Roy Blount Jr. Has a Beef With Kindle 2

Where's the beef?

In today's New York Times op-ed. Blount, author of the popular title Alphabet Juice, confirms 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."

He continues, "And whereas e-books have yet to win mainstream enthusiasm, audio books are a billion-dollar market, and growing." His beef is that the authors and members of the Author's Guild, where he currently holds the position of president, are not receiving audio rights to Kindle 2's robotic audio versions.

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.


"screen readers" have been around for 10+ years... why are these people complaining about them now??? and don't you still need to advance the page before Kindle (I call her Kindle and not "the Kindle") will begin reading? if so, it's not like an audiobook in that second way. (first, it's not a "performance," it's a damn computer voice that probably mispronouces lots of words.) Unless Roy is saying that his members mispronounce lots of words when they record their audiobooks or have robotic voices when they should be acting while reading...

That may be all that need be said. I'd bet that, if AG could get its way, it would be illegal to buy books from a used book store (unless the author got a cut), libraries would have to pay an amount to authors for each book lent, and so on.

In cooperation with AAP, AG won a big one: Google abandoned a fair-use battle it could quite possibly have won, spending $125 million+ in the process and damaging future fair use cases.

So I'm not surprised AG's coming after Amazon--not because it has a plausible case (unless it's also planning to sue Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, the makers of all Linux text-to-speech software, and every PC manufacturer that includes sound capabilities and doesn't lock down the built-in OS text-to-speech), but because they think they can bully Amazon.

At least that's my opinion, but of course IANAL. Or, Gaia forfend, an AG member.

I suppose you could say that like with many other services it's up to the user to 'break the law' by having books read out, not emails etc that the system can deal with and could be said to be themain use of text-to-speech systems on PC's. Kindle is specifically designed for books so the audio reading section is a direct contravention.
Not that I agree with it necessarily but it's a possible argument for them.

That would also mean that you didn't get into the stupid banning second-hand book issue that always gets brough up with discussions like this (not calling you stupid Walt, just mean that it always gets trotted out when it has nothing to do with the main point)

I don't mind being called stupid--and I'm willing to make that link.

In both cases, authors' groups are attempting to redefine copyright as an Income Protection Law, ignoring or trying to reverse existing limitations.

I think it is the point: Copyright offers a limited monopoly designed to encourage new production. It's gotten far too one-sided (in term and extent) already, but some groups are never satisfied.

It's not a very good argument, though.

There is an exclusive right under copyright law in the creation of a derivative work (which has to be fixed in a tangible format).
There is an exclusive right under copyright in a public performance.

There's nothing called an "audio right." You can read books aloud to others without infringing copyright. You can use a screen reader without infringing copyright. You can use the Kindle without infringing copyright. (I'd even argue you can have storytime in a library without infringing copyright.)

The Kindle could be used for those types of infringement- like screen readers or similar software could be used- but it can also be used for non-infringing uses, such listening to a book at home. The potential for a technology to be used for infringement does not make the technology illegal.

I have a different idea about public performance rights - for example story time. (I am much in favor of story time). I don't think that one can publically 'perform' a work without a license, but I think that frankly no owner of intellectual property wants to take on that battle.

I would like to hear your ideas about story time.

Income from audio books helps not inconsiderably to keep authors, and publishers, afloat.

Should be:
Income from audio books helps considerably to keep authors, and publishers, afloat.

I not infrequently think you must be putting us on. You can't really feel that was incorrect and not a literary device to emphasize the value of the recorded book sales.

I'm sure some part of "Anonymous" was putting us on--but other parts might have been dead sirius (or serious, if you prefer). After all, it takes gumption to label "inconsiderably" as a negative in the first place...

That rule is:

Double-check your own grammar and spelling.

In this case, note that it's "grammar" with two "a"s--there is no "e" in "grammar."
And "negative," not "negitive."

[If I was quoting this--say for PLN, on my blog, or in C&I--I'd just fix the spelling or grammar...unless, as in this case, the person was specifically nitpicking somebody else's writing or making claims about his or her own.]

Actually, if I was changing the sentence, I'd eliminate the two commas before I'd do anything else...

I, too, get grumpy at some of the actions of the Author's Guild. But I've got to hand it to them- they do go out and protect author's interests and income as a group. I wish ALA would do as much to protect librarians and library staff instead of just libraries.

Remember, ALA is the American Library Association--if it was the American Librarians Association, I couldn't be a member. ALA-APA exists to be able to do the kind of lobbying you're talking about, and it doesn't have enough members to make it more than a minimal operation. (And the National Librarians Association was a dismal failure, as I remember.)

If you "protect" a special interest group's income by damaging other people and arguing for extreme positions of law, I feel no need to hand anything to you.

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