Amazon Gives In To Ridiculous Authors Guild Claim: Allows Authors To Block Text-To-Speech

from the and-here's-how-we-shoot-ourselves-in-the-foot dept

Well here's an unfortunate surprise. Following the ridiculous claims of the Authors Guild that automated reading aloud of ebooks using text-to-speech software is a violation of copyright, Amazon has agreed to back down and make the TTS feature optional on a per-book basis. The company issued a statement explaining why it believes that there is no copyright violation at all, but is still making the feature optional:
Kindle 2's experimental text-to-speech feature is legal: no copy is made, no derivative work is created, and no performance is being given. Furthermore, we ourselves are a major participant in the professionally narrated audiobooks business through our subsidiaries Audible and Brilliance. We believe text-to-speech will introduce new customers to the convenience of listening to books and thereby grow the professionally narrated audiobooks business.

Nevertheless, we strongly believe many rights-holders will be more comfortable with the text-to-speech feature if they are in the driver's seat.

Therefore, we are modifying our systems so that rightsholders can decide on a title by title basis whether they want text-to-speech enabled or disabled for any particular title.
While this does, effectively, allow the copyright holders to shoot themselves in the foot yet again, it's disappointing that the company wasn't at least willing to stand up for its right to offer such a feature without needing permission.

Meanwhile, if you don't mind the temptation to bang your head against the wall repeatedly, you can read an interview the Authors Guild's Paul Aiken conducted with Engadget about this whole thing. What's amazing is his inability to even understand how having a computer read aloud a book is no different than a person reading aloud the book or the Kindle reading aloud the book. He seems to think each is a different case that deserves different rights (and, of course, different licenses).


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  1.  
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    some old guy, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 6:28pm

    So now we know...

    "The customer is always right"

    So now we know who amazon thinks is the kindles customer.

    Hint: It's not the people buying the kindle.

     

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  2.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Feb 27th, 2009 @ 6:29pm

    Let that be a lesson

    If anyone thinks that lawsuit settlements define what makes sense, well, here you go...

    Our justice system is aimed at what's cheapest, NOT what's right, just, fitting, and proper.

     

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  3.  
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    Bob V, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 6:35pm

    While the Text to speech voices have come a long way they still don't provide an immersive experience. Having text to speech could be handy at times I suppose, but for a vast majority of people out there I don't think it is a feature that would be used often aside from the novilty. TTS has been a part of the microsoft operating system for years. How many people even know its there. I would be willing to bet not many.

    The real benefit I could see with text to speech for a ebook reader is people with sight disabilities. Audiobooks are expensive comparatively. I love to read and if I lost my eyesight audiobooks would take the place of paper and ebooks. A TTS capable ebook reader would be a nice addition to audiobooks. Its just like going to a movie at a theater is a better expeince compaired to watching at home. You save the theater for the really good ones and watch the rest at home. For the good books you spend for the quality of having an actor read.

    So the way I see it the writers guild wants to screw over the disabled and elderly.

     

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    Brandon, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 6:41pm

    Fools

    And this is why I love my screenreading software for reading on my netbook, and TextAloud for on the go. I can read with TTS, and better TTS than on the Kindle, on a smaller device, any book, blog, site or article on my PC with about 2 hours lead time for a decent size book, and for no cost per book.

     

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  5.  
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    Ernie Oporto (profile), Feb 27th, 2009 @ 6:42pm

    killswitch

    You understand that for them to be able to do this after the product has been released, that the killswitch for TTS was there all along and they anticipated this fight possibly being lost.

    I don't care about TTS, but that that really was quick of Amazon to bow out like that.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Poster, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 6:43pm

    Paul Aiken is an idiot.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 6:51pm

    firmware update?

    The kill switch may not have necessarily been there. It could be something that gets pushed out during a firmware update. With it's built in modem, I wouldn't be overly surprised if it does some sort of OTA firmware updating.

    In any case, TTS sucks. It's all flat and emotionless and still harder to understand than a real person and still tends to misprounouce words too. I will take a good audiobook reading any day.

     

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    Richard (profile), Feb 27th, 2009 @ 6:53pm

    I assume that means...

    that they'll be dropping the price, since they've just (effectively) removed one of the significant features over the Kindle1? I think it's fair to assume that publishers are going to make it opt-in, rather than opt-out, since Amazon has given them a veto...

     

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    Rick, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 7:00pm

    I just cancelled my order.

    I had ordered one today, now I've canceled my order.

    This is ridiculous and it was a feature that was available when I ordered it earlier, in the first place. I'm glad it hadn't shipped yet.

    Oh well...

     

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  10.  
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    shmengie, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 7:14pm

    it's official...

    everyone but me is a douchebag. i am legend!

     

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  11.  
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    Mike M, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 7:17pm

    I'm going to return mine

    I was pretty excited when mine came yesterday. I'm visually impaired, reading is a chore and I tend to "wander off" when listening to audiobooks. I thought the text to speech combined with large fonts would make reading enjoyable again. They substantially changed the Kindle making it potentially useless to me.

     

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    Michael B, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 7:28pm

    Re: I'm going to return mine

    Mike, I'm in the same position you are, except I haven't ordered my Kindle 2 yet, and now I am not going to. Removal of TTS, even just at an author's whim, renders the Kindle 2 useless to me. I, like you, am visually impaired.

    What the Author's Guild doesn't seem to realize is that people don't buy 2 copies of a book, one hard copy and one audiobook. They buy one or the other. They're idiots.

     

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    passing by, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 7:44pm

    What Authors Guild learnt from from RIAA

    1. Suing individuals generates bad publicity.

    2. Nickel-and-diming customers for every incremental feature is a sign of innovative business model.

    3. You don't have to justify your actions, instead keep repeating the same ridiculous arguments again and again till the press and the politicians repeats them for you.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 8:03pm

    fine by me, Ill keep my pennies in my pocket. Screw them!

     

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    Steve R. (profile), Feb 27th, 2009 @ 8:10pm

    Just the Abusrd Begining for Endless Licensing

    Lets see we will probably need separate licenses for a man's voice versus a woman's voice, then what about English versus Spanish? The endless incremental permutations are mind boggling!

     

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  16.  
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    Cardinal Fang, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 8:44pm

    Why cave, Amazon?

    Stick to your guns, sell what you told people you were selling, and whoever doesn't want to play in your sandbox can remain in their dusty corner sticking forks in a live socket, since apparently all writers are this stupid, yeah?

    I'd ask for my guild dues back.

     

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  17.  
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    Griffon, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 9:35pm

    sigh, again?

    Once again we see a tech company rolling over and giving in on innovation to avoid any kind of IP fight. It's just getting sad, this whole needing permission to innovate. Copy right is killing growth in so many places...

     

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  18.  
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    DS, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 9:38pm

    Re: So now we know...

    Yes, that's why they made a hard decision to allow someone to block something, before it gets to the point where the 'other' part does not want to play anymore. Face it, Amazon was screwed either way.

     

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  19.  
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    DS, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 9:43pm

    Re: I just cancelled my order.

    Good, so punish Amazon, and the e-book "publishers" who would allow you to do a text2speech in your protest. You know, the people who are an unwilling victim of this madness. Good for you.

     

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  20.  
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    Helen Keller, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 9:45pm

    I hope someone will use the ADA and sue there eyes out.

     

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  21.  
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    mike42 (profile), Feb 27th, 2009 @ 9:46pm

    Re: Re: I'm going to return mine

    Rather than return your Kindles, you should:

    A. Contact your Attorney General for discrimination charges
    B. Look into a civil suit for discrimination
    C. Contact advocate groups for the visually challenged

    You have a right in the US to access anything a non-visually-challenged person can. Plus, you can easily shame them into removing this stupid killswitch.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 10:10pm

    so basically they said screw the customer and screw a nice section of market(those who are visually impaired) we will decide what we want them to be able to hear and they can either suck it up or screw off and buy some potentially crappy alternative because we are jackasses?

     

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  23.  
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    Dan, Feb 27th, 2009 @ 11:17pm

    While I feel that the Kindle is for the most part frivolous, the text to speech feature would be a of great value to the visually impaired. But I guess the writers guild has no interest or concern for this market segment. If this becomes effective there needs to be a law mandating clear labeling of this restriction and no cost return privileges for the visually impaired on audio restricted books. What a short sighted waste, audio books have the ability to embed sound effects, music integrated with the story both of which could enhance the experience while providing an opportunity for up sell.

     

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  24.  
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    bob, Feb 28th, 2009 @ 12:23am

    Not for me

    Looks like I am not buying a kindle.

     

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  25.  
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    Roy, Feb 28th, 2009 @ 3:54am

    Let there be full disclosure

    I hope Amazon gives a prominent notice of which titles have TTS disabled. Then the market can decide whether to spend money on crippled titles.

     

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  26.  
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    Lucretious, Feb 28th, 2009 @ 4:28am

    Great, in the end the ones that really get screwed are the blind and other visually impaired folks.

    Don't let those blind pricks push you around Authors Guild, you showed 'em good.....

     

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  27.  
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    James Gresham, Feb 28th, 2009 @ 5:38am

    What makes this really hypocritical...

    ...is Aiken's utterly nonsensical justification for not going after TTS on other devices. Hundreds of thousands of books are available in formats accessible from PCs, for example.

    "There's a fundamental difference between a text-to-speech on a general use machine, such as a Mac or a PC, and a dedicated device that is intended primarily for consuming books.

    What's the difference?

    The difference is that there are audio rights involved in the books -- the Kindle converts every book that's sold into something other than just an ebook."

    Sorry? Even if you accept that it is being really converted, rather than just read aloud, a PC TTS app does the exact same thing to every book. Also, Kindle isn't specifically for applying TTS to books - its a general function for anything written, like newspapers and magazines for which audio versions aren't available. So Aiken is talking out of his rear.

    Fine, Amazon - if you don't want to defend your customers, I'm sure there will be plenty of discrimination suits lined up to enable TTS.

    PS: Does Aiken think people who use voice synthesizers should be allowed to read books aloud to their kids?

     

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  28.  
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    Osno, Feb 28th, 2009 @ 6:02am

    I think Amazon is actually doing something right here. If they disable the switch on a title-by-title basis they may be able to show that the same author gets bought more when the TTS functionality is available and that there is a public demand for such a feature that may make the authors more money. If they did nothing (or stood in court), they couldn't have proven this and just have to rely on what the law says (and the judge interprets of that law). They're making a stand for their business choice and being able to test it in a diverse offering market. I understand people may be pissed off, but I think that's exactly what Amazon wanted.

     

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  29.  
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    Ima Fish, Feb 28th, 2009 @ 6:08am

    "and no performance is being given."

    If a player piano and a scroll can constitute a performance, (actually the player piano and scroll first created the idea that performances should be a protected right under copyright), then clearly the Kindle 2's ability to read text and covert it to audio is also a performance.

    If Amazon had hired actors to read each book, i.e., convert the text into audio, no one would doubt that it was a performance. The fact that the conversion is being done by a machine does not change anything.

     

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  30.  
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    John Duncan Yoyo, Feb 28th, 2009 @ 6:21am

    Re:

    As long as the put a warning in the book description that TTS is disabled or enabled they can even track people who would have bought the book with TTS enabled. They also should have make it difficult for TTS to be disabled.

    Bloody stupid move on amazon's part. They should have left the WGA looking like idiots all by themselves.

     

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  31.  
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    Scott, Feb 28th, 2009 @ 6:25am

    Aiken himself says at the end of the interview, "Private performances are unregulated by copyright law." The Kindle using TTS should be thus considered a "private performance." That fella's head would positively explode if someone were to, say, read the text aloud simultaneously with the TTS engine...

     

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  32.  
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    C. Craig, Feb 28th, 2009 @ 6:36am

    Copy RIght

    I cannot believe that the authors' guild is so up in arms about this feature. Unless you are visually impaired I cannot see many people using the TTS feature, and if you need the TTS, you will only buy the books that have it. Every one is so worried that they will potentially miss out on a few pennies that they threaten lawsuits. I will surely not buy a kindle now. I have pretty much given up on buying CDs and dowloading music because of all these tactics.

     

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  33.  
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    Weird Harold, Feb 28th, 2009 @ 6:44am

    Wake up and smell the coffee. Amazon is smart enough to figure out that their stock in trade is selling books. Books only get published when there is money to be made. If the authors aren't making a living, they won't write. If they don't write, there are no new books and Amazon has less to sell.

    Audio books (aka books on tape) is a different product. The TTS feature would allow a user to get two uses out of a book rather than the single one they purchased (to read it), example having your kindle run while you are driving a car, perhaps with other people in the car at the same time. It is a question of rights granted, nothing more and nothing less. When you buy a book, you have no right to reproduce it on a website or give a public performance of it (reading it in public), why would you have the rights to reproduce it in any other format that the original format you purchased it in?

    Yes, the question of "private use" always comes in, but at some point people have to learn what the purchase of a book or music really means. You purchase the license to use the product as presented, not in other ways. You don't buy a copy per se, you buy the rights to use a copy.

    Web2.0 has certainly melted a few brains on the subject of rights and licensing.

     

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  34.  
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    Cap'n Jack (profile), Feb 28th, 2009 @ 6:48am

    This makes me so angry.

    For those of you no longer buying a Kindle, you should send Amazon a few hateful e-mails.

    Someone should pretend to be blind and send Amazon a complaint. Isn't there some sort of over-arching visually impaired rights group that would be interested in how greed resulted in restricted rights for visually impaired people using this device.


    What the authors guild doesn't realize is that this means anyone who is smart and doesn't have the option to play the text-to-speech on an ebook, will simply downloaded the copyrighted version online.

    What this results in is the simply LOSS OF SALES and customer disatisfaction.

    How incredibly fucking stupid!

     

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    JohnForDummies (profile), Feb 28th, 2009 @ 7:20am

    Sigh. I guess I won't be buying my blind uncle one of these. It also makes me want to stop supporting authors who support the AG. Same reason I stopped buying music.

    Content creators get all the rights, and consumers lose more and more every day.

     

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  36.  
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    Rachel, Feb 28th, 2009 @ 9:11am

    This discriminates against the visually impaired

    I just want to say I agree with those above that this seems like it could be discrimination against the visually impaired. It seems the tts feature is something that can be brought in as a solution for the ruling against target violating Americans with Disabilities Act with its website. (I understand tts is a feature of the device not of the website itself) Wouldn't if an electronic devices offers TTS and then is in compliance with the ADA, wouldn't the publishers who choose to disable the tts feature voilating the ADA?

     

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    Rekrul, Feb 28th, 2009 @ 10:01am

    Re: Re: I just cancelled my order.

    "Good, so punish Amazon, and the e-book "publishers" who would allow you to do a text2speech in your protest. You know, the people who are an unwilling victim of this madness. Good for you."

    Amazon was in the right and they could have successfully fought this. Instead, they decided to take the easy way out and back down. You think they should be rewarded for that?

    If they cave so easily and there's no negative consequences, what incentive will they have to fight for what's right next time? Why do some people believe that a company should be allowed to do virtually anything it wants and that people should still support it?

     

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  38.  
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    Comboman, Feb 28th, 2009 @ 10:08am

    great news

    This is great news. Now there's a legitimate reason to crack Kindle's DRM.

     

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  39.  
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    Mike (profile), Feb 28th, 2009 @ 10:18am

    Re:

    Wake up and smell the coffee. Amazon is smart enough to figure out that their stock in trade is selling books. Books only get published when there is money to be made. If the authors aren't making a living, they won't write. If they don't write, there are no new books and Amazon has less to sell.

    Harold, apparently, has never been in the book business. Most authors don't make a living from what they write, but there is no shortage in the supply of new authors who are willing to write books.

    And, that's certainly not going to change because of this.

    Audio books (aka books on tape) is a different product. The TTS feature would allow a user to get two uses out of a book rather than the single one they purchased (to read it),

    You bought the book. With it comes unlimited "uses" of the text of that book. You can read it aloud or read it to yourself as many times as you want... or you can have someone else read it aloud or to themselves... even if that other person is a computer.

    It is a question of rights granted, nothing more and nothing less.

    Yes, and if you knew diddly about the law, you'd know that the rights granted with the purchase of the book includes the right to have it read aloud to you.

    When you buy a book, you have no right to reproduce it on a website or give a public performance of it (reading it in public), why would you have the rights to reproduce it in any other format that the original format you purchased it in?

    Indeed. But, of course, that's not what the Kindle does.

    Web2.0 has certainly melted a few brains on the subject of rights and licensing.

    Um. So far, the only one who seems clueless on rights and licensing is you.

     

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  40.  
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    PassinThru, Feb 28th, 2009 @ 10:31am

    From Amazon's point of view, a shrewd solution

    I was afraid they'd make some deal with the Author's Guild or publishers to give them extra money for every ebook, because now it could be read aloud. But they didn't - they put the decision in the hands of the publishers, and it'll be book-by-book.

    This is great! There will be publishers who opt to make this an extra charge, and those who do not. Then the market will decide. All books won't be affected, only those chosen by the publishers.

    And who comes out looking like the bad guy? Not the company who can say "the publisher disabled this neat feature for this particular book." Amazon can rightly claim that the feature is there, unless the publisher decides to disable it. If you had 100 books on your Kindle, and one of them wouldn't do text-to-speech because the publisher decided not to allow it, who would you complain to?

    Hint: not Amazon.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2009 @ 12:07pm

    Anyone blind who cares to sue the writters guild? Go for it, Sounds like a winning battle from the the git go. The rest of us can just sit back and watch them piss themselves over that one lol..

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2009 @ 1:32pm

    Entertainment

    Would I pay to hear Patrick Stewart read Macbeth? Yes. Microsoft Bob? No.

     

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  43.  
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    Weird Harold, Feb 28th, 2009 @ 2:41pm

    Mike, I know now that you are probably a pirate bay type, so it's sort of a funny discussion.

    Authors write because they like to write - but the business of books says if there is no money in it, the books don't get published (unless the author uses a vanity press). If there is no money to be made selling books, there are no new books. Of course, they could always release them as freeware, but without marketing and promotion, most books would be unknown and never seen by the public.

    The rights granted do include the right to have the book read to you (by a third party). But the Kindle isn't a person, it's a mechanical rendering of the book, in audio format. That isn't the exact same right, now is it? Audio books exist for a reason, they are a different product with different uses. You are looking at a small right granted to allow handicapped people to enjoy a book (read to them by someone else) and you are attempting to extend that right to people who don't require it, using a mechanical device and not a person. It isn't exactly the same.

    It's exactly what Kindle does, turning written word into a version of an audio book.

    Again, Web2.0 has made everyone like you into an armchair lawyer squealing about "rights" that don't really exist. I suspect you would have an entirely different opinion if you made your living as an author, rather than just being a KIA on the net.

     

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    J, Feb 28th, 2009 @ 3:18pm

    What a joke

    How long until the Kindle DRM gets hacked and allows this modification. Authors should be jumping over any chance for someone else to read their books. This shows how shortsighted the Authors guild is, and how money is their driver vs. writing and promoting good books. Good job Authors Guild

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2009 @ 8:37pm

    Re: Entertainment

    I would pay to hear Patrick Stewart read his grocery list.

     

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    Nick, Feb 28th, 2009 @ 10:53pm

    How stupid.....

    I can't wait until the first lawsuit from a blind user!

     

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    Flabberghasted, Feb 28th, 2009 @ 10:55pm

    TTS anywhere?

    Wait, so the idiots want to stop TTS? Will Microsoft and Apple bow down and make their systems fail to read certain books?

    Also, I object to the guild's insensitivity to those with seeing problems who would love to put any book they can into an audio format. I'm betting there's some books which will have this restriction on them for no reason other than because someone can, yet that book would never be published as an audiobook.

    I'm beginning to think the entire world has gone stupid with control freakishness.

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2009 @ 11:15pm

    Re: Re: Entertainment

    lol...so would I

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 1st, 2009 @ 4:40am

    Re:

    Certainly it does. TTS was originally a handicapped accessory, and that remains its primary purpose. This isn't a performance issue, it's a discrimination issue. Once it is treated as it should be, there will be another flip-flop on this.

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 1st, 2009 @ 4:45am

    Re:

    Web 2.0 has nothing to do with what is a handicapped accessory. By calling TTS a performance rights issue, you are marginalizing a section of the community that relies on things like TTS to help them out. I've yet to meet the person that uses TTS for the entirety of a document, but here you'd have someone using a separate device while driving their car? You, sir, are more of an idiot than you let on.

     

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  51.  
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    Weird Harold, Mar 1st, 2009 @ 7:24am

    Re: Re:

    It is all Web2.0 because you guys seem to think that everything should be free or included or that magically some very specific rights should be extended without limits, without consideration for the owner and provider of the works in question.

    Blind people won't have an issue with this, they don't typically buy books off the shelf in this manner, they buy either braille type books, or buy audio books directly. There is no loss of rights here, there isn't anything more or less here than there was before.

    Attempting to expand your own limited rights by piggybacking on disabled people who need a service is just disgusting.

     

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  52.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 1st, 2009 @ 7:30am

    Re:

    The writer's guild has great interest or concern for this MARKET segment.. precisely, they have an interest in exacting $1.75 per title from them.

     

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  53.  
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    JeroenW, Mar 1st, 2009 @ 9:19am

    any scifi or fantasy authors members?

    I'd like to know who to boycott for being a member of a RIAA-like organisation.

     

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  54.  
    identicon
    Gerk, Mar 1st, 2009 @ 9:28am

    Next Up ...

    Author's Guild starts suing people who move their lips while they read ...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 1st, 2009 @ 10:08am

    Re: Re: Re: I just cancelled my order.

    Aren't the people to have the lawyers and regulators visit Amazon? Since Amazon is now the one discriminating against users with limited vision, dyslexia and other reading problems.

    Somehow I think these groups are capable of being a ten times bigger headache for Amazon than the WGA are.

     

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  56.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold, Mar 1st, 2009 @ 12:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: I just cancelled my order.

    I gotta laugh.

    You guys entirely miss the point. Blind people aren't buying a kindle and books in this manner, they are buying audio books to start with. They aren't in this market at all and they sure aren't going to get upset that you guys can't get an extra benefit for free on their backs. They are buying less costly audio books or braille type books.

    You need to spend some time with people with limited sight and see how they read, with machines to enlarge the type onto a screen as an example, or buying large type books.

    It's sort of like using the time-shifting fair use as a way to piggy back on unlimited online file sharing of TV programs or movies. It misses the point entirely.

     

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  57.  
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    Mike (profile), Mar 1st, 2009 @ 12:07pm

    Re:

    Mike, I know now that you are probably a pirate bay type, so it's sort of a funny discussion.

    Nope, wrong again Harold (amazing how wrong you can be on so many different things in such a short period of time). I do not participate in any sort of file sharing, uploading/downloading of unauthorized content at all.

    Authors write because they like to write - but the business of books says if there is no money in it, the books don't get published (unless the author uses a vanity press). If there is no money to be made selling books, there are no new books. Of course, they could always release them as freeware, but without marketing and promotion, most books would be unknown and never seen by the public.

    Assumes incorrectly (again, Harold, it's stunning how many incorrect assumptions you make...), that these actions actually make it harder for authors to make money. That's wrong. Providing MORE VALUE to readers means that they're more likely to buy. LIMITING value to readers makes them LESS LIKELY to buy. This latest move takes away value, diminishing the market.

    The rights granted do include the right to have the book read to you (by a third party). But the Kindle isn't a person, it's a mechanical rendering of the book, in audio format

    No, it is not a "rendering." That implies a final product. It is not. If you don't understand how TTS works, you really shouldn't open your mouth.

    To date, you have shown yourself to not understand business, economics, value, price, cost account, the music business, the book business and a number of other things as well.

    Exactly how can we take you seriously?

    Audio books exist for a reason, they are a different product with different uses.

    Who said otherwise? But just because a different product exists, doesn't mean that a separate right is granted.

    Again, Web2.0 has made everyone like you into an armchair lawyer squealing about "rights" that don't really exist. I suspect you would have an entirely different opinion if you made your living as an author, rather than just being a KIA on the net.

    Yes, that's why authors from Neil Gaiman to John Scalzi to Wil Wheaton to Cory Doctorow and many others have all come out against the Authors Guild over this. Plenty of authors are smart enough to recognize how it increases the value of a book.

     

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  58.  
    identicon
    Guy One, Mar 1st, 2009 @ 12:31pm

    Re Weirdo Herold

    you seem to think that the feature the Kindle caries, Text To Speech, is the same thing as an audio book.... i have herd amazon's Kindle Text To Speech, and I would not be able to handle having a whole book read to me in that manner. Which would lead me to buying an actual audio book, with emotion and some tone to the voice.

    Oh and calling Mike a "pirate bay type" is just making yourself look like a TOOL.

    once again Weirdo H., Text to speech is NOT an Audio Book.

     

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  59.  
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    Weird Harold, Mar 1st, 2009 @ 1:15pm

    Re: Re:

    Did you say "wil wheaton"? OMG. *snort*

    I'm only wrong because you don't agree, not because of fact. Reality isn't exactly your strong suit, I doubt you run a business or actually produce a product. You would feel very different if you were losing income by having your rights eroded.

    Your value argument is laughable. People bought hard and soft cover books with nobody to read it to them, and they got value. Now they are going to get a book in a digital format that they won't even have to store in bookcases or gather dust, which is more value, and yet you still want more? If you want more in this world, you pay for more. It's a pretty simple deal. Mcdonalds hamburgers are $2, a good steak is $40. You don't get steak for a Mcprice.

    What you are seeing as a "doesn't cost them anything to do" option is far from the truth. A talking Kimble pretty much destroys the books on tape / audio books marketplace, removes another sources of income, the type of income that helps to keep costs down. It isn't like you are getting a free audio CD with every book you buy, now is it? last computer book I bought with a CD / DVD attached cost a bit more than what amazon is going to charge for a kimble download.

    The rights granted by purchasing a book, either printed or by Kimble, are the same, not different. Additional use rights can be granted, but typically they aren't free. TTS rendering (even done realtime) is a different use from the original purchase, and not a right granted typically in buying a book. What is so hard to understand here?

    Audio books are a serperate product and seperate use right. You don't get a printed copy of the book with the audio CD, nor does it grant you the right to write out the content of the book and give it to other people. It also doesn't give you the right to present that audio in public, example. It's a different product, nothing more or less.

    In the end, Amazon makes a pile of money selling books with the rights that go with them. Kimble is an extension of that business and those rights. Amazon wouldn't want to end up in a (losing) rights battle with authors just to make armchair lawyers and professional protestors happy.

     

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  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 1st, 2009 @ 1:31pm

    To continue this book in English, please insert 25ยข

    What used to be a manual process- Hiring of James Earl Jones to read a book to you can now be accomplished by robotic text-to-speech software. Yay.

    So again, people are looking at the 5% of people who buy audio and printed formats, thinking they just found the next Red Lake Goldmine. But once again, their logic is absolutely flawed.

    I'd say only 5% of people who buy the printed version also buy the audio version, and even that may be a stretch. But someone along the way thought they can make a quick buck by creating a new license which benefits the publisher of the printed version because TTS is a derivative of the printed works.

    So while you bicker like two old ladies about what's right, I will just head to the library and check out the audio and print version for free.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 1st, 2009 @ 1:47pm

    Kindle's price will cover a lot of library late fees

    $299.99 for the Kindle
    $20.00 for a book.

    I'm just saying libraries costs less...

     

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  62.  
    identicon
    Me, Mar 1st, 2009 @ 1:49pm

    Amazon should not have given in

    Looks like the author's guild is no different than the RIAA or MPAA in their ridiculous demands.......Now the kindle is totally useless for the eyesight impaired.....way to go Author's guild.....and Amazon

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 1st, 2009 @ 2:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I just cancelled my order.

    OK ok. You've swayed me. I'm going to sell all my books and buy a Kindle 2. Only drawback I can see is that books never need to be recharged. But on the upside, maybe we can burn all those books and use them for a fuel alternative for a while. Also, you seem angry. Perhaps you need a hug.

     

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  64.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold, Mar 1st, 2009 @ 3:13pm

    Re: Amazon should not have given in

    ... and this is different from a printed book how?

     

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  65.  
    identicon
    Sloppy Sam, Mar 1st, 2009 @ 3:21pm

    Re: Kindle's price will cover a lot of library late fees

    If your going to give a price quote on the Kindle, at least look up the correct price! Geez!

    http://www.amazon.com/kindle

     

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  66.  
    identicon
    Petréa Mitchell, Mar 1st, 2009 @ 5:20pm

    Sympathy for the authors

    It seems to be much the same thing as the Blount editorial-- the sticking point isn't the fact TTS exists so much as the authors have already sold audio rights to a different publisher.

    I totally buy the argument that copyright law is not the thing that applies here. But what do you say to the authors who have both audiobook and e-book contracts and are sitting there thinking "OMG I'm gonna get sued for breaching exclusivity!!"? You're not going to make any headway until you can answer that.

     

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  67.  
    identicon
    Weird Harold, Mar 1st, 2009 @ 5:53pm

    Re: Sympathy for the authors

    ding ding! Winner!

    the "free things from copyright" people forget that rights are granted in different ways for different things to different people at different times. Amazon is wisely leaving the option to the publisher / author so that they don't end up in the position of having aided the breaching of a contract somewhere else.

    It's remarkable how little people understand about publishing and granted rights.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  68.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 1st, 2009 @ 7:48pm

    Lazy Man's Book Reader is Status Symbol Of The Lazy Man

    I had the unpleasant experience of sitting next to one of these oafs who bought this toy, wile traveling from Dulles to LAX last week. I am still trying to figure out what problem kindle solves, besides making money on fat, lazy people that are moderately wealthy yet, going to the library is too passe and can't have enough foresight to hit up the Barnes & Nobel store. Maybe it's a part of a broader strategy. After all, AmazonPrime also seems to creep up on a lot of forgetful people.

    Maybe Kindling's existence is to create problems which need to be solved? After all, it has a remarkable ability to create new licensing problems. Even if you bought books regularly, kindling versions are usually $10 off of the print version. This still makes a breakeven point for the hardware at 35 books.

    Assuming a 2 year product cycle, before the battery dies, spill coffee on it, or you leave it on top of your car (because your a fat oaf) It's still over 2 books a month before Kindling 3 hits the shelf. During this time, you can't lend a funny book to others. Even if you did borrow your entire library of satirical non fiction to a friend or co-worker for a day or two, they'd surely start reading your other books, and you wouldn't see your kindling fire starter for months, provided *they* didn't leave it on their car.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  69.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Mar 1st, 2009 @ 10:50pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Did you say "wil wheaton"? OMG. *snort

    Heh. So you don't have any actual argument to respond to proof that you were wrong... and this is the best you can do? Fascinating.

    Authors are showing that you are wrong. Because you happen to not like one of the authors you are left unable to give a coherent argument. Yikes.

    I'm only wrong because you don't agree, not because of fact

    No Harold, you are wrong because you are FACTUALLY INCORRECT.

    There is NO AUDIO RIGHT that is violated by an automated reading of a text file you purchased. It doesn't exist. There is a performance right -- but that's not a performance. There is a right on a derivative work, but that's only a work in a *fixed* medium. An automated reading aloud does not qualify.

    There is NO RIGHT that is violated by the TTS reading aloud -- and stunningly, the Authors Guild even admits that when it comes to TTS on a computer.

    Reality isn't exactly your strong suit, I doubt you run a business or actually produce a product.

    I do both, extremely successfully, but your ability to be wrong doesn't surprise me.

    You would feel very different if you were losing income by having your rights eroded.

    Not at all. You know why? Because I set up my business such that my rights don't get "eroded". I picked a business model where the free exchange of ideas INCREASES my ability to make money.

    But, again, you are simply wrong in claiming that the authors "rights" are eroded. They're not. You cannot name the right that was eroded. It doesn't exist. The Authors Guild is simply making up a non-existent right.

    If you want more in this world, you pay for more. It's a pretty simple deal.

    Your ignorance of basic economics is astounding. I assume you pay more today for computers then you did 10 years ago? Oh wait... they're cheaper today? How could that be?!? Weird Harold insists that's impossible. But, of course, it's because Weird Harold does not understand the economics of information.

    A talking Kimble pretty much destroys the books on tape / audio books marketplace, removes another sources of income, the type of income that helps to keep costs down

    Um. There is no law against "removing a source of income." You know who removed a source of income from horse and buggy makers? Automakers. And that was perfectly legal. Your ignorance seems to know no bounds.

    The rights granted by purchasing a book, either printed or by Kimble, are the same, not different.

    Among the rights is the right to have it read aloud, by human or by computer. If you can point to the law that says otherwise, I'd love to see it, because IT DOESN'T EXIST.

    TTS rendering (even done realtime) is a different use from the original purchase, and not a right granted typically in buying a book. What is so hard to understand here?

    What's hard to understand is the fact that you've MADE UP a legal right that DOES NOT EXIST anywhere in the law. Seriously. Point us to the law that says that reading aloud something by a machine requires a different right. Even the Authors Guild in the interview above isn't so stupid to make such a claim, because they know it's not true.

    Audio books are a serperate product and seperate use right.

    Yes. AUDIO BOOKS are. But that's because AUDIO books are recorded in a FIXED MEDIUM. That's the right that is set aside by copyright law, of which you appear to be wholly ignorant.

    You don't get a printed copy of the book with the audio CD, nor does it grant you the right to write out the content of the book and give it to other people.

    Right, because those are FIXED MEDIA. FIXED. Look up copyright law. Then come back and apologize for being totally ignorant of the law.

    It also doesn't give you the right to present that audio in public, example. It's a different product, nothing more or less.


    No, that's a performance right, which is something different. But, of course, no surprise that you seem ignorant on that as well.

     

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  70.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), Mar 1st, 2009 @ 10:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I just cancelled my order.

    Blind people aren't buying a kindle and books in this manner

    Man, Harold, you just never stop being wrong, do you?

    If you were right, why would the National Federation for the Blind be weighing on the matter?

    http://www.nabble.com/NFB-on-Kindle-2-td22000456.html

    Many blind people do, in fact, buy audio books and use reading software to read them.

     

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  71.  
    identicon
    Dave Bell, Mar 2nd, 2009 @ 12:29am

    Not quite one-sided

    I do see why the Authors' Guild got worked up about this. Big media companies have ripped off authors about other emerging electronic rights. Web archives of newspapers and magazines,for instance.

    They do look ignorant, but I don't think they're wrong to insist on being able to control this (except, will it be the authors in control: I think not).

    Some publishers, and some authors, have demonstrated that even free ebooks make money: ebooks increase sales of printed books. While that might not apply to all markets, at that end of the range, audio is likely to be enabled. Baen sell ebooks too, at a low price. The audio option will sell to people who don't buy paper.

    Other companies seem to fear ebook sales. They believe that ebooks will replace paper. They will block the audio option.

    And most publishers just seem to be confused.

    The Authors Guild are looking for a weapon against the publishers, and I don't blame them for that. But I hear the whir of Dr. Gatling's patent toenail clippers coming up to speed.

     

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  72.  
    identicon
    mike allen, Mar 2nd, 2009 @ 12:54am

    there are many

    mlore screen readers exist some free some with good voices why do you need Kindle. the screen readers will read the ebook regsrdless of a switch being off. the visually peopkle who posted should take a look at what is out there. and nt just for ebooks from amazon.

     

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  73.  
    identicon
    Xanthir, FCD, Mar 2nd, 2009 @ 5:22am

    Wait for the lawsuits

    This may have been said before; I haven't read all 72 comments (at the time of this posting). But I just can't wait for the first lawsuit brought against Amazon by a deaf owner of a Kindle who is being discriminated against by this decision.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  74.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Mar 2nd, 2009 @ 5:46am

    Wtf Amazon

    I thought Amazon had more balls than this. Apparently they don't. Bend over and take it in the rear for another stupid copyright expansionist group that wants to screw over customers more.
    Author's Guild, you suck and now look like one of the biggest bunch of idiots out there.

    Certainly Amazon, you could have looked anywhere on the net and saw the entire public pointing out how stupid that group was, and yet you still bowed down before them. Pathetic.

     

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  75.  
    identicon
    John Duncan Yoyo, Mar 2nd, 2009 @ 6:06am

    Re: Re: Re: I'm going to return mine

    >A. Contact your Attorney General for discrimination charges
    >B. Look into a civil suit for discrimination
    >C. Contact advocate groups for the visually challenged


    How long until the class action suit begins?

     

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  76.  
    identicon
    Michael B, Mar 2nd, 2009 @ 7:18am

    Re: Re: I just cancelled my order.

    Absolutely, and maybe THOSE people will scream and yell because the morons who insisted that TTS be removed from ANY ebook affected them as well. It's the old saying, a few spoil it for the masses. There's nothing wrong with painting all of the ebook publishers with the same brush if ultimately the innocent ones rise up and support the rights of readers.

     

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  77.  
    identicon
    Michael B, Mar 2nd, 2009 @ 7:19am

    Re: firmware update?

    TTS MAY suck, but for those of us with visual impairment, it's all we have. Thanks for being so empathetic.

     

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  78.  
    icon
    Mark Rosedale (profile), Mar 2nd, 2009 @ 7:25am

    banged my head too much

    I have already banged my head too much for the day so I am not going to read it. It started off reading the latest from the TPB trial.

     

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  79.  
    identicon
    another mike, Mar 2nd, 2009 @ 12:12pm

    adobe next

    So is the Authors' Guild working their way down the alphabet and going after Adobe next? They've been able to read pdf documents aloud for quite some time now.

    Just build your own hackintosh Kindle. That way you'll get the device you really want and no rights-claimers restricting your enjoyment of their product.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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