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Old 04-08-2009, 11:33 AM   #1
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eBook protest on CNN frontpage

It's an iReport video (which I can't watch at work, but I thought I'd share). It looks like they are protesting the Author's Guild. If someone watches it post what it is about

http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-241057
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Old 04-08-2009, 11:41 AM   #2
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There are a few more of them (didn't watch them)...
http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-241054
http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-241056
http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-240713

All are posted by professirx and appear to deal with a petition by the National Spinal Cord Injury Association.
http://spinalcord.org/news.php?dep=1&page=0&list=2240
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Old 04-08-2009, 11:47 AM   #3
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Too bad they don't know that in the US it is legal for them to strip the DRM so the eBooks can be read via the Kindle.
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Old 04-08-2009, 12:10 PM   #4
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Old 04-08-2009, 12:30 PM   #5
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This is great news awesome!
I personally fine text-to-speech (TSS) an excellent feature and found it a crime to society that the authors guild staunchly opposed this right.

This technology not only helps the disabled, but also assist in teaching children who are having a difficult time learning how to read... even as bad as the synthesized voice is it still pronounced the words accurately--well mostly.

I also use it for leisure and play the TTS when I want to continue reading my book but cannot for instance when I'm driving, working out, etc...

The author's greed blinds them form the truth. TSS will never equal audio books and their audio sales will go up as a result of folks wishing to listen to a professional production. Also I actually consume more books because of this feature.


Amazon has provided a great vehicle for us as consumers to pressure the AG to enable TSS. By allowing the author's to chose whether they want to enable TTS or not the consumer has the right to purchase the authors work based on that feature.

Personally I would like to see a boycott of authors who chose to disable the TSS.

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Old 04-08-2009, 12:48 PM   #6
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What about if it's the publisher and not the author's disabling the TTS? How would you know the difference?
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Old 04-08-2009, 01:39 PM   #7
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LMAO, this is real.
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Old 04-08-2009, 03:23 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by JSWolf View Post
What about if it's the publisher and not the author's disabling the TTS? How would you know the difference?
If the protest is about the disabling of TTS then isn't it one in the same? It doesn't matter who made the decision.

If the publisher is responsible for disabling TTS then they will feel more of the sting since it will effect all of their eBooks, and the author can also participate in the applying pressure to the publisher to remove TSS.

If it is the author who disabled TTS then only the consumer pressure is felt only by that author.

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Old 04-08-2009, 03:41 PM   #9
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Text deleted due to poster's remorse. Sorry.

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Old 04-08-2009, 04:18 PM   #10
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The yes/no will have to come through the publisher, and that might or might not reflect the author's wishes. To some extent, it will depend on people looking at their contracts and determining what rights they've granted to whom, and how it's worded. Contracts can be amended, but it's not a simple or quick process.

I've already told my agent I want TTS enabled. But I don't have any audiobook contracts. If I did, I'd have to study the wording to see if I could approve that without violating my agreement with someone else.

Anyway, here's the Authors Guild statement issued yesterday:

Quote:
Today, the National Federation of the Blind led a protest in front of the Guild's offices in Manhattan. This protest stems from Amazon's announcement in February that it would allow publishers to disable the voice-output feature of its Kindle 2 after we had objected that the feature threatened audio markets, violated authors' copyrights and exceeded the e-rights licenses that authors granted publishers.

The Guild, of course, is strongly supportive of making books accessible to the blind and other print-disabled readers through the Kindle and other devices. For decades (we think going back at least to the 1930s), authors have donated their rights so that Braille and audio versions can be made freely available to those who need them. The key is to make this technology accessible to print-disabled readers without undermining authors' audio markets.

There's an easy technological fix here: those with certified disabilities could have a Kindle operating system that is subtly modified to permit voice output for all books, overriding any limitations put in place by publishers. This could work in conjunction with existing programs such as Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, Bookshare and the National Library Service.

We issued the following statement today in response to the protest:

Authors want everyone to read their books. That's why the Authors Guild, and authors generally, are strong advocates for making all books, including e-books, accessible to everyone. This is not a new position for us. For decades, we've informed new authors that the expected and proper thing to do is to donate rights so that their works can be accessible to the blind and others. In October, we were praised by the National Federation of the Blind for the settlement of our lawsuit against Google, which promises "to revolutionize blind people's access to books," according to the Federation's press release.

E-books do not come bundled with audio rights. So we proposed to the Federation several weeks ago the only lawful and speedy path to make e-books accessible to the print disabled on Amazon's Kindle:

1. The first step is to take advantage of a special exception to the Copyright Act known as the Chafee Amendment, which permits the blind and others with certified physical print disabilities access to special versions, including audio versions, of copyrighted books. Technology makes this step easy: certified users of existing Kindles could activate their devices online to enable access to voice-output versions of all e-books. This process could be ready to go within weeks.

2. Since step one would help only those with sufficient eyesight to navigate the current Kindle, we encourage Amazon or another e-book device manufacturer to make an e-book device with voice output capability that would be truly blind-accessible, with a Braille keyboard and audible menu commands.

3. Finally, we need to amend existing book contracts to allow voice-output access to others, including those with learning disabilities, that don't qualify for special treatment under the Chafee Amendment. There's no getting around the need to amend contracts: for the past 16 years, standard publishing contracts with most major trade publishers do not permit publishers to sell e-books bundled with audio rights. Fortunately, publishing contracts are amendable, and can (once terms have been negotiated) be handled in a systematic fashion.

The Authors Guild will gladly be a forceful advocate for amending contracts to provide access to voice-output technology to everyone. We will not, however, surrender our members' economic rights to Amazon or anyone else. The leap to digital has been brutal for print media generally, and the economics of the transition from print to e-books do not look as promising as many assume. Authors can't afford to start this transition to digital by abandoning rights.

Knowing how difficult the road ahead is for the already fragile economics of authorship, we are particularly troubled at how all this arose, with Amazon attempting to use authors' audio rights to lengthen its lead in the fledgling e-book industry. We could not allow this rights grab to happen. Audio books are a billion dollar market, the rights for which are packaged separately from -- and are far more valuable than -- e-book rights.

That said, our support for access by all disabled readers is steadfast, and we know how to make it happen. The Federation rightly heralded the settlement in Authors Guild v. Google. That class-action settlement represents a quantum leap in accessibility to books for the disabled. It will, if approved, make far more books than ever before, potentially tens of millions of out-of-print books, accessible to not only the blind, but to people with any type of print disability.

Through the Google settlement, we have a solution for out-of-print book accessibility. We're confident we can arrive at a solution for in-print books as well.

Today's protest is unfortunate and unnecessary. We stand by our offer, first made to the Federation's lawyer a month ago and repeated several times since, to negotiate in good faith to reach a solution for making in-print e-books accessible to everyone. We extend that same offer to any group representing the disabled.
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Old 04-08-2009, 06:40 PM   #11
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The AG's statement, of course, assumes without discussion that TTS implicates "audio rights" in the first place, which is what they want everyone to simply accept. I would argue that there's a very good case to be made that TTS does implicate audio rights at all.
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Old 04-08-2009, 08:03 PM   #12
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The AG's statement, of course, assumes without discussion that TTS implicates "audio rights" in the first place, which is what they want everyone to simply accept. I would argue that there's a very good case to be made that TTS does implicate audio rights at all.
My take on what has happened is:

Someone thinks they can squeeze extra money by claiming that TTS is an incremental right. If you take this to court you have to prove that it violates "audio rights" and you'd lose. Instead you write it into contracts and get a bunch of people to sign it. Now you can claim in court that "of course it's an incremental right I own, all these people signed contracts recognizing it as such."

I think the Author's guild was played the fall guys for the above game of some publisher(s) and they're taking all the bad PR.

The sad thing is that even if they win nobody is going to pay any more money for an ebook with TTS enabled vs disabled. I think of it like a bakery asking me if I wanted to buy the right to be able to toast the bread because if you then butter it and sprinkle sugar on it, "then it will cut into my donut sales". Even if they win this as an incremental right it's worth $0.

The only party that wins is the DRM vendor because now you have to pay them to manage your $0 "TTS right" that you signed into a contract.
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Old 04-08-2009, 08:53 PM   #13
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It's like the electric company wanting to charge me more if I choose greener energy. They should be charging the same or less for greener energy to get people to want to switch.
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Old 04-09-2009, 12:04 AM   #14
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@Jeffrey--

Thanks for putting up the Author's Guild's press release. Until I read this, and spoke to an author about audio rights last weekend, I didn't really understand what was at stake with the TTS thing.

For an author it can make the difference between being able to put chicken and broccoli on the table, versus living on ramen. Now I understand better why some of them feel so strongly about this. The audio book rights are worth serious money to them.

I think the idea in the press release that TTS should be available for the blind, and that print-disabled people should be able to get Kindles that override TTS restrictions is a good one. If you made those Kindles without e-Ink screens (what good does the screen do a blind person anyway?) and got the TTS to work with the menus and put braille on the keys, you could pretty much guarantee that their use would be restricted to print-disabled people, and they wouldn't be used by sighted people to sneak around the TTS restrictions.

I mean, I like having my book read itself to me while I'm driving, but I wouldn't want it to *only* be read-aloud; I'd rather read for myself when I can, as it's so much quicker.
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Old 04-09-2009, 04:48 AM   #15
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@Jeffrey--

Thanks for putting up the Author's Guild's press release. Until I read this, and spoke to an author about audio rights last weekend, I didn't really understand what was at stake with the TTS thing.

For an author it can make the difference between being able to put chicken and broccoli on the table, versus living on ramen. Now I understand better why some of them feel so strongly about this. The audio book rights are worth serious money to them.

I think the idea in the press release that TTS should be available for the blind, and that print-disabled people should be able to get Kindles that override TTS restrictions is a good one. If you made those Kindles without e-Ink screens (what good does the screen do a blind person anyway?) and got the TTS to work with the menus and put braille on the keys, you could pretty much guarantee that their use would be restricted to print-disabled people, and they wouldn't be used by sighted people to sneak around the TTS restrictions.

I mean, I like having my book read itself to me while I'm driving, but I wouldn't want it to *only* be read-aloud; I'd rather read for myself when I can, as it's so much quicker.
It might be even better if they teamed up with Springer Design or Humanware, which already manufacture TTS ebook readers specifically designed with blind people in mind. Humanware's VR Stream already works with several different formats and DRM schemes, including Audible. If they can put Kindle books on the iPhone/iTouch, why not another device? It's not that ebooks aren't already available to blind people, but rather that many people would like to be able to purchase brand-new bestsellers rather than have to wait years until NLS or a charitable organization makes them available in accessible formats.

Also keep in mind that less than 10% of legally blind people can read braille. It's better to have a simple keyboard with an easily-memorized control system and audible menus than to try to label every button with a specific function.
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