Saturday, February 14, 2009

in defense of the kindle robot voice

i started writing a comment on the kindle discussion below, and it kinda got away from me, so i thought i might as well post it as its own post since it goes off on something of a tangential direction than where the dialogue was headed.

one aspect that our discussion of the kindle articles hasn't touched on yet is that the authors guild is looking to control the way we interact with content that we have purchased.

while i agree that the idea of daft punk robots reading a books is nowhere near as good as trained voice actors or brad pitt or whatever, it misses a valuable point that should be addressed.

say you pay $9.99 for steve harvey's "act like a lady, think like a man" (no. 5 on the kindle best seller list). since you paid your money for that kindle file, why is it so wrong for a computer to read it out loud since that's something that modern technology has made possible?

the function that the kindle performs, making ebooks (more than likely legitimately purchased ebooks form the kindle store) audible, is much closer to fair use than it is to being a derivative use, and the fair use of owned content is something that is very much worth defending.

ultimately, i think the writers guild is looking for a cut of the kindle action since the kindle does something that is similar to (but not the same as) audio books. giving into them with this this cut sets up an interesting, and i believe negative, precedent which might discourage people (through threats of litigation) from inventing technologies which would translate written works into audible sounds. ultimately, we're talking about technologies that would benefit the blind and visually impaired more than anything else, and as such, fighting against this sort of ridiculous litigation is something we should be working towards.

1 comment:

  1. I was procrastinating last weekend and started reading Neil Gaiman's journal to help pass the time. He actually just mentioned this debate just last week. Here the link to the entry: