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Gagging Your Books

  • February 12, 2009
  • Maya
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Another argument over copyright laws and their infringement…
… the always-retrograde Authors’ Guild believes that Amazon is violating copyright law by shipping a device that can read text-files aloud using text-to-speech, because “that’s an audio right, which is derivative under copyright law.”

Kindle 2’s flagship feature is the reading of text out loud, in the same way as software that’s already built into desktop computers and Prof. Stephen Hawking’s famous voice box. This has caused a “stir.” Paul Aiken, executive director of the Author’s Guild, told the Wall Street Journal that you have no right to use this feature. It’s a free audiobook, see.

“They don’t have the right to read a book out loud,” said Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild. “That’s an audio right, which is derivative under copyright law.”
An Amazon spokesman noted the text-reading feature depends on text-to-speech technology, and that listeners won’t confuse it with the audiobook experience. Amazon owns Audible, a leading audiobook provider.

The Guild’s claim is that even to read out loud is a production akin to an illegal copy, or a public performance.

If a machine reading a book creates a derivative work, why not a person reading a book?

In response to this, Neil Gaiman says: (via boingboing)

When you buy a book, you’re also buying the right to read it aloud, have it read to you by anyone, read it to your children on long car trips, record yourself reading it and send that to your girlfriend etc. This is the same kind of thing, only without the ability to do the voices properly, and no-one’s going to confuse it with an audiobook. And that any authors’ societies or publishers who are thinking of spending money on fighting a fundamentally pointless legal case would be much better off taking that money and advertising and promoting what audio books are and what’s good about them with it.

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