Authors´ Guild vs. reality: Kindles and read-aloud

From the article:

"I think there's plenty not to like about the Kindle -- the DRM, the proprietary file format, both imposed on authors and publishers even if they don't want it -- and about Amazon's real audiobook section, Audible (the DRM -- again, imposed on authors and publishers even if they'd prefer not to use it). But if there's one thing Amazon has demonstrated, it's that it plans on selling several bazillion metric tons of audiobooks. They control something like 90 percent of the market. To accuse them of setting out to destroy it just doesn't pass the giggle-test."

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Comment by I. J. Parker on February 28, 2009 at 4:34am
I see from an e-mail from my agent that Google Books will settle its Authors Guild law suit. Looks like I'll have to fill out some forms to get a very small amount of money. But as long as monetary penalties are likely for stealing our stuff, there's some hope. They'll desist when we hurt them in the pocket book.
Comment by John Dishon on February 28, 2009 at 1:29am
Thanks for the link. It's a good article. The proprietary nature of the Kindle edition e-book is the main reason I don't like the Kindle.
Comment by B.R.Stateham on February 28, 2009 at 1:18am
John--found an interesting article about the Kindle that I thought you might be interested in. It's at

Frankly, if you ask me, the way Amazon is packaging and selling its Kindle is really a Frankenstein trying to take over the world.
Comment by I. J. Parker on February 28, 2009 at 12:41am
Not sure what will happen in the future. The audio book companies may take it to court. If Kindle continues, or wins, then authors and their agents will have to handle electronic rights differently in the future.
Comment by John Dishon on February 27, 2009 at 8:50am
Well, it seems to me to come down to whether or not the Kindle's text to speech function counts as a derivative work. If it does, then yeah I can agree with it being handled the same as audio rights. But if it's not, then I don't. I don't think it doe count as a derivative work since it is not in a fixed medium. That would be something for the courts to decide, but I wonder if it will go to court.

The Author's Guild has complained about it, but hasn't said what solution they are looking for. Do they want the Kindle to not have TTS or do they just want to pressure Amazon somehow or something else?
Comment by I. J. Parker on February 27, 2009 at 8:43am
Darn tootin' it's a separate contract. I have 6 separate contracts with Random House for audio books. They have paid me! Why should I lose that to Kindle (which pays me nothing because they use electronic rights that are part of the print contract I have with Penguin? All print contracts these days automatically include electronic rights.
Comment by B.R.Stateham on February 27, 2009 at 8:15am
I think most authors believe Amazon is selling the printed form of their works. Audio portions, in any form of reproduction, is a separate contract, right?

John, what if the intent of Amazon and its Kindle 2 reader is sell more product--but not pay for the audio rights? The only way to prove or disprove that allegation is by going to court. That's why I am saying this is an issue that is court-bound.
Comment by Pepper Smith on February 27, 2009 at 8:10am
Actually, it was in reply to the question about whether there's a suit against Amazon or not.

I don't think I'd find listening to a mechanical voice reading a book all that enjoyable. It's not a function I think I'd use much if I had a Kindle 2.
Comment by John Dishon on February 27, 2009 at 8:03am
That's interesting, but what does that have to do with Kindle 2 and text to speech technology?
Comment by Pepper Smith on February 27, 2009 at 7:36am
Amazon recently acquired a POD printing operation (BookSurge, I think), which from what I heard has done a less than stellar job of producing attractive, readable books. They've also recently changed their policy--any POD books offered through Amazon's one-click buy program have to be printed through their POD operation. Supposedly this is to keep space freed-up in their warehouses, but the reports I'd heard were that the printer is rather slow getting books printed and shipped out. Other POD books are still listed on Amazon, but you have to click through to the other sellers page to order them, and they won't be shipped with anything else you order if the company opts not to have their books printed by BookSurge. (Printing them with BookSurge requires additional costs per book, which are difficult for the small publishers who use them to come up with since their profit margins are so small already. Plus, Amazon wants to set the price, if I'm remembering correctly.) The contract Amazon requires publishers to sign is something of a mystery, because those who sign it are sworn to secrecy, unable due to the contract's terms to comment on what they've agreed to.

There have been efforts to get the government to do something about Amazon's actions, but as what they're doing isn't in violation of monopoly laws or anything, the government won't act on it. I think there was a move to get legal action taken, but I've lost the link the the information clearinghouse on that.

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