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).

Filed Under: authors guild, books, copyright, kindle, paul aiken, text-to-speech
Companies: amazon

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  1. identicon
    John Duncan Yoyo, 28 Feb 2009 @ 6:21am


    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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