit as a family.
Reading a book and recording it and posting it on Facebook
I want to know if it’s legal to record my voice reading a book and share/post the audio on my Facebook page………?
Similar to Clare but on YouTube
I’ve actually been doing some video readings of books on YouTube, ones I personally wrote and other authors wrote. I did get permission from an author, considering the one I wrote had some similarities to a series he had done. The other, well, she’s been dead for 30 years, counting 2015.
I am only wondering, though. Do we still need consent from the publishers, even after the author’s been dead for 10+ years? I want to read another author’s work, but nervous to do so.
holy crap hahahaha!!!! You think historical and political mentions of ‘the State’ is talking about -US States-?! That is hilariously dumb! ‘The State’ is a generalized description applied to -any federal jurisdiction. (Hence England, Germany, France, and pretty much every western nation using that phrase) Fascism, unlike your extremely infantile description, is an authoritarian regime based around strict control of life ‘for the betterment of the state’ that they want to believe will reduce crime, increase individual happiness and prosperity, and be more effective than the “laissez-faire attitude afflicting other countries.” (Of course, this itself is an extremely broad and simplified view, and to fully understand it and its implications for everything economical, political, psychological, et al takes a great effort. You can’t even begin to truly know why it came about, why people wanted, what its core tenets are, and what its mission was without an enormous effort put into studying it that is definitely greater than listening to idiots share their retarded misinformed viewpoints on am radio or fox news or whatever isn’t considered ‘Fake News. WRONG’.
is it ok to make audio book just for oneself to listen to?
is it ok to make audio book just for oneself to listen to?
text to speech is not audio
So, by this reasoning, it’s the quality of the work that defines copyright? Frankly, that’s idiotic.
Shouldn’t it be the commercialization of that recording, be it by computer or by “someone reading the text who knows how to read out loud?”
If a production is made for commercial gain– ie. sold to the public– then copyright should come into play, and the author should be due a royalty on each copy. If I read a book out loud, even if I record it and distribute it to others for free and with no intention to profit from the work, then it shouldn’t be subject to copyright anymore or any less than the “text to speech” function. Or, rather, as I believe is true under US copyright law, the copyright holder should retain the right to sue for 100% of the profit made by my recording which, in this case, is zero.
Need non copy write material for teaching english as a second language Hi, I am
Hi, I am an ESL English teacher, need listen and read English articles, so I can improve my students reading. Can you send me some? Specialy for mid English levels.
Oops. Looks like Moses is in trouble for invoking prior art
Exodus 24:7New International Version (NIV)
7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey.”
I wondered about the same thing. But does anybody here know that the Authors Guild has a website where famous actors read book aimed a children? How do they circumvent that?