Amazon Allows Publishers To Kill Text To Speech Function On Kindle 2

The 8,000 member Authors Guild—the RIAA of the publishing world—has complained about the text to speech feature on the Amazon Kindle 2, which can read aloud your ebook in a computerized voice (something text to speech programs have been doing for years). The Guild says that’s equivalent to an audio book, and that Amazon can’t just allow it without paying extra, so last Friday Amazon caved in and announced they’ll let writers and publishers disable the feature on a title by title basis moving forward.

If you don’t own a Kindle 2, the problem obviously won’t immediately affect you. But what’s unfortunate about this is it’s the second time in recent years that the Authors Guild has “won” a specious claim primarily because the bigger entity—Google last year, and now Amazon—didn’t want to go to the trouble and expense of a lawsuit.

With Google, the Authors Guild managed to score a $125 million settlement and arguably interfered with fair use rights under copyright law. Now they’re tampering with the functionality of a consumer device that they should have no control over. Google argues in the LA Times story that what the Kindle 2 was offering was completely within the boundaries set by copyright law, and we agree:

“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,” the company said. “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.”

Lawrence Lessig, founding board member of Creative Commons, points out that by allowing the Authors Guild to prevail, “publishers get to control a right which Congress hasn’t given them—the right to control whether I can read my book to my kid, or my Kindle can read a book to me.”

“Amazon lets publishers and writers disable Kindle 2′s read-aloud feature” [LA Times]
(Photo: ElvertBarnes)

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  1. CumaeanSibyl says:

    The answer, clearly, is to enlist organizations for the blind in the counteroffensive.

    • timx says:

      @CumaeanSibyl:
      I agree – I have to wonder how the ADA would play into this scenario.

    • Tyler Waldman says:

      @CumaeanSibyl: Or failing that, George Costanza.

    • arikmoon says:

      @CumaeanSibyl: The American Dental Association will have no stake in this claim.

      However, speaking about the blind…they can buy the audio book. This isn’t like taking brail away from the blind. The blind still have an option.

      In any case, I think the simple answer is to boycott the books that disallow text-to-speech and make it known with ratings on amazon.

      The authors guild can keep their “power” to deny text to speech on a particular work, but won’t be using it when they see the negative impact.

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        @arikmoon: Yes, so the disabled have to buy a completely DIFFERENT (and probably more expensive) version of the book simply because they can’t see. I don’t see how that’s fair.

        • Willow01 says:

          @arikmoon:

          There isn’t always an audio book feature though.

        • Corporate_guy says:

          @Oranges w/ Cheese: Well the problem is a blind person cannot even use the kindle. It’s a smooth surface. There is no way for them to know what is on the screen. Of course there is no technical reason why they can’t drop a microphone on it and make a voice interface for the device for the blind. But now that text-to-speech is out, there would be no point in developing such an interface.

        • floraposte says:

          @Oranges w/ Cheese: The ADA isn’t the “make everything fair” law, though, and even if it were, the Kindle isn’t a solution because it’s not accessible and it doesn’t apply to all books–then there’s also the small matter of the expense.

          The ADA is mostly about nondiscrimination in employment and in access to places and services, not merchandise. There’s no Braille or playable sound file identifying most packaging, after all; then there’s the fact that much of the web itself isn’t very accessible and doesn’t work with the basic screen readers. Fair? No. Legal? Different question.

        • diasdiem says:

          @Oranges w/ Cheese: Yeah, you’d think that would be illegal. It’d be like any other business putting in a handicapped ramp, then charging people to use it. And don’t Macs and PCs already have the capacity to read text out loud for disabled people? How is this any different? And I imagine Braille editions of books probably cost a bit extra as well.

          And if it’s a violation of copyright for a machine to read a book out loud, is it also a violation for a person to read it? If not, is there a threshold? How many people are you allowed to read out loud to? Will there be pending litigation against kindergarten teachers across the country? How loud are you allowed to read aloud? Can you be sued if to read too loud and some passersby overhear you? Actually, you probably shouldn’t read out loud in a public place, because that’s obnoxious. But still.

      • donopolis says:

        @arikmoon:
        Not true. Do you really believe that there is an audiobook version of every book in print? Often times the blind have to specially request items to be recorded for the via Lighthouse for the Blind, or other charitable organizations…of course that is also a violation of copyright…I wonder if the Author’s guild are going to go after them, or would that just be too tacky?

        This is also an insult to the people who create audiobooks, as Text-to-speech software in no way resemble the experience of having a living breathing person read to you.

  2. ophmarketing says:

    “The Guild says that’s equivalent to an audio book”

    Clearly, the Guild is completely unfamiliar with the concept of auto text-to-speech software. Because there’s no way in hell such technology could ever be confused with an audio book.

    • floraposte says:

      @ophmarketing: I suspect that from a Guild standpoint it’s simply the fact that audio availability is included with the print availability without a separate license. They don’t really care about the difference in technology and production.

      And it’s possible that is unprecedented, at least in the majors, since e-text has been pretty rare.

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        @floraposte: I think they’re more concerned about getting the appropriate amount of $$$ instead of anything to do with audio vs e-text.

      • noone1569 says:

        @floraposte: Wait, Wait, isn’t this same functionality available on any PC in the world that has windows? Can’t I just have my computer “Bob” read me the book too? Come on . .

        • floraposte says:

          @noone1569: But you’ve got to have the e-text first for that. Most big trade publishers aren’t going to sell it to you. Public domain text, no problem, but the Authors Guild isn’t representing those authors.
          @Oranges w/ Cheese: Yes, of course it’s about money. Does that mean it’s inherently bad, though? Or that its setting of a precedent isn’t relevant? Authors have traditionally sold audio rights separately, and there haven’t been many e-text versions to test the exemption for text-to-speech. This is a competing product that isn’t separately licensed. I haven’t come to a firm conclusion on this, but I don’t think the Authors’ Guild is crazy here for being concerned.

        • Nicole Glynn says:

          @noone1569: Macs can do it too.

    • David Brodbeck says:

      @ophmarketing: They may be concerned that as text-to-speech improves, it may become a reasonable alternative to audio books, instead of a novelty like it is now.

      • girlleastlikelyto says:

        @David Brodbeck: I just received my Kindle 2 (sorry, I’ve been working that into conversations all day), and the text-to-speech is very good. Still, it’s not close to an audiobook read by a professional. Amazon.com owns Audible, one of the big audiobook online retailers, so I don’t think they’d use the technology if they thought it would compete with another one of their own revenue streams.

    • RandomHookup says:

      @ophmarketing: Even Jeff Bezos admitted on Charlie Rose that it’s like listening to a computer. “It-was-the-best-of-times-it-was-the-worst-of-times…” No emotion, at all.

    • Mike_Hawk says:

      @ophmarketing: So if I read a book to my daughter, is that equivalent to an audiobook?

      I remember in grade school, sometimes the teacher would read to us for a half hour at some point in the day. Where can I report her for violation of copyright?

  3. valarmorghulis says:

    Wow, I suddenly have an urge to not buy a Kindle 2, but only buy audiobooks of titles that allow the text2speach feature.

  4. fatcop says:

    I have been kicking around all weekend whether or not to purchase a Kindle. Actually, longer, but I was waiting for the K2 to come out. I’ve been burned early adopting in the past.

    I’m torn now.

    The text to speech function isn’t a deal breaker for me, but it is handy and one of the several so-called “experimental” functions. I’m hesitant to buy a several hundred dollar device that can have some of it’s usablity features disabled by someone other than me after I pay for it.

    • Chris Walters says:

      @fatcop: Amazon also disabled a feature from the Kindle 1 that let you add your own images as screensavers. It’s not a *huge* deal–it doesn’t affect the books you read, obviously–but it does mean they locked down the device to a greater degree than before. And to my knowledge there was no way to abuse the feature to evade copyright laws or anything. It just let you temporarily replace the built-in screensavers with your own family pics if you wanted.

      The core technology is still awesome, but with that missing, the text to speech control being handed off to publishers, and the price fluctuation we’ve started to see for titles, it’s more of a gamble than ever. You really have no way of knowing what else Amazon may take away in the coming months.

  5. Cyfun says:

    I think this is a great idea, because this will inspire enterprising people to hack the Kindle 2, thus paving the way for all kinds of other cool stuff. Just think of all the cool modding that never would have occurred if the manufacturers hadn’t been so over-controlling and restrictive all these years. Case-in-point: the iPhone and Xbox.

  6. Alessar says:

    This is terrible. People need to stop being so greedy. Certainly, authors should get paid for their books, but trying to limit usage like this is terribly draconian. This author’s guild entity needs to be stood up to.

    • floraposte says:

      @Alessar: Facebook changed the terms on material provided to them in order to make more money from it. Amazon changed the terms on material provided to them in order to make more money from it.

      Why does the second mean “people need to be so greedy” while the first means that Facebook got greedy? Seems to me that the providers of material in both cases have a right to consent to any changes to use of their material, and that the main difference here is that web posters are likelier to provide material to Facebook than a publisher.

  7. Saboth says:

    Ah good, another reason for me not to buy a Kindle. Next up: the author’s guild implants tiny liquid bombs in all books that cause the ink to run if you own the book longer than 2 years, to prevent used sales at yardsales.

    Really…when are these people (PC game publishers, RIAA, MPAA, WG) going to get a clue? Be happy SOMEONE is buying your shit. Why are you penalizing people that are giving you money? Do you think someone is going to buy your book AND the audio tape? No, they buy the kindle version, and you should be happy with your cut. Why put malware in PC games to punish non-pirates? Be happy SOMEONE is paying you. Why cry that your music isn’t getting enough money from Guitar Hero? Be happy you get ANYTHING. Geeze, these guys are going to lock down their material so hard, no one will want to fool with it.

  8. dadelus says:

    This is ridiculous. Text to speech is nothing like an audio book. The reason publishers should be allowed to charge for an audio book is because the creation of such a recording costs the publishers. They have to pay the author, or an actor to read the book, the recording engineers to record the reader, and then they have to manufacture the CDs, MP3 or whatever form the final product takes. I’m sure there are tons of other expenses I’m missing that make it reasonable for a publisher to charge fo a seperate audibook.

    The publisher incurs NONE of these expenses when a buyer with a Kindle activates the text to speech function of their device on content they have paid for.

    Unless the publisher had intended to have Stephen Hawking read the book there are no similarities here at all.

    • floraposte says:

      @dadelus: That’s not the basis for additional rights charges, though (which is probably good for authors, as movie rights wouldn’t cost anything then).

      • dadelus says:

        @floraposte:

        That may be, but using the logic they are using here should they get a royalty fee every time a parent reads a story to their children rather than having the children read it themselves?

        • floraposte says:

          @dadelus: That’s Lessig’s point, too, and I don’t agree; for one thing, that’s a use long held acceptable (and is indeed the intended purpose of many books), and for another, that’s an individual user conversion, not a reseller adding a different media version.

          I am really interested to see if somebody does hack the Kindle, though.

          • Chris Walters says:

            @floraposte: I really wanted this to go to trial to see how copyright law would be interpreted in this case, because I think it’s only going to get messier from here out re. technological capabilities of devices.

            It seems to me the AG should use its Google settlement money to campaign for better royalties on ebook rights, due to the fact that an ebook can be presented in a wide, as yet undetermined manner of ways, depending on the capabilities of the device.

            Restricting ebooks so that they’re only allowed to be displayed in a page-like presentation seems to artificially restrict innovation for the sake of the status quo. It’s laughable to try to equate text to speech to a recorded performance of a book, and I’m sure that other innovations are around the corner that will present similar issues.

            Seems to me the AG should have a beef with the valuation of current ebook rights as negotiated by publishers (as in, maybe they should demand higher royalties per ebook sale), not with Amazon. +maybe they should educate their members on the dangers of giving up rights wholesale to technologies that are still immature.

            (And those last two paragraphs may be bunk, as I do not work in publishing and am only guessing at how contracts are negotiated.)

          • Chris Walters says:

            @floraposte:

            [reading aloud to your kid is] an individual user conversion, not a reseller adding a different media version.

            That’s the issue I want resolved by the courts, because technically Amazon isn’t producing a new media version at all. They’re selling the same thing they’ve always sold–an ebook file–and a device that has built-in TTS software. Even though one of the “display” options–or in this case maybe we should call it a “presentation” option–uses audio, it’s in no way an audio book copy of the text. It exists one time, created in the moment by the software, and isn’t saved and can’t be resold separately from the ebook.

  9. dako81 says:

    Sounds like these people really hate people using their products.

    What a great way to stay in business. I’m going to sit back and watch how long it lasts.

  10. pwillow1 says:

    I like to knit while listening to audiobooks. But a lot of the books I want to listen to aren’t available at Audible.com. I have suspended my subscription there because the last five or so books that I was looking for just weren’t available in audio.

    I was considering the purchase of a Kindle, since those books I was wanting to listen to were available in the Kindle format, and I had heard about the text to speech feature.

    I’m glad I caught this story on Consumerist. I’m holding my order on the Kindle.

    • SusieFoo says:

      @pwillow1:
      Get a text-to-speech program. I like TextAloud. The included AT@T voices are excellent.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @pwillow1: Another knitter!

      I hope the books that aren’t available as audiobooks aren’t also some of the same books they don’t want to have the text-to-audio feature on but five bucks says that will happen too.

      (I hope that because it would suck for Kindle owners not because I’m going to buy one. Way out of my price range.)

  11. vesuvian says:

    Amazon customer staff were very courteous about handling my return yesterday. I quote the return authorization:

    Kindle 2: Amazon’s New Wireless Reading Device (Latest Generation), quantity 1
    Reason: No longer needed/wanted
    Return Details: ***Kindle*** returning in protest of text to speech change. cst does not believe amazon should have “caved in” to the authors guild and giving them the choice on text to speech capabilities.
    Action Requested: Refund

    I believe that the position held by Kindle owners opposed to the Authors’ Guild was covered in the authorization.

    Thank you for being ethical about the return, Amazon.

  12. Blueskylaw says:

    This incident again begs the question, why don’t you just buy a book?

    The same thing that happened with music will happen here. Download restrictions, usage rights, DRM, disabling features, non-transferable/sellable, ridiculous costs.

    Remember ATM’s? First they were touted as a convenience, then used as a moneymaker.
    Or East Coast people, remember EZ Pass? First you got a discount, then you paid the regular cash price, now you have to pay a monthly fee.

    People, wake up and realize that companies are not in business to save you money, only to make believe they are saving you money. Once you realize that and start questioning all their actions then you stand a fighting chance.

    • winnabago says:

      Or East Coast people, remember EZ Pass? First you got a discount, then you paid the regular cash price, now you have to pay a monthly fee.

      @Blueskylaw:

      Not sure what state you are referring to, but I’m familiar with NY, NJ, and MA, and none of them charge a fee, and all three still give discounts for using EZPass. Mass, up until a few weeks ago, charged for the device, but now they are free. You don’t need to be a resident to get an account in any of those states either, so if you are paying more, go ahead and contact one of them.

    • theblackdog says:

      @Blueskylaw: Wait, what monthly fee for EZPass? Maryland doesn’t charge me a monthly fee to use it.

    • girlleastlikelyto says:

      @Blueskylaw: But then you raise another question (not “beg the question” — that doesn’t mean the same thing) — if you say buying a book is preferable to buying a Kindle because companies aren’t in business to save you money, doesn’t that extend to book publishers? And what does that have to do with the disabling of text-to-speech?

      I have a Kindle, and when I buy a book for it, I am buying a book. What can I say — I live in a small place, have run out of shelf space, and like to read a lot. Yes, companies want me to spend my money, and they do so by putting out products that I think might be beneficial to my lifestyle and are produced in a reasonably ethical way.

  13. CMU_Bueller says:

    *cough*
    Time for a one star review.
    *cough*

    • trellis23 says:

      @CMU_Bueller:

      Or how about you don’t review things you’ve not used?

      • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

        @trellis23: It’s legitimate to review based on things you know for a fact about the item, whether you actually own one or not. Yes, it is possible to know things about an item without owning one.

  14. gttim says:

    There goes Stephen Hawkins new part-time job. I guess it is back to rapping for him.

  15. trellis23 says:

    I think the AG is a bunch of idiots, and Amazon is a complete pushover. And while I believe SOME people saying they aren’t going to buy or are sending theirs back because they only wanted it for the feature, I don’t believe most of them. Give me a break, while we all want extra features, how often do you think you’d actually use it? Everyone thought text-to-speech was cool idea on computers but I know very few who actually use it. It will be the same with the Kindle. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fight for the feature that was advertised, but be realistic at least with yourself about whether you would have really used the feature.

    • dreamsneverend says:

      @trellis23: Everyone wants a piece of the pie.

    • kexline says:

      @trellis23: I can’t speak for everyone, but personally, it was the single biggest selling point. YES, I realize the voice generator sounds awful, but I wanted badly to try it anyway. I’m constantly being dragged off to one place or another when I’d rather be reading. I’ve read and audiobooked in tandem, but this option is expensive* and it’s tedious to find my place every time I switch formats.

      The switching is what made the Kindle 2 stand out. If the publishers wanted to offer enhanced e-books that had page-indexed audio files for half-again more than the original ebook, then it might be fair to switch off TTS for publications available in that specific format. TTS could not be confused with the for-profit product, but it would be competing with it. Fine. But considering that Audible files are generally tabbed by chapter or hour, I don’t see a TTS-equivalent product on the horizon.

      * Admittedly, the “expensive” is my own fault because of my mild fetish for signed firsts. I fully realize *could* combine the library and Audible, or better, the library and the library, and pay no more than $15 per book. But we’re talking about purchased digital editions here, so I think it’s reasonable to stipulate that I generally won’t pay for two standalone editions of the same book.

    • David Brodbeck says:

      @trellis23: I have some sympathy for the author’s guild, here. Their job is to protect the rights of their members. Until a court rules otherwise, this is a right their members have. They’d be falling down on the job if they didn’t pursue it. If it’s an unreasonable claim than Amazon should fight it.

  16. JustThatGuy3 says:

    “If you don’t own a Kindle 2, the problem obviously won’t immediately effect you”

    Affect, not effect.

    /pedant

  17. U-235 says:

    It would seem to me Amazon’s caving had less to do with the expense of a lawsuit and more to do with how much it would endanger their relatively young product if a bunch of big publishers decided not to make their books availiable for purchase on the Kindle.

  18. JosephFinn says:

    “the right to control whether I can read my book to my kid, or my Kindle can read a book to me.”

    Two completely different things; one is a Fair Use and the other is a Commercial Use.

    • floraposte says:

      @JosephFinn: Yup. That’s why reading a book to a class is different than performing a story from it for a paid event.

      • Chris Walters says:

        @floraposte(and @JosephFinn): A Kindle TTS presentation isn’t the same as performing a story for a paid event. An auto-generated presentation of an ebook is a new category, and doesn’t fit neatly into either Fair Use or Commercial Use categories. I think it should fall under Fair Use as it is technically no different than changing the font size or screen color on an instance-by-instance basis.

        What happens when a device offers a Babelfish style translation feature? Is the machine translated instance, which is neither saved nor created ahead of time as a separate copy, equivalent to a translated edition sold by a publisher? Again, I think it falls under fair use–and demonstrates the elasticity of how an ebook can potentially be experienced.

        Believe me, if I ever sell a manuscript to a publisher, I will negotiate for some very limited digital licenses or simply walk away from the deal. Technology changes too rapidly to leave my hard work in the hands of contractual guesswork and catch-all clauses.

  19. Justin Gerard says:

    That is SUCH BS, amazon should have stood up to them and flipped them off. Of course, amazon’s primary biz is paper books, but how much of the publishers revenue comes from amazon? a fair bit i’m willing to bet, but enough to threaten them with? Dunno, either way, this still sucks.

  20. sumgai says:

    Send emails to them. I just did.

    The Authors Guild
    31 East 32nd Street, 7th Floor
    New York, NY 10016

    Phone: (212) 563-5904
    Fax: (212) 564-5363

    E-mail: staff@authorsguild.org

  21. N.RobertMoses says:

    I still see no reason to blow almost $400 on one of these things. $400 can buy a lot of books or audio books.

  22. admadan says:

    I hope someone from the ADA has the nerve to start a lawsuit. This would be an awesome feature for anyone that is visually impaired.

  23. Eldritch says:

    Oh, come ON! A guild of authors is nothing like the greedy assholes from the RIAA. Authors are a special breed and many take great and loving care in their audiobooks. I agree with them, this shouldn’t have been a Kindle function.

  24. GrandizerGo says:

    This is probably the reason that there has been an “uptick” in the number of pirated audio books appearing in the newsgroups over the last few days…

  25. mechteach says:

    I really don’t understand why the Authors Guild even picked this fight. If someone buys a book on a Kindle, they can’t resell it (like to a used book shop), so I think that would ultimately lead to more profit for authors, not less. Way to shoot themselves in the foot.

    • ezmobee says:

      @mechteach: EXCELLENT point.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @mechteach: +5

      That should more than make up for any money lost on audio books, especially since the audio books will still sound better than a regular text reader.

    • Chris Walters says:

      @mechteach: Yes. There’s also the question of whether text to speech would ever meaningfully cannibalize audio book sales–consumers who enjoy audio books would possibly not abandon them for the limitations of text to speech (this is something we can hopefully test once more data is generated in ebook sales).

      At the same time, TTS increases the value of an ebook purchase and adds a unique capability that other formats don’t have, which might increase ebook sales, and offset the liabilities associated with buying a DRMed book that can’t be resold or given away.

      • mechteach says:

        @Chris Walters: Exactly. There are times when the trade-off between borrowing a hardcopy book from the library and a buying an e-book for $9.99 is unclear. Adding TTS might prompt someone to make that purchasing decision.

        And @RP: Yes, it isn’t as if James Earl Jones is providing the TTS capability. Anyone who has listened to a TTS software program recognizes that it is a functional tool, as opposed to an enjoyable delivery device.

  26. Anonymous says:

    I would think ADA groups would jump on this. This is not an issue of cheating writers out of anything. This is an issue of fair access for all. My husband uses voice to text software due to failing muscles in his hands and arms. It’s easier for him to speak than type. Those writers are insane.

  27. Anonymous says:

    “With Google, the Authors Guild managed to score a $125 million settlement and arguably interfered with fair use rights under copyright law.”

    Say that again? For years, Google has been making complete scans of in-copyright books for commercial purposes. In nobody’s world does that fall under the fair-use provisions of copyright law.

    • Chris Walters says:

      @MorrisBurns:

      Perhaps most importantly, the settlement leaves undecided the issue of whether Google’s scanning of the entire books and display of snippets is a fair use. Many observers, including me, believed that the courts would ultimately hold that it is a fair use, and thus set important precedent establishing that such “transformative uses” of copyrighted works — uses that serve the shared goals of copyright and the First Amendment — do not infringe copyright. Google’s settlement for a $125 million payment and abandonment of its fair use defense (as well as its agreement to stop displaying short snippets of copyrighted in print books without obtaining copyright holder permission), may well leave others in a far weaker position to enter the market for online book searches and digital archives and may make it more difficult to claim that such uses of books do not harm a potential licensing market, which claim carries considerable importance for successfully asserting fair use.

      [balkin.blogspot.com]

  28. tbbx says:

    I’ve been reading books to my nephew.

    Is the Guild coming for me?

  29. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Isn’t this the second time they’ve had to recant something related to the Kindle? If they can’t stick with the cool stuff they announce for it then why should anyone buy one?

    • speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

      @Rectilinear Propagation: Based on the way they’ve been acting, there’s no real reason to expect they’ll keep ANY of their promises after you buy one. Piss on ‘em.

  30. girlleastlikelyto says:

    I’m disappointed in Amazon’s decision to bow to the Author’s Guild, but here’s hoping that the attitudes of sensible authors like Neil Gaiman, who does not support the position of the AG and whose self-read audio books are wonderful in a way the Kindle’s t-t-s could never be, will prevail. We should encourage like-minded authors to pressure their publishers not to disable the t-t-s function on their books.

  31. suburbancowboy says:

    Here is what Neil Gaiman had to say about it:
    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.
    [journal.neilgaiman.com]

  32. CyberSkull says:

    There is no way that today’s or tomorrow’s text-to-speech software will ever be good enough to constitute a “performance” or “audio book”. Maybe in 5-10 years with a lot of research. But not today.

  33. Anonymous says:

    I can’t understand why this is even a debate. I’m not being (completely) sarcastic..

    An ebook is a text file full of.. text. An audio book is file containing and encoded waveform.

    The 1′s and 0′s of an ebook fed to an audio player do not a pleasant sound make.

    The 1′s and 0′s of an audio book converted into ascii does not make for an engaging read, either.

    They are so obviously different things – why are we even having to talk about this?

  34. jwissick says:

    This really blows.

  35. esc27 says:

    It is this sort of bogus consumer abuse that (in my eyes) legitimizes the existence of groups like the pirate bay.

    I actually like (limited) copyrights, and I want to support content creators, but when the powers that be treat their customers so terribly why shouldn’t their “customers” act the same?