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Re: Wait, Wait... The Kindle Swindle?
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Sun, 1 Mar 2009 08:57:48 -0500
Begin forwarded message:
From: "Glenn S. Tenney" <tenney () think org>
Date: February 28, 2009 2:40:37 PM EST
To: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Subject: Re: Wait, Wait... The Kindle Swindle?
An update for the IP if you wish...
This doesn't bode well for anyone who has vision problems but is
otherwise able to use a Kindle.
Glenn Tenney CISSP CISM
Amazon retreats on Kindle's text-to-speech issue
Apparently, Amazon won't fight the publishing industry on the issue of
whether the Kindle 2's text-to-speech function violates copyright.
The retailer, which makes the popular Kindle electronic-book reader,
announced late Friday that the company is modifying systems to allow
authors and publishers to decide whether to enable Kindle's text-to-
speech function on a per-title basis.
Amazon starts its press release with tough talk. "Kindle 2's
experimental text-to-speech feature is legal," Amazon wrote. "No copy
is made, no derivative work is created, and no performance is being
But then the company says: "We strongly believe many rights holders
will be more comfortable with the text-to-speech feature if they are
in the driver's seat," Amazon said.
There is no mistaking what happened here: Amazon caved. For Kindle
owners interested in the text-to-speech feature, the reader just lost
The Authors Guild, a trade group representing 9,000 book authors had
criticized Amazon since the Kindle 2 debuted earlier this month. The
guild's president told CNET this week that Amazon was taking a hard-
line position in discussions between the guild and the company. He
also said there was a possibility that the guild could sue over the
"Anytime you have a new means of accessing content," said Paul Aiken,
"there's always some sort of aggregator that wants to control it and
keep the value for themselves."
Fred von Lohmann, senior attorney at the Electronic Frontier
Foundation, an advocate group for the rights of Web users and
technology companies, said he was grateful that Amazon went out of its
way to make the point that the company didn't believe text-to-speech
technology violated copyright.
"Nevertheless, Amazon decided to allow copyright owners to make the
decisions themselves whether to use the feature," von Lohmann said.
"They are entitled to do that. The issue of text-to-speech will have
to wait for another innovator."
One point that von Lohmann noted was that there are plenty of PCs that
offer text-to-speech and the Authors Guild hasn't made any objections
to those. "Maybe Apple should be looking over their shoulder," he said.
It's easy to understand why Amazon may have back-pedaled. Even the
staunchest supporters of text-to-speech say that it won't replace
audio books any time soon. Computers can sound like humans but they
can't insert emphasis or offer much of a dramatic rendering because
they don't yet understand what they're reading--and likely won't for a
very long time, say the experts.
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- Re: Wait, Wait... The Kindle Swindle? David Farber (Mar 01)