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.

Published by

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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