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

Steve Jacobson steve.jacobson at visi.com
Fri Feb 13 23:45:55 UTC 2009


My understanding is that the Author's Guild is objecting to the public having books in a form that allows a machine to 
read them.  My guess is that they would say that our reading was accomplished by the granting of special permission to 
us as was commonly done in the past and that the law you cited also grants us an exception.  However, it seems clear 
to me that making the statements that they have made very clearly slows down our accessibility to mainstream books 
through mainstream channels that we could otherwise have and the argument seems ridiculous to me.  I wonder when 
they're going to say that parents can't read alloud to kids because buying the book means that a parent only has a 
license for their own reading and that reading to someone else without permission is violating the license.  After all, that 
is what software often does.  

Best regards,

Steve Jacobson

On Fri, 13 Feb 2009 08:55:11 -0600, Ray Foret jr wrote:

>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::
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>----- 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.

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