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Amazon gets Borged

Amazon, arguably the largest bookseller on the planet, and proud parent of the Kindle Book Reader, whose birth defects are legion, most notably DRM, came out with V2, which added  text to speech as an enhancement, recently came under fire by none other than  the Borg Collective Authors Guild.

Roy Blount Jr., current President of the Authors Guild put forth the argument that:

“Kindle 2 is being sold specifically as a new, improved, multimedia version of books — every title is an e-book and an audio book rolled into one. And whereas e-books have yet to win mainstream enthusiasm, audio books are a billion-dollar market, and growing. Audio rights are not generally packaged with e-book rights. They are more valuable than e-book rights. Income from audio books helps not inconsiderably to keep authors, and publishers, afloat.”
Source NY Times

Audio Books still come on cassettes fer christ sakes! Growing Market my Ass!

There is nothing illegal with text to speech especially in the comfort of your own home, on your own devices,(readers, computers, your significant other, or parents) The First Sale Doctrine alone gives you the right to do what you want with your books. Regardless of delivery system, subject to physical or technological stumbling blocks like DRM. For example I used a copy of John Deans ‘Blind Ambition’ for target practice. Which is my right.

The “first sale” doctrine says that a person who buys a legally produced copyrighted work may “sell or otherwise dispose” of the work as he sees fit, subject to some important conditions and exceptions. Section 109(a). In other words, if you legally buy a book or CD, “first sale” gives you the right to loan that book or CD to your friend. Libraries heavily depend on the first sale doctrine to lend books and other items to patrons.
Source: AALL

Which if you have the brains god gave a gerbil, is the first free taste most people get that leads to an addiction to the printed word, culminating in visits to dead tree dealers both offline and on, like Borders, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.

That the Borg Collective Authors Guild, would put forth such a specious argument boggles the mind in light of using the audio book market (another milestone in technology) as its justification for demanding the removal the Kindle’s technological Next Step, the text to speech feature.

No the most outrageous part of this sorry mess is that Amazon fell for it. Here is Amazon’s statement:

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 rights holders can decide on a title by title basis whether they want text-to-speech enabled or disabled for any particular title. We have already begun to work on the technical changes required to give authors and publishers that choice. With this new level of control, publishers and authors will be able to decide for themselves whether it is in their commercial interests to leave text-to-speech enabled. We believe many will decide that it is.

Customers tell us that with Kindle, they read more, and buy more books. We are passionate about bringing the benefits of modern technology to long-form reading.

Note that the rights holders are emphasized,(before authors) which as an author you usually have to assign to a publisher to get published. The Borg Collective Authors Guild’s members would probably be better served limiting rights grants to publishers for publication. Because without authors, there is no reason for a publishing industry. Ask the Buggy Whip or Pager folks.
Authors should be drowning Jeff Bezos in fruit baskets or hookers in profound thanks making their work available worldwide 24/7.

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