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

Ray Foret jr rforetjr at comcast.net
Fri Feb 13 14:55:11 UTC 2009

I can't help but wonder.  Has the Author's guild had their heads buried in 
the sand since 1934 or earlier?  Could they honestly be so stupid as to not 
have ever been aware of public law 89-522?  Were they un-aware that, for 
years, we, the blind, have been using talking books beginning in 1934 with 
vinyl phonograph records and with cassettes beginning at least in 1967 or 
so?  Wince comes this crazy outlandish statement that reading books allowed 
is a violation of copy right?  Are they really and consciously against the 
blind; or, perhaps just un-aware?  Well, what ever the case may happen to 
be, perhaps they will awaken to their senses now that we have responded in 
this fashion.  If not, then what?  Do we sue the entire author's guild; or, 
just target those individuals directly responsible for making that 
statement?  Something just strikes me all wrong about this sudden 
declaration upon the part of the author's guild; I mean really, that they 
should now just come right strait out and say that reading books allowed is 
a violation of copy right.  Smacks of prudential arrogance, in my humble 
opinion!!!  I also can't help but wonder.  How would they feel if one of 
their members went blind and did not want to or could not (for what ever 
reason) learn Braille?  Ah, then what?  Mind you, I don't wish that on any 
of their members; still and all, part of me can't help but ask the question. 
What next if they resist?  Well, no doubt we'll be taking further action I 
dare speculate.  I guess it gets harder "at the top of the stairs"; so to 
speak.  Most of me would, as I say, prefer to believe that this is a case of 
mere ignorance on their parts; but, somehow, I just cannot bring myself to 
that conclusion.  in the end, I'm coming down on the side that it's not 
accidental or ignorance; rather, it's a deliberate attack upon all the 
blind; and, for that matter, the sited illiterate of this country.  I'd 
rather peace, but, if it's war they want, damn it, let's go to war!!!!!

The Constantly BAREFOOTED Ray

"Old friend, what are you looking for?  After those many years abroad you 
come With images you tended Under foreign skies Far away from your own land"
George Seferis

Phone or Fax::
+1 (985) 360-3375
Skype Name:
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Freeh,Jessica (by way of David Andrews <dandrews at visi.com>)" 
<JFreeh at nfb.org>
To: <david.andrews at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Thursday, February 12, 2009 9:38 PM
Subject: [nfb-talk] National Federation of the Blind Responds to Authors 
Guild Statement on the Amazon Kindle 2


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."


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.

nfb-talk mailing list
nfb-talk at nfbnet.org

More information about the nFB-Talk mailing list