I spent a few minutes today on Amazon, to check on reports that some Kindle titles now have text to speech disabled. Among the authors who are “turning off” text to speech in Kindle editions of books are President Obama, Vice President Biden, Toni Morrison, the Pope, Stephen King, Maya Angelou, Mother Teresa, Isaac Asimov, Tom Brokaw, P.D. James, Robert B. Reich, George Will and Ann Coulter, to mention a few.
Update #2, 15 May: Yesterday, Random House began to disable TTS on books in the Kindle store, which is our primary concern. However, it appears that early reports from the Amazon message boards of remote disabling may have been inaccurate; there have been no confirmed reports of TTS being remotely disabled, and we apologize for any confusion. However, the technology to remotely disable these works does exist, and this remains a significant concern.
Two major points to bear in mind as this story progresses:
Find below a copy of the KEI submission to the U.S. Copyright Office and the USPTO on a survey on accessible books in Spanish-Speaking Countries.
Survey on Accessible Books in Spanish-Speaking Countries
By Judit Rius Sanjuan, Knowledge Ecology International
April 28, 2009
Today Meredith Filak and I filed comments with the LOC Copyright Office and the USPTO on the importance of access to foreign works for reading disabled persons. A pdf of the comments are on the web here.
The comment is filed with a lot of data, including, for example:
KEI recently submitted comments to the US Copyright Office regarding the upcoming Treaty for the Blind. One element of those comments was a test of the availability of books in reading-accessible format.
Today I filed my comments to the United States Copyright Office and the United States Patent and Trademark Office on Accessible Works and Standards, a topic related to the provision of access to copyrighted works for blind or other persons with disabilities.
The following is my report from the April 7, 2009 Reading Rights Coalition demonstration in front of the NYC offices of the Authors Guild, regarding text to speech for Kindle 2.
I am in Montreal right now, and missed the Right Rights Coalition demonstration at the Authors Guild. Manon, Judit and Malini from our office are in NYC at the demonstration, and said it was incredibly moving. Several people at the protest sent reports by tweeter. The most complete was probably Abraham Lloyd. This was his account, with the Tweets organized from his first to last.
The Authors Guild is claiming text to speech functions in software programs and e-book readers violate their copyrights, and should be turned off unless they are paid more for the extra functionality. Obviously the geniuses among the Authors Guild are on to something. There are many similar areas of functionality to be exploited by the Authors Guild. Here are some thoughts on how the Guild might squeeze more money from readers, if they want to expand upon their new anti-consumer business strategy: