Sunday, March 01, 2009

Amazon Caves on Kindle

Without a shot being fired, other than some over the bow over the top op-ed rhetoric by the Authors Guild possibly based upon a fanciful and far-fetched "derivative works" theory, Amazon has caved in to the Guild on its useful new Kindle technology to "read aloud" an electronic version of a book using computer synthesized speech.

Larry Lessig is scathing and makes a comparison to the Google books settlement. One of the problems with that that comparison is that that Amazon has settled here without even seeing a claim filed.

Perhaps the reason can be found in the AP story thhat notes that Amazon admits that it, too, has an interest in audio books:
Amazon said in a statement that it, too, has a stake in the success of the audiobook market, and pointed to its Brilliance Audio and Audible subsidiaries, which publish and sell professionally recorded readings.

"Nevertheless, we strongly believe many rights holders will be more comfortable with the text-to-speech feature if they are in the driver's seat," the company said.
Once again, questions of cross ownership, vertical integration, voluntary stifling of innovation and almost forgotten anti-trust basic principles and near comatose antitrust enforcement come to mind.

This is tough luck for the blind, for all consumers and for innovative technology. Amazon owes a better explanation.

If there indeed is a "Kindle Swindle" underway here, it's the public interest that appears to be the most obvious victim at this point.


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