Will The Authors Guild Freak Out About Text To Speech On The iPad?

from the yakety-yak dept

When the second generation Kindle ebook reader launched with a text-to-speech functionality, the Authors Guild freaked out, claiming that this violated a totally made up on the spot aspect of copyright law. Plenty of copyright lawyers dissected this claim in great detail and concluded that the Authors Guild was making up stories about how they wanted copyright law to act, rather than paying attention to what copyright law actually said. There simply is no copyright violation in having a computer read a book aloud to you. However, after the Authors Guild ratcheted up the threats, Amazon finally caved and let authors choose to block the text-to-speech functionality.

Now, with the iPad coming out, some are noticing that it, too, contains such text-to-speech capabilities, and yet oddly, we haven’t heard complaints from the Authors Guild (found via Copycense). Have they come to their senses, or have they just not realized it yet?

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Companies: amazon, apple, authors guild

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Comments on “Will The Authors Guild Freak Out About Text To Speech On The iPad?”

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Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Haven't realized

I think they haven’t realized it yet. They don’t seem like the brightest bunch. Wait until somebody starts shouting about how great it is to be able to listen to books. Then they will freak out about the progress we are making towards having better lives and freak out that they aren’t being paid.
Then will come the lawsuits.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Haven't realized

Agreed. What’s funny is that I was just looking into T2S software, particularly any free/open source options, so that I could throw what I’ve written at it and hear a crude example of what it would sound like if it were an audiobook.

More importantly, one of the things writers know is that the best way to determine if the dialogue you’ve written is any good is to hear it aloud. Normally this means either saying it aloud yourself, which is the worst of the options, or having family/friends read it aloud as if you were reciting lines in a play. But if the voice inflection and modulation is any good on this software, as in if it doesn’t sound like a speak and spell, this could be a GREAT tool for authors to use.

Let’s hope the AG doesn’t take a big steamy shit on this the way they have in the past….

davec says:

This is how Apple describes the text to speech feature:

iBooks works with VoiceOver, the screen reader in iPad, so it can read you the contents of any page.

It’s interesting that they chose to say “any page.” I’m guessing that the text-to-speech is limited to the current page rather than ‘start reading and stop when I say to’. If you want to hear the next page you will need to go to the next page and start the text-to-speech again.

Hopefully I’m wrong.

JackOfShadows (profile) says:


Well, I hope they have deeeeep pockets and go after M$ first. I’ve been using Microsoft Reader pretty much since it came out (2003?) and the first thing you notice on the page after the text is the text to speech reader at the bottom. As these things go, it’s not that bad. Mi Amiga was much better, but…. Given that I’m facing total paralysis in the not too distant future, text to speech as well as voice-command and speech to text are important considerations here which is why I now restrict any documentation or literature downloads to something that I can feed to an adequete narrator or convert (thanks MS for the free Word to .LIT converter).

Two final questions. One: I wonder how long the statute of limitations is on copyright infringement if copyright or other infringement this is? Two: If I feed a book to Office (no conversion) and have it narrate it to me, does that violate the DMCA vis-a-vis cirvumvention?

Some Dude says:

Yesterday I told a sever dyslexic person the iPad will have text to speech for books and she nearly cried with joy. She has never been able to read an entire book dude to her condition. Now she does not need to sit in front of a computer or carry a laptop just to read a book.
With Apple backing the text to speech, as well as the blind foundation and now dyslexic’s the authors guild would do well to stay quite.

On a side note the spelling of word dyslexic must be a cruel joke for a dyslexic person to spell.

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