[Nfbc-info] National Federation of the Blind Responds to Authors Guild Statement on the Amazon Kindle 2

Freeh, Jessica JFreeh at nfb.org
Thu Feb 12 21:38:09 CST 2009


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Chris Danielsen
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)
<mailto:cdanielsen at nfb.org>cdanielsen at nfb.org

National Federation of the Blind Responds to Authors Guild
Statement on the Amazon Kindle 2

Baltimore, Maryland (February 12, 2009): The National Federation of 
the Blind, the largest organization of blind people in the United 
States, today responded to a statement put out by the Authors Guild 
advising its members to consider negotiating contracts prohibiting 
e-books to be read aloud by the new Amazon Kindle 2, which 
incorporates text-to-speech technology. The Authors Guild argues that 
the reading of a book out loud by a machine is a copyright 
infringement unless the copyright holder has specifically granted 
permission for the book to be read aloud.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, 
said: "The National Federation of the Blind supports all technologies 
that allow blind people to have better access to the printed word, 
including the ability of devices like the Kindle 2 to read commercial 
e-books aloud using text-to-speech technology. Although the Authors 
Guild claims that it supports making books accessible to the blind, 
its position on the inclusion of text-to-speech technology in the 
Kindle 2 is harmful to blind people. The Authors Guild says that 
having a book read aloud by a machine in the privacy of one's home or 
vehicle is a copyright infringement. But blind people routinely use 
readers, either human or machine, to access books that are not 
available in alternative formats like Braille or audio. Up until now, 
no one has argued that this is illegal, but now the Authors Guild 
says that it is. This is absolutely wrong. The blind and other 
readers have the right for books to be presented to us in the format 
that is most useful to us, and we are not violating copyright law as 
long as we use readers, either human or machine, for private rather 
than public listening. The key point is that reading aloud in private 
is the same whether done by a person or a machine, and reading aloud 
in private is never an infringement of copyright.

"Amazon has taken a step in the right direction by including 
text-to-speech technology for reading e-books aloud on its new Kindle 
2," Dr. Maurer continued. "We note, however, that the device itself 
cannot be used independently by a blind reader because the controls 
to download a book and begin reading it aloud are visual and 
therefore inaccessible to the blind. We urge Amazon to rectify this 
situation as soon as possible in order to make the Kindle 2 a device 
that truly can be used both by blind and sighted readers. By doing 
so, Amazon will make it possible for blind people to purchase a new 
book and begin reading it immediately, just as sighted people do."



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About the National Federation of the Blind

With more than 50,000 members, the National Federation of the Blind 
is the largest and most influential membership organization of blind 
people in the United States. The NFB improves blind people's lives 
through advocacy, education, research, technology, and programs 
encouraging independence and self-confidence. It is the leading force 
in the blindness field today and the voice of the nation's blind. In 
January 2004 the NFB opened the National Federation of the Blind 
Jernigan Institute, the first research and training center in the 
United States for the blind led by the blind.





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