Audio Rights and Wrongs

Paul Aitken, dir­ect­or of the Author’s Guild isn’t mus­tard-keen on a fea­ture of the new Amazon Kindle 2.0. If you down­load a book in text form, the Kindle will read it aloud.

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.”

These are Neil Gaiman’s thoughts:

My point of view: When you buy a book, you’re also buy­ing the right to read it aloud, have it read to you by any­one, read it to your chil­dren on long car trips, record your­self read­ing it and send that to your girl­friend etc. This is the same kind of thing, only without the abil­ity to do the voices prop­erly, and no-one’s going to con­fuse it with an audiobook. And that any authors’ soci­et­ies or pub­lish­ers who are think­ing of spend­ing money on fight­ing a fun­da­ment­ally point­less leg­al case would be much bet­ter off tak­ing that money and advert­ising and pro­mot­ing what audio books are and what’s good about them with it.

I agree entirely with Mr Gaiman — as a read­er, a listen­er and an author.

Neil Gaiman’s Journal: Quick argu­ment sum­mary

Props Daring Fireball and Boing Boing.

Author: Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

2 thoughts on “Audio Rights and Wrongs”

  1. One of the joys of old-fash­ioned ink-and-paper books is that you can pick up second-hand treas­ures for pen­nies (and without wor­ry­ing about pir­acy, copy­right-infringe­ment, or any of that busi­ness, either).

    Is there any pro­spect of a leg­al second-hand e-book trade emer­ging?

    The idea of set­ting off for Timbuktu with a 1000-volume lib­rary in your bag­gage train died out at about the same time (1909-ish?) when it ceased to be fash­ion­able (or per­haps eco­nom­ic­al) to have your port­ers carry a full-length cop­per bathtub and an ornate chan­delier for the mess-tent.

    Suddenly it seems this year, 2009, it’s going to be pos­sible again.

    But though e-books may with one stroke remove the cost of porter­age, the fin­an­cial obstacle, with ‘new’ e-books scarcely dis­coun­ted from the price of a paper­back, not only remains, but, in the absence of a second-hand mar­ket, could be mag­ni­fied many­fold.

    It’s hard to see how a leg­al mar­ket in ‘second-hand’ e-books could ever emerge — which is a blow not only to my dreams of tour­ing the world with my lib­rary in my jack­et pock­et, but also to the great num­ber of people who (like me) can afford to build a ‘hard-book’ lib­rary only thanks to the thriv­ing second-hand book mar­ket. If, ten years down the line, e-books become the norm and hard-books scarcely pro­duced or traded, what hope, short of pir­acy, for the fer­vent but cash-strapped book-worm?

  2. Hey Ed

    Hell, a team of burly port­ers who carry your chaise longue through the darkest parts of the Amazon seems like a cap­it­al idea non­ethe­less…

    I’d guess that pub­lish­ers aren’t head over heels about the cur­rent second-hand book mar­ket, let alone the nas­cent elec­tron­ic one. But could they really stop it? There’s the pub­lish­ing industry, like the weath­er, and then there’s lit­er­at­ure, like the cli­mate. Literature has oth­er pres­sures and wider con­cerns. The idea of exchan­ging books is so ingrained — I gave ‘Gentlemen of the Road’ and ‘The Dream Books of the Glass Eaters’ to two friends yes­ter­day — that it might just blast through pub­lish­ers’ con­cerns. Should authors be con­cerned? I don’t know. I think many of them would be happy that their books are being read. On the oth­er hand, if the second-hand mar­ket doesn’t pick up, for the reas­ons you spe­cify, maybe that in itself will apply the brakes to the elec­tron­ic pub­lish­ing world.

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