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New Kindle Audio Feature Might Infringe Copyrights: I Want One

February 9th, 2009 · No Comments · Cool Stuff

For years now, the bulk of my reading has been done via an ipod shuffle, which on a daily basis ingests audio versions of The Wall Street Journal, the Economist, and long emails I don’t want to print out. Thanks to the built in text-to-speech capabilities of the Macintosh, I can now “read” just about anything while I drive, walk the dog, etc.

I’ve even considered at times having Kinko’s slice the bindings off some of my paperbacks so that I could scan and ocr them in my handy fujitsu scansnap — just so they can go “audio.”

I now learn that the new Kindle has built-in text to speech capability and can “read” books to you. The problem is that it raises copyright issues. This from the Wall Street Journal:

Some publishers and agents expressed concern over a new, experimental feature that reads text aloud with a computer-generated voice.

“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.

Regardless, I am very interested in the device now…


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