So it looks like we may have to withdraw at least some of our titles from the Kindle as the Wall Street Journal reports:
Some publishers and agents expressed concern over a new, experimental feature that reads text aloud with a computer-generated voice.
“They don’t have the right to read a book out loud,” said Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild. “That’s an audio right, which is derivative under copyright law.”
An Amazon spokesman noted the text-reading feature depends on text-to-speech technology, and that listeners won’t confuse it with the audiobook experience. Amazon owns Audible, a leading audiobook provider.
We queried our contact at Amazon and he said:
The ability to read text aloud is very different from producing an audio version of a written work, so audio distribution rights are not required for any titles currently available as eBooks in the Kindle store.
But the difference is that the Kindle is specifically a reading device, so customers can buy the ebook—and get it read to them, which is a different product and right, an audiobook—whereas a computer is a multifunction device. We’re happy that computers have text-to-speech capabilities for visually impaired readers but this seems to be directly impinging on an author’s rights. Hmm.