Allow Everyone Access to E-books - Petition by the Reading Rights Coalition

Allow Everyone Access to E-books
Target: The Authors Guild
Sponsored by: The Reading Rights Coalition

When Amazon released the Kindle 2 electronic book reader on February 9, 2009, the company announced that the device would read e-books aloud using text-to-speech technology. Under pressure from the Authors Guild, Amazon has announced that it will give authors and publishers the ability to disable the text-to-speech function on any or all of their e-books available for the Kindle 2.

The Reading Rights Coalition, which represents people who cannot read print, will protest the threatened removal of the text-to-speech function from e-books for the Amazon Kindle 2 outside the Authors Guild headquarters in New York City at 31 East 32nd Street on April 7, 2009, from noon to 2:00 p.m. The coalition includes the organizations that represent the blind, people with dyslexia, people with learning or processing issues, seniors losing vision, people with spinal cord injuries, people recovering from strokes, and many others for whom the addition of text-to-speech on the Kindle 2 promised for the first time easy, mainstream access to over 245,000 books.When Amazon released the Kindle 2 electronic book reader on February 9, 2009, the company announced that the device would read e-books aloud using text-to-speech technology. Under pressure from the Authors Guild, Amazon has announced that it will give authors and publishers the ability to disable the text-to-speech function on any or all of their e-books available for the Kindle 2.

The Reading Rights Coalition, which represents people who cannot read print, will protest the threatened removal of the text-to-speech function from e-books for the Amazon Kindle 2 outside the Authors Guild headquarters in New York City at 31 East 32nd Street on April 7, 2009, from noon to 2:00 p.m. The coalition includes the organizations that represent the blind, people with dyslexia, people with learning or processing issues, seniors losing vision, people with spinal cord injuries, people recovering from strokes, and many others for whom the addition of text-to-speech on the Kindle 2 promised for the first time easy, mainstream access to over 245,000 books.

You can sign the petition here: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/We-Want-To-Read

Tags: Amazon, Author's Guild, Kindle, Kindle1, Reading Rights Coalition, petition, readingrights, text-to-speach, tts

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Context (and personal comment):

Andrew wrote a blog post here, A Thought About The Kindle E-Book Reader, on Jan. 9, 09.

In February, Amazon rolled out Kindle 2.0, whose text-to-speech feature raised the ire of the Author's Guild, who said it was tantamount to offering audio books, and hence subject to the payment of separate audio rights. Blind and reading-disabled people's associations, but also the EFF and several writers, disputed the Authors' Guild's claim.

However, Amazon, while still maintaining that the text-to-speech of the Kindle 2 was fully legal, chose to cave in and give authors and publishers the possibility to disable the text-to-speech in their e-books for the Kindle 2. Random House, for instance, has chosen to do so for all its books.

Hence the petition by the Reading Rights Coalition above.

Actually, the Kindle 2 is unusable by blind people (no keyboard shortcuts), it is DRM'd to the gills (impossible to transfer the Kindle e-books to your computer, even impossible to transfer your texts or the texts you legitimately own to the Kindle except by coughing up again to Amazon to have them transfer your stuff. And even if you could transfer the Kindle e-books to your computer, you couldn't read them there because they are in a proprietary, Kindle-only format. And Discovery is suing Amazon saying the DRM for the Kindle is under their (Discovery's) patent. So this looks rather like the final dinosaurs' battle in Jurassic Park.

However, the preposterous and dangerous attempt to pass off the use of text-to-speech as equivalent to offering audio books must be tackled first. Hence the petition.

PS: I'm gathering some links about the Kindle 2 and its text-to-speech under diigo.com/user/calmansi/kindle2

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