Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Kindle under attack

Cnet.com asks:

Was your mother a lawbreaker when she read you The Little Prince or Green Eggs and Ham?

That's the question raised Tuesday by the Author's Guild, an advocacy group for writers. Paul Aitken, the group's executive director objects to the text-to-speech feature on Amazon's Kindle 2 digital-book reader. Aitken told The Wall Street Journal: "They don't have the right to read a book out loud. That's an audio right, which is derivative under copyright law."

Wow. If a computer can't lawfully read a book out loud, do human beings have the right? Amazon and Aitken could not be reached for comment.

Unbelievable! What's next? Will publishers argue that you don't have a right to loan your book (or Kindle) to someone else because that may keep the recipient from purchasing the book themselves?

3 comments:

Jason said...

Well, consider their side of it, Amazon is basically saying that they are going to give audio books (a popular industry) a run for their money. So, reacting to that, they have to figure out a way to fight it or see their royalties go away very quickly once eReaders like Kindle begin to get extremely popular.

I think they will argue too that since Amazon is providing this new service it undermines the ability for the publishers to do that, and since it is a "mass" service that once again takes away money from them, it becomes a big deal.

No one cared that people back in the early 90's would copy over tapes to blank tapes and give them to other people because it was isolated and very limited to mass widespread popularity. However, once Napster comes on the scene, all of a sudden the music industry goes bonkers.

Kindle, providing this audio service, is the new Napster.

Dennis said...

Jason,

If Amazon was electronically copying another company's audio books and playing them on Kindle, I would concede that you have a point.

If Amazon has its own readers, or has the books read electronically, that seems to me like healthy competition.

When publishers can dictate how or by whom their books can be read, I think things are out of balance.

For example, publishers could made a valid claim that libraries hurt their business significantly by making books available to many people, thus cutting down on their profits. They would be right. But should we then close down all libraries to protect publisher's rights? Or do we say non-publishers have rights too? When publishers try to say their books cannot be read without copyright infringement, I think they've gone too far.

Jason said...

Right, I mean I never said I agreed with their argument. I am just saying they are lashing out because of this new technology.

Just like I am sure, Libraries are probably scared out of their wits that things like the Kindle will virtually make them obsolete in the next 50 years. Not to mention physical Barnes and Noble retail stores and small bookstore owners.

Publishers are scared that this kind of technology could seriously cut into their profits, and thus being proactive and trying to figure out how to get a piece of the pie, if not the whole deal.

I don't think its right, but it's where they are coming from.