Amazon Altering Kindle Text-To-Speech To Appease Authors

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When Amazon announced the upcoming Kindle 2 e-reader, it’s text-to-audio feature worried a lot of authors and publishers, who saw the end of the audiobook and its income. But in a concession, Amazon has agreed to tweak the software, letting copyright owners decide whether the feature can be enabled or not, according to the Seattle Times.

However, in spite of that stand-down, Amazon has insisted the system is legal. It said:

"Kindle 2’s experimental text-to-speech feature is legal: no copy is made, no derivative work is created, and no performance is being given. Furthermore, we ourselves are a major participant in the professionally narrated audiobooks business through our subsidiaries Audible and Brilliance. We believe text-to-speech will introduce new customers to the convenience of listening to books and thereby grow the professionally narrated audiobooks business. Nevertheless, we strongly believe many rightsholders will be more comfortable with the text-to-speech feature if they are in the driver’s seat.”

“Therefore, we are modifying our systems so that rightsholders can decide on a title by title basis whether they want text-to-speech enabled or disabled for any particular title. We have already begun to work on the technical changes required to give authors and publishers that choice. With this new level of control, publishers and authors will be able to decide for themselves whether it is in their commercial interests to leave text-to-speech enabled. We believe many will decide that it is."