Protests Against The Authors Guild For Forcing Amazon To Disable Kindle TTS

from the freedom-to-innovate dept

We were surprised and disappointed when Amazon gave in to the Authors Guild's baseless claim that the TTS somehow violated its copyrights. It looks like a lot of others are disappointed as well. A group is now organizing a protest against the Authors Guild for trying to determine whether or not Amazon was allowed to innovate. As the EFF notes, "The publishing industry shouldn't have veto power over new technology." If you're in New York City, you should look into the details of the protest on Tuesday.

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  • identicon
    anonimoose, 3 Apr 2009 @ 4:22pm

    Again, you and other clueless bloggers missed the point. Authors need their contracts renogiated to compensate for this use of their work. Bad enough they have taken a huge pay cut on Kindle ebooks, now they are expected to give up all their audiobook royalties too?

    Imagine if one of your hardcover books on which you previously made $.61 when it sold for $24.95, now sells on the Kindle for just $9.99.

    Do your homework!

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

    • icon
      Mike (profile), 3 Apr 2009 @ 4:44pm

      Re:

      Again, you and other clueless bloggers missed the point. Authors need their contracts renogiated to compensate for this use of their work

      Can you point out where, in copyright law, there's a separate "reading aloud" right? If not... then, you are wrong.

      Bad enough they have taken a huge pay cut on Kindle ebooks, now they are expected to give up all their audiobook royalties too?

      First of all, this does not give up all audiobook royalties (nice try, though!). Audiobooks are derivative works, because they are recorded (in fixed form). Having a computer read aloud is not a derivative work because it's not in fixed form.

      Finally, you are not granted a right to a stream of income. I'm not sure why you think you have.

      Do your homework!

      I did. You, however, obviously have not.

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

    • identicon
      A. L. Flanagan, 3 Apr 2009 @ 4:45pm

      Re: Author Renegotiation

      So authors are going to "renegotiate" every time a new product comes out? And meanwhile Amazon should just stop everything? If an ebook sale is treated differently from a physical sale, it sounds like the authors you mention already agreed to some bad contracts.

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

    • identicon
      The infamous Joe, 3 Apr 2009 @ 5:01pm

      Re:

      Again, you and other clueless bloggers missed the point. Authors need their contracts renogiated [sic] to compensate for this use of their work.

      One, Microsoft Sam (or kindle equivalent) reading a book is nothing close to an Audio Book. Not only that, but having a computer scan the words and synth a voice to read a book costs the Author absolutely nothing. No extra work on their part, so why should they get paid? Audio books, on the other hand, require actors, studio time, etc.

      I'm sick of the entertainment industry and their entitlist attitudes thinking that they should get paid 15 times for one act of creativity. It's disgusting.

      Two, The books on the kindle are *over-priced* at $9.99, seeing as they cost $0.00 to reproduce. I would venture to say since they do no extra work for putting a book in ebook format, getting any money at all would be a bonus.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Apr 2009 @ 6:28am

        Re: Re:

        A few more generations of voice emulation and it will sound close enough to an audiobook for a lot of people. Best deal with this now then later, if you don't protect your rights in court you lose them, it's the American way.

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

      • identicon
        An Author, 9 Apr 2009 @ 1:28pm

        Re: Re:

        The vast, vast majority of authors out there cannot even make a living at their work (I am lucky enough to be one that does, and part of that is from the sale of audio rights). So are you suggesting that the authors that write books should just write their book, get paid a flat fee once, and then flip burgers until creativity hits them again?

        This issue becomes far bigger as technology advances. It reminds me of Google Books' balls in going and just taking content until someone says "um, hey, now, did you notice that isn't yours?" You can't just release content in different forms until someone tells you to stop.

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

    • identicon
      bigpicture, 3 Apr 2009 @ 5:10pm

      Re:

      Boo Hoo, people who get paid many years for less than a years work, and other people who only get paid when they work, and are now out of jobs. And this is an expectation of sympathy for who???

      GET REAL.

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

    • identicon
      TheStupidOne, 4 Apr 2009 @ 4:27pm

      Re:

      Pay cut for Kindle books: I haven't done any math on the subject, but it seems to me that without the cost of printing and distributing the books the cost to the end consumer can be lower and the author gets as much (maybe even more) money. (You can feel sorry for the printing companies if you want to)

      Audiobook royalties: I haven't heard the kindle's computer voice reading the books, but I can imagine it does character voices, proper inflection, carry emotion with the words. Plus it isn't a celebrity voice. Audiobooks are only worth anything if it is more than just the words being read out loud.

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

  • icon
    Ariel (profile), 3 Apr 2009 @ 4:30pm

    No!

    Do YOUR homework!

    Authors don't take any pay cut from Kindle versions. Amazon is selling most of them at a loss. The publishers set the same price for Kindle version that they do for print versions, and Amazon has to pay.

    Before spouting nonsense, take a look at a Kindle book on Amazon... See that "Digital List Price"? That's the price on which the royalty is based... See how it's the same as the print price?

    TTS is *vastly* different than an audiobook. If you'd ever listened to them both, you'd know that. People who like audiobooks aren't going to be satisfied with TTS.

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

    • identicon
      TriZz, 3 Apr 2009 @ 4:41pm

      Re: No!

      Not only that...but the Kindle doesn't take the digital book and recreate it with an audio copy of the book. It reads what is on the screen. It's no different than me reading the book out loud.

      I do agree though in one sense. I mean, the authors guild did agree that the chances are that someone is going to listen to the TTS are slim, however, if the tech keeps progressing...it's only a matter of time before the quality does get good enough to compete with the audiobook market.

      Legally, this is a no-brainer. However, I do see the point of the author's guild in a sense of where this could potentially go if left unmentioned.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Apr 2009 @ 6:26am

      Re: No!

      The royalty percentage is less, it's a derivative work and negotiated seperately. You dont know what you're talking about.

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

  • identicon
    another mike, 3 Apr 2009 @ 4:53pm

    sigh

    Tech companies should just go ahead and innovate, and let the content companies decide if they prefer obscurity over piracy. Make the device capable of showing content with any feature customers want, and if the content providers don't like it, they can stop producing content. These should be separate decisions by separate industries.

    Hmm, whatever happened to those "criminal interference with a business model" lawsuits? If there were ever a legitimate reason for one, now is the time for Amazon to fire it off. "One-click" lawsuit launcher, lol.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2009 @ 4:55pm

    Today, we gather to mourn the loss of robotic voices everywhere

    Since Microsoft Sam along with Jesus himself, are both huge fans of "Creepy Vocal Artestry", they both have regretfully canceled their rumored appearance on the Kindle until the union contracts can be renegotiated.

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

  • identicon
    TheOldFart, 3 Apr 2009 @ 4:57pm

    I don't think TTS is a threat

    Just listen to Jim Dale read the Harry Potter books or Rob Ingles read the Lord of the Rings books. Gonna be a looooooooooooooooooong time before a chunk of software can do that.

    TTS is not an audio book and vice versa.

    Comparing cost of print books to electronic ones is disingenuous. There aren't any printing costs, shipping costs, warehouse/inventory space etc. So a $24.95 print book vs. a $9.99 is probably a significant *increase* in profit for the publisher.

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

  • icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), 3 Apr 2009 @ 4:59pm

    I'm protesting

    ...by not buying a Kindle.

    Frak it, I don't need an optional machine that can turn off my rights remotely.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Apr 2009 @ 5:10pm

    Kindle - Meh

    Product in search of a market.

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

  • identicon
    John Anti-luddite, 3 Apr 2009 @ 5:22pm

    Leave Them A Message On Their Web Page Here

    They have a link on their web page to "inform us" - be sure and go leave your suggestions to them:

    http://www.authorsguild.org/inform_us.html

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

  • identicon
    John Duncan Yoyo, 3 Apr 2009 @ 6:36pm

    I keep waiting for the law suit to against google to prevent this accessibility feature from being blocked. The Americans with disabilities act should provide fodder for this.

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

  • identicon
    John, 4 Apr 2009 @ 8:16pm

    While I am very interested in Kindle and more than willing to pay for books, paper or electronic, I am still waiting for these books to be DRM free (which is a step further than being unhappy with the removal of text-to-speech). It's just so much easier and "thought-free" when I don't have to worry about DRM and how I use something. The higher the resolution, the better it is too. We are nowhere near true 300-dpi but that's a technical limitation at this point.

    Speaking of DRM-free, Amazon does have an awesome MP3 store that is DRM-free with a large selection and often good prices. It would be nice if they had the same thing with books.

    On the note about Amazon, I recently came across an interesting table that details the discounts on Amazon.

    It is at http://www.uberi.com

    Maybe someone will find it useful too.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Apr 2009 @ 7:28pm

      Re:

      Speaking of DRM-free, Amazon does have an awesome MP3 store that is DRM-free with a large selection and often good prices. It would be nice if they had the same thing with books.

      I completely agree. Amazon's MP3 store is fantastic. From day one the products were DRM-free.

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

  • identicon
    LS, 5 Apr 2009 @ 5:43pm

    People protesting that some ebooks can't be read to them by their ebook reader?

    And I thought I needed to get a life.

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

  • identicon
    Mika Pyyhkala, 5 Apr 2009 @ 10:53pm

    Association of Blind Citizens To Webcast Authors Guild Protest

    New York City (Monday April 6, 2009)

    The Association of Blind Citizens, ABC, will produce a live webcast of
    the Reading Rights Coalition, RRC, protest being held at The Authors
    Guild in New York City. The webcast will begin on Tuesday April 7th
    between 11:45 A.M. and 12:00 P.M. EDT

    Listeners around the world can access the web page:
    http://blindcitizens.org/live
    which has information and links for listening to the live event. It
    is recommended that you access this web page prior to the event so
    that you can install the Talking Communities conference web browser
    component in advance. A flash based and mp3 stream may also be
    available at the above web address.

    The Reading Rights Coalition is a joint effort made up of 27
    organizations representing upwards of 15 million Americans who are
    blind or otherwise unable to readily use traditional print. RRC
    organizations and members will collectively protest the discriminatory
    separate but not equal stance of the Authors Guild as it relates to
    Ebooks and the Amazon Kindle 2 text to speech audio feature.

    "The water company does not charge separate rates for the use of water
    depending on whether the consumer is drinking it or using it to wash
    dishes; it simply
    charges for the amount of water used. By the same token, an e-book is
    not inherently visual or aural, and to claim that reading it either
    visually or aurally
    should cost a different price is discriminatory."
    http://readingrights.org

    The RRC web site, above, has in depth information regarding the
    protest, an electronic peitition, and other background and resource
    material.

    The board of directors of ABC, as well as all RRC organizations
    collectively, encourage you to sign the online petition, attend the
    protest in person or virtually, and sign up on the RRC web page to
    receive action alerts and updates.

    Contact:
    Mika Pyyhkala
    Vice President
    Association of Blind Citizens
    Google Voice/SMS: (617) 202-3497
    pyyhkala@gmail.com

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Apr 2009 @ 6:25am

    Blind people can't use the Kindle's interface without assistance so how many were using Kindles? Also, it's naive to blame the AG for Amazon's decisions - publishers have their opinions as well, and not only that, Amazon owns several audiobook companies.

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

  • identicon
    This ended up being longer than I intended., 27 Apr 2009 @ 11:44am

    I know this is a bit late, but this post annoyed me...

    The issue is not about the authors making more money from ebook sales, it is simply to ensure that they do not lose their right to make money from spoken versions of their work. If the precedent is set now, then in twenty years' time when you *can* make your Kindle speak with the voice of Jim Dale or Rob Ingles, and standalone audiobooks die out because people can buy two formats for the price of one, authors - most of whom do *not* sell books in their millions like JK Rowling - won't have a leg to stand on wand will lose a substantial source of income. I don't know about in the US, but in the UK publishers are legally required to make available 'accessible' formats of all their titles for the visually impaired, and usually licence popular books for the RNIB to convert for a nominal fee as well (the fee being there to make sure that the transaction is legal), so the ABC argument doesn't really stand up, either (this may be a stupid question, but why would a blind person want to buy an ebook over an mp3 anyway?).

    The whole concept of royalties is that the more popular a book is, and the more people want to buy your words in the order that you put them down on paper, the more money you, as the creator of the work, get. Allowing the Kindle the 'reading aloud' rights (which do exist - they're called 'single voice reading rights'. Ever heard a book serialised on the radio? Paid money to see someone read poetry on stage? Any reading aloud done for profit is subject to royalty fees) without raising any queries would open up a whole can of worms as to what an author can or cannot expect to get paid for in future. As long as the rights are listed and sold separately to Amazon(probably, for now, the most obvious thing to do would be to sell them for a nominal fee as part of an ebook 'bundle' since the text-to-speech feature is still pretty basic) there is no problem; it's only when spoken and written versions of someone's work become legally inseparable that the problem arises. This is especially true if it's resulting in increased profits for the retailer that don't trickle down to the author.

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


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