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Amazon agrees to cripple Kindle 2

In a victory for neo-Luddites the Author's Guild, Amazon has announced its intention to disable the speech to text function its new Kindle 2 ebook reader. Amazon announced its intention to selectively disable the device following criticism from the Author's Guild President Roy Blount Jnr. that the Kindle 2 would undermine the billion dollar a year audiobook market.

In a statement released to the press, Amazon argued that the text-to-speech feature was legal, but said that it would give authors the right to decide whether or not to disable the feature for their books:

'Kindle 2's experimental text-to-speech feature is legal: no copy is made, no derivative work is created, and no performance is being given... nevertheless, we strongly believe many rightsholders will be more comfortable with the text-to-speech feature if they are in the driver's seat... Therefore, we are modifying our systems so that rights holders can decide on a title by title basis whether they want text-to-speech enabled or disabled for any particular title.'

It's unclear if the Author's Guild plans to now campaign to receive royalties from all other text-to-speech programs, but its hollow victory is sure to be received poorly by the visually impaired and any other consumers who are forking out around $350 bucks for their new Kindle and want to actually use the legal functionality that it has been designed with.

Hopefully Amazon will flag up which cheapskate publishers have disabled the text to speech functionality of their books very clearly, so that Kindle users can be sure to vote with their wallets and boycott those responsible for this shameful decision.

[Via the New York Times]


Tags: amazon, hardware, kindle2, roy bount jnr, RoyBountJnr, text to speech, TextToSpeech

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