Disability Access Activists Gather to Protest Kindle DRM

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Comment by Dana King on April 11, 2009 at 6:00am
My biggest complaint with both Amazon and Google is that they seem confident everything exists solely so they can make money off of it. (Full disclosure: I use Amazon and Google quite a bit. They're too damned convenient. I never buy used books on Amazon, just books I can't get or find locally.) Neither seems to care much about where this content comes from, or who spent their own time and energy to create it; the only intellectual property rights they're interested in are what they created to drain profits from it. If the Author's Guild not shut down the text-to-voice feature of the Kindle and some other company had copied the technology, Amazon would have had them in court faster than a room gets dark when the light is turned out.

I try to stay out of too many of the "rights" discussions, as I have had nothing published other than online so far, so my experience is limited to what I read. Knowing what a pain it is to get even one type of rights sold, I'd love the idea of selling the rights--and the book--as a bundle, so long as I get proportionate value for the entire package. I'm good with the idea of someone making money from my work; it's what makes this all work. I also want my fair share. I'd rather not sell the book than have everyone but me make money from it.
Comment by John McFetridge on April 11, 2009 at 5:38am
I don't know much about cell phones, but my inderstanding is that the text messaging is really a function of the service contract you sign - not the hardware. Lots of things come with functions that need to be contracted for later - I have a TV that has the ability to receive lots of channels but I have to contract with the cable company to get them.

What gets me about this is that the makers of the Kindle knew perfectly well that audio and e-text right have been sold seperately to different companies for years. They knew that by combining those functions it would cause a contract problem for the rights that had already been sold. I imagine they're trying to force the issue so that in the future there'll be no such things as "audio rights" to a book and that they'll scoop up those sales as well. I kind of like the idea of more than one company involved just to keep that total monopoly at bay a little longer (though I do see it as inevitable).

I do think you'll start to see more books "bundled" with different formats. I'd like to give a link to an e-book of my books but right now those rights have been sold to a company that handle the e-book sales and tries to do specific e-book marketing. All these deals have pros and cons and are constantly evolving.

I do think people are giving companies like Amazon and Google an easy ride towards monopoly.
Comment by Dana King on April 11, 2009 at 5:30am
John D,
You're right about the unfairness to the consumer when functionality is taken away after sale, and the cell phone/text messaging analogy works for me. It also leaves out the key question here, as posed by John F. It's a contract law issue. Should everyone else who may be adversely affected by a component of your new phone/Kindle/mp3 player just have to suffer the consequences.

it seems to me the player who precipitated the entire mess is Amazon; it should be their burden to make people whole. They have come across with the Author's Guild; now maybe they should rebate some of the money paid for the new Kindles to compensate their customers who may have bought their product because it has a function the company no longer provides, and was presumptuous to assume it could provide it in the first place?
Comment by John Dishon on April 11, 2009 at 5:00am
I like your idea John. I'm planning to move to Taiwan in a year or so, and it would be nice if I had electronic versions of all the books I have because I won't be able to take them with me. If only a book came with a link to download an electronic version. If they did, I would buy an ebook reader right now.

The thing with the Kindle that annoys me is that the TTS feature was on the device, people bought it, and now it's being taken away, or will be in some cases. I don't like the idea of buying something, and then the company arbitrarily deciding to take away some feature or functionality that was there when I bought it. It's just not right.

It's like if you bought a cell phone and then all of a sudden, Sprint or Nokia take away the ability to send and receive text messages. Well, maybe if I couldn't text message, I wouldn't have bought that phone in the first place.
Comment by John McFetridge on April 11, 2009 at 4:50am
It's unfortunate when people willuse anything and anyone in their fight. This isn't an issue of copyright law or DRM, of course, it's an issue of contract law. The Author Guild's statement that the above article links to is actually quite clear and makes quite a bit of sense. It's too bad the article took only part of the statement and then dismissed the whole thing. The Kindle, as it is now, is simply innappropriate for any blind readers to use as it requires a fair amount of sight to operate.

People can keep trying to tie these kinds of issues together, but they're really not being honest about it. Maybe some of them don't even realize it - there's a fair amount of what only be called religious-like faith in the whole DRM and anti-copyright fight, but I do think plenty of people involved are really looking at a different long range plan than these short-term fights are about.

I always feel like I should state my personal preference which is to be able to sell a single "unit" of my book that can be read as an e-book, printed out in some kind POD book, listened to as an audio book (with whatever reader voice the buyer chooses) and maybe someday if animation technology gets there, to even cast the book as a movie and watch it. I'd like it if the consumer only had to buy one "unit" to be able to do all that, but that will require an amount of corporate "integration" that to be honest, worries me more than having to buy two versions of a single book from two different sources.

The goal of captialsim is monopoly and the highest possible profit. We should always keep that in mind.
Comment by Jon Loomis on April 11, 2009 at 2:32am
Yes. We could call them, I don't know, iPods. I saw some video of this protest and it was, I have to say, one of the most ridiculous bits of street theater I've ever witnessed. "Why don't authors want blind people to read?" Why don't blind people want authors to get paid for their work?
Comment by I. J. Parker on April 11, 2009 at 1:19am
I see that people claim god-given rights to read for free. There is a way to handle this. In the first place, most authors' books are already available in audio-format. Secondly, special Kindles could be sold to the visually impaired.

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