Wil Wheaton vs. Authors' Guild vs. Kindle

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57 Responses to “Wil Wheaton vs. Authors' Guild vs. Kindle”

  1. psymonkey says:

    Through out this whole thing I’m surprised no one has mentioned, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Legally this should be an open and shut case for amazon. They can just say that it helps the visually impaired. case closed.

    Now a braille kindle that would be crossing the lines and taking a market cut out of the Author’s Guild braille books.

  2. mr_josh says:

    I just think it’s funny… not even funny… interesting that no matter the profession, no matter how intelligent and critical the people of said profession, they will at some point forsake logic and an interest in technological advancement in order to cling stubbornly to a tradition.

    Things change. Jobs evolve. I hope that these authors that are clinging to their business model are also standing in complete solidarity with the auto industry. Their union didn’t want anything to change, either, and here we are. And the newsprint business, I hope they’re doing everything that they can to save that.

  3. IamInnocent says:

    The Guild direction is just going through the moves of justifying whatever pay they get: this will never fly in a justice court.
    Not only would I bet all my money that a machine won’t ever come close to rival a competent human actor, but they’ll never convince a judge that there is a difference in rights between paying someone to read me the book and buying a machine that will do that for me.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I should say that even as I have vehemantly maintained that normal use of the TTS funcion is NOT infringement under U.S. Copyright law, it may well violate the contract that Amazon has with the copyright holders. I have no knowledge of the details of those contracts. The Author’s Guild certainly has the option of adding an anti-TTS clause in all future contracts, or asking for more money because of Kindle’s TTS. So I suspect that this is just an attempt to get retroactive payments by claiming (wrongly IMHO) that TTS somehow infringes copyright.

  5. Halloween Jack says:

    #16 Charles Platt: Well, I think that the principle is that, once you sell me a book, that book is mine. If I want to turn around and resell it to someone else, that’s my right. If I want to lend it out to others, either by donating it to a library or sending it out via an online book-sharing Web 2.o thingy, that’s my right. If I want to use it for toilet paper or kindling, that’s my right. And if I want to use a text-to-speech program so that a friend who is legally blind can enjoy it in the same way, and at the same cost, as any of my other friends can… say it with me, people!

    Alternatively, you can deny fair use of the book by insisting on some shitty, clunky DRM system, but not only will that fare as well as DRM systems in the music industry (as well as those that you cite; sorry, but they really haven’t been effective, try reading some of Cory’s posts on this blog about them if you don’t want to seem foolish), but, frankly, it will discourage people from reading anything that you would publish in an electronic format. The convenience of distributing books via Kindle will more than make up for any theoretical loss of audiobook sales. It’s your decision.

  6. baconner says:

    I can read books out loud. perhaps i should be made illegal as well.

  7. jjasper says:

    tomrigid @ # 42 -”Build a robot”? Look, a text-to-speech-synthesis program is not a performance, it’s analogous to changing the font – like for a large print book.

    e-books already have variable font size. By allowing a book to be sold in an electronic edition, the copyright owners are going to have to be OK with things like screen size modification, or if we decide it’s close enough to text size, then with (or color, or font) text-to-speech-synthesis.

    Changing the font size on an ebook is not a violation of rights or a performance, so why is putting it into a speech-synthesis program?

  8. jjasper says:

    @ tomrigid, # 32 – so if I change the font, I’m also creating a “derivative work”?

    I don’t think TTS is substantially different in the sense that a TV show or a play would be. It’s not “based” on the author’s work, it is the authors’ work, and putting the text into a speech synthesizer isn’t altering it, it’s simply reformatting it for the blind. It’s not even a translation into another language.

  9. Jeff says:

    Tomridge said, “This starts with Sony v. Universal, moves through Napster, and leaves us with a pretty clear idea of what to expect: TTS enables infringement, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. To the extent that Amazon seeks to promote the infringing use and profit by it, they’ll be called to account.”

    How do you think they will profit from this? I mean, how would you know if the customer buys the book to read or listen to? This audio feature will only help blind people too poor to buy real audio books, or who don’t have a good audio library near by. And who wants to tell a poor blind person, or some person who can’t read, that they shouldn’t listen to a book? Not me. I’d want to make sure my book DID have this option just to help those who really need it. It’s not all about the money, right?

  10. Charles Platt says:

    People are already selling “spoken word” texts on eBay (via download, or on CD-ROM) that use speech synthesis. I find it unlistenable, you may find it unlistenable, but apparently some people can tolerate it even now, at its most primitive stage.

    Therefore it is not premature to establish a precedent in this area. If an author owns spoken-word rights, why shouldn’t he receive royalties from a large and profitable business such as Amazon, if Amazon sells a device that enables the text to be spoken?

    I am fully aware of all the practical problems associated with this. But if it’s a matter of principle, I think the principle should be that writers should be able to protect their work. Whether they choose to do so is of course up to them.

    Video game publishers protect their products successfully, much of the time. Satellite TV companies now protect their signals almost totally successfully, after a previous era in which weak encryption allowed rampant piracy. People can and do live uncomplainingly with DRM in some media.

    I don’t see why text and spoken-word should be any different. It’s unfortunate that clueless entities such as RIAA have roused backlash to the point where the concept of defending one’s digital rights has become associated with litigious Luddites.

  11. Takuan says:

    thanks Bil, most helpful, Now, this mandatory deposit in the US; does that mean anyone can still access these works that I own all rights to? I am sure that in actual practice people are effectively silenced and forgotten by the annoyed powerful by traditional means (litigation snowstorms and hired assassins etc), but in a time where it will soon be common for all a writer’s output to live online only, the process for making unpersons will change too.

  12. Sc0tts0 says:

    The real point is that you have to look at the future. Sure, right now its all monotone robotic voice. But compare the text2speech on the kindle right now to Wargames back in the day. Huge difference. Now extrapolate that to 10 or 20 years from now. It’s a pretty safe bet 10 or 20 years from now the monotone robotic voice will be indistinguishable from a human reading the story. If you think otherwise you are not paying attention.

  13. MomentEye says:

    I agree with ScottSo.
    Will’s stunt comes off like a one of those cartoonists that drew pictures of Darwin as a monkey.
    BoingBoing2050 will replay this clip and hyper-LOL.

    The audiobook industry is right to be worried. But they probably don’t stand a chance. Eventually release in different mediums will be as archaic as region codes.

    You’ll buy the content. Which is the bit you want.

  14. overunger says:

    Everything else aside, i was impressed with the natural sound of the computer voice(not counting the staccato, weird inflections). I thought it was going to be the old Stephen Hawking-esque voice. Yeah, I can see in a few years not only a smooth, correct inflection-ed voice, but probably a programmable voice synthesizer- where you can change the voice to whomever you fancy. Imagine John Hodgman reading Dickens or -ooh!- John Houston reading Lord of the Rings!

  15. Clyde Radcliff says:

    A while back, having run out of books on Cory’s podcast, I tried creating my own techno-Cory using the best text to speech I could find and the text of his e-books.
    Even with a program that can master the intonation and rhythm of sentences, it still has no sense of the drama of what its reading. Action plods by at the same pace as thoughtful reflection, and key concepts gabble past without emphasis.

    I’d say that to match audio books, the text would either need to be meta tagged with emotions that the text to speech could use, or the code would have to be advanced enough to read and understand the drama of what its reading.

    And when computers can truly read and comprehend a story, audiobooks will be the least of the Authors guild’s problems. Because, chances are, computers will be generating interactive fiction to order.

  16. bililoquy says:

    JEFF @ 36:

    This, at least, isn’t messy at all. Of course Amazon profits from it. It’s a heavily-promoted feature on a commercial product. They wouldn’t have incorporated/advertised the feature if they didn’t expect to profit.

    And people: at least read Roy Blount’s article.

    In fact, publishers, authors and American copyright laws have long provided for free audio availability to the blind and the guild is all for technologies that expand that availability. (The federation [for the blind], though, points out that blind readers can’t independently use the Kindle 2’s visual, on-screen controls.)

    So this is in no way a disability matter.

    Finally: no one who is “poor” by any tenable definition owns a Kindle. It is an upper-middle class luxury item.

    Again, what TTS means is that ebooks are more valuable, and that authors/agents may want to negotiate contracts for electronic rights accordingly. The fact should certainly be reflected in future transactions between publishers and Amazon. It is understandable that owners of rights already sold would be miffed over having sold something more valuable than they realized, but attempts at legal recourse would probably be unwise and misguided.

    TAKUAN:

    My understanding is that the Library of Congress is accessible to anyone, but it may take several rounds of appointments, etc. for the layman. Professional researchers have it a few shades easier.

    In practice, I doubt many works become more (rather than less) obscure through the sale of rights. Though there were interesting discussions on persistence of copyright, obscurity, and public domain in the Conan thread the other day.

  17. dimmer says:

    Amazon caved: the T2S facility is now controlled by the publisher. Damn weak Jeff, damn weak.

  18. HollywoodBob says:

    Considering there have been myriads of ebook programs with text2speech, I don’t see what the big uproar is about. Seems to me that Roy Blunt Jr. is a little behind the times.

  19. Anonymous says:

    @ Charles Platt, #16:
    “People are already selling “spoken word” texts on eBay (via download, or on CD-ROM) that use speech synthesis.”

    The creation and selling of those CDs is illegal under curent copyright law. They are derivative works created without a license from the copyright holder.

    Those opposing Blount’s argument are saying that TTS does not create a derivative work. They are correct.

    @ Hallowen Jack, #34:

    You’re conflating the Doctrine of First Sale: “Well, I think that the principle is that, once you sell me a book, that book is mine. If I want to turn around and resell it to someone else, that’s my right. If I want to lend it out to others, either by donating it to a library…”

    with creating a derivative work:
    “… or sending it out via an online book-sharing Web 2.o thingy, that’s my right.”

    Otherwise, you’re correct. I’m replying to you ‘cos you’re another who replied to Poor Charles. Here I thought he’d so fallen from grace that none here would deign to reply…

  20. blutec says:

    The computer talking/reading is like you copy a book/text in the style of “threat letters” (cutting words from papers and paste it on a sheet of paper).

  21. tomrigid says:

    JJasper #35,

    I don’t think TTS is substantially different in the sense that a TV show or a play would be. It’s not “based” on the author’s work, it is the authors’ work, and putting the text into a speech synthesizer isn’t altering it, it’s simply reformatting it for the blind. It’s not even a translation into another language.

    Avoiding the issue of ADA/blind access for the moment…

    If I built a robot that could read books out loud to whomever would listen, and then I bought a book and gave it to the robot to read, would that be like a Kindle’s TTS? If I charged money for the service would I be infringing?

    I’ve bought the book, right? The purchase of a book comes with some rights, though I’m sure Amazon EULAgizes their ebooks up the butt to make Kindle-owners little more than book-renters, but still…it’s a book, more or less, and you have some limited protections in how you use it. So I give it to the robot and collect my money.

    The “product” is not just the book, however — text-on-page which I’ve purchased — it’s the book plus the speaking robot, which I’m selling to make a buck. It’s derived from the original work, but I only had a license for the original. I’m not allowed to sell what I make of it unless I’ve substantially transformed it, plus like three other bits of fair use vaguery.

    Or I can negotiate for the additional right to robot performances…for a bit of coin, maybe. That’s just how I see it, to be Blount.

  22. Brainspore says:

    @ #17 posted by Sc0tts0:

    The real point is that you have to look at the future. Sure, right now its all monotone robotic voice. But compare the text2speech on the kindle right now to Wargames back in the day. Huge difference. Now extrapolate that to 10 or 20 years from now. It’s a pretty safe bet 10 or 20 years from now the monotone robotic voice will be indistinguishable from a human reading the story. If you think otherwise you are not paying attention.

    If you’re paying so much attention then you must have noticed that computer speech today is virtually indistinguishable from computer speech 20 years AGO. Barring incredible advances in AI (as in, the ability to parse metaphors and accurately interpret the emotional content of text) it’s not going to get all that much better.

    Of course, the quality of the technology is beside the point anyway. The point is that I should be able to experience the book I’ve purchased in any way I see fit.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      The real point is that you have to look at the future.

      Yeah, in twenty years only five percent of the population will be able to read anything more nuanced than a street sign. Then the Author’s Guild will be suing Amazon for Kindle XXIII including software that converts audiobooks to print.

  23. tomrigid says:

    Tomrigid #35,

    You might know what you’re talking about, but you probably do not. You’re lucky these people are so bloody polite.

  24. tomrigid says:

    Ahem, that should read “Tomrigid #39″

    Self-deprecating commentary, meet epic fail. I’m out.

    le sigh

  25. LOLvis says:

    This is really a superfluous point, since they’re already wrong on so many more fundamental points, but I still want to say it…

    The ‘slippery slope’ argument is just *wierd*, considering the unlikelihood that this technology will ever challenge authors’ own readings of their work: the first barrier is having a voice that flows well enough to really sound like human speech. That’s the only part that’s remotely foreseeable. It’ll hurt the market for totally flat, uninspired readings. There are enough of those in audiobooks that the industry will surely feel it, but protecting crap from even-more-cheaply-produced crap is hardly a cause to champion.

    To do any better than a listenable but emotionally void reading will take human-like AI. And then, to finally compete with a good voice actor, that human-like AI will need human experience (real or simulated) to provide any depth of understanding of what it’s reading.

    Even after we’re that far into science fiction, the authors’ own reading is untouched because only the author knows exactly what was going on in his or her head when the story went down on paper. That’s why I and many others will always take an audiobook from the author over another reader… There’s always the chance that you’ll pick up some nuance from the reading that didn’t come across in print, and when it comes from the original author you know that that extra tidbit is an authentic part of the story.

    So basically the only group the Authors’ Guild DON’T stand to protect here, no matter how much benefit of the doubt you give them, are the actual authors.

  26. Jeff says:

    Here’s a plug for Wil, who will be a guest at PENGUICON 7.0 in Detroit this May 1,2,3. We’re really looking forward to seeing you Wil! You’re going to love Romulus in the spring time!

    With regard to the post: this issue should die a quick death. No one will be able to listen to that machine voice for long. I lasted 25 seconds and switched it off. Humans want to hear human voices read to them and we’re a long way from that.

  27. Anonymous says:

    The ironic thing is that by recording and distributing the TTS audio, Mr. Wheaton HAS infringed upon the rights of the copyright holder. Now before the flameware starts, I certainly believe that this IS an example of “fair use.” But because he has fixed and distributed this derivative work, a fair use analysis has to be made. Whereas in my opinion, private use of the TTS function simply doesn’t infringe upon any of the rights granted to the copyright holder.

  28. gollux says:

    But text-to-speech is so much better than it used to be! Until you go through sitting through 10 minutes of weird voice inflections and things like insert “duvduh into the drive”.

    Listening to Gutenberg books probably works the best, but as you are sitting there, you have some really weird pronunciation which makes you go “What???” and the concentration on the story turns into concentration on the alien sitting there trying to decipher human creations. It’s still quite disconcerting and breaks the storytelling something aweful.

    The 16k voices are a lot better, the pronunciation is a lot better, but not the same thing as a voice actor tuned to the story he’s reading.

  29. SC_Wolf says:

    I kept expecting this thing to stop in the middle of Wil’s story, and start enumerating Scientology’s crimes.

  30. closetpacifist says:

    The thing which strikes me about this situation is that it’s not, presumably, illegal to read a book out loud yourself, so long as you’re doing it more or less in private – the same sort of situations in which you’d expect it to be fine showing a home VHS/DVD. So why does replacing the human reading a book to themself or to their child or to some of their friends with a computer change anything?

    As long as the venue’s still private and no money or copies of the performance are being exchanged, why should the humanity of the reader change anything?

    I guess when you get down to it, this is really a robot rights issue. :P

  31. Kytsune says:

    The whole argument from the Guild makes me wonder how far away this is from me changing the display-font and projecting the work onto the wall. I have certainly transformed the work, and I’ve made it display somewhere else.

    What if some manufacturer permitted me to shift the display to a computer screen?

    What about a manufacturer that gave me the ability to “play” the page out through a Braille display?

    All of the above are pretty much the same type of transformation as in they’re NOT going through the epaper of the Kindle’s main display.

    The fact salient to copyright, I feel, is that none of the above produce a copy! Every single ons is an ethereal transform that ceases to be after I turn the device off. These are modes of access, not copy.

    Dear Guild: Any media product that I purchase that I cannot access in a way that is convenient to me I will consider maladaptive and possibly broken. I purchase media to consume it; I purchase equipment to access it. Grow up, please.

  32. nosehat says:

    He should have made a torrent. I can’t download the mp3 from his site. However, I’ve heard enough speech to text software to understand what his demonstration will show.

    Also, I think your blog post headline should read:

    (Wil Wheaton vs. Kindle) vs. Authors Guild

  33. Anonymous says:

    Obviously, the whole AG argument is spurious, but to be scrupulously fair, the statement by them included concerns not about text-to-speech /today/ but the magical text-to-speech of /tomorrow/.

    You know, when text processing and DSP tech has got so good that your text-to-speech thingy can be fed a book, look up the author name on Google or Amazon, and attempt a near-perfect reproduction using the recognizable accent of your choice with near-perfect timbre and timing.

    That’s how forward-thinking they are.

    As a software/hardware guy, I want to be frozen so I can live to see the day computers are that good. As a software/hardware guy I can tell you not to bet on this sort of tech being available to a kindle-type device in many human lifespans.

  34. Wordguy says:

    @#4 Redsquares: “No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.” -Samuel Johnson

  35. FoetusNail says:

    For me the difference is not any of the Human vs. whatever angle, or if AI will ever be good enough to replace a human actor, but did they pay for the book.

    If people are selling spoken word versions of books without an agreement to do so, then no that would be unethical. However, in this case the consumer has paid for the book. The author has received their share of the $9.99, for bestsellers, so they should be satisfied. I would bet, people rarely purchase both the book and the spoken word releases. Amazon should offer downloads of the spoken word editions.

    My wife often listens to spoken word editions, checked out from the library. Has anyone seen the Playaway, self playing digital audio book? The one I’m holding now is Neil Gaiman’s “Anansi Boys”, performed by Lenny Henry. A thousand people may listen to this performance purchased by the library. Isn’t that really doing more legal damage than even audio books sold on ebay?

  36. Jeff says:

    #38 said, “This isn’t messy at all. Of course Amazon profits from it. It’s a heavily-promoted feature on a commercial product. They wouldn’t have incorporated/advertised the feature if they didn’t expect to profit.”

    Just because something is heavily promoted does not mean there is profit, at least not from that which is being promoted. It’s a lost lead, just a gimmick to get people to think they’re really getting a value, which unless you’re blind, you’re not. They’ll sell more books that’s all. Sorry, the guild is going to have to make a better case.

  37. SamSam says:

    I think Sc0tts0 and MomentEye are correct.

    There are planty of reasons why the Author’s Guild is being silly about this. However, the argument that the TTS voices are not good enough is NOT one of them. There is no question that in 10-20 years these voices are going to be many, many times better, and we’ll look back on these voices and laugh.

    Imagine 10 years ago someone worked out how to make crappy-looking computer-generated 3D versions of real actors, and tried to make a movie. Some people got worried about the legal ramifications, but everyone else just laughed, because the 3D versions were so crappy. Now project that 5 years in the future.

    @ LOLvis:

    I think that we will be very surprised at how much better the voices will be than we think. For starters, they certainly won’t be “flat,” but will have the ability to change their tone for quoted speech, questions and exclamations (as they already do, to some extent). After that it’s not too unlikely that the program will be able to work out the names of the characters — who’s talking — and be able to do different voices. Indeed, this could even be tagged in as meta-data in the text. Working out some semblance of the emotional tone wouldn’t be too far from that.

    Sure, it will probably never sound great, but it will sound very good. And when very good = free and even better = $$, many people will opt for very good.

  38. bililoquy says:

    JEFF @ 45:

    I’m not making the Guild’s case. I’m not even saying Amazon is wrong to profit from the feature. I am saying that Amazon believes this feature has market value and intends to profit from it. That’s just common business sense.

  39. bililoquy says:

    FOETUSNAIL @ 26:

    Neither authors nor publishers make $9.99 when you buy a book on Kindle. Amazon takes a large percentage, and WSJ speculates that Amazon may try to pay less for the content they sell. (One indie press calls Kindle sales essentially a loss-leader.)

    Honestly, I suspect that is what lies at the bottom of this for many people, and prompts the Author’s Guild to focus on Amazon rather than their own publishers. To the Guild, it must seem like Amazon gets a whole lot for just a little bit of money. Which is essentially true. But once again, it falls on publishers to negotiate more amenable terms.

  40. bililoquy says:

    REDSQUARES @ 4:

    I keep thinking: do I want to read material by someone who writes solely for money? Being as it is an art form, shouldn’t one write to express *something* first, and be happy and humble when people are willing to pay for it?

    Oh, come on.

    Hardly anyone writes solely for the money. The pay is poor and the work time-consuming. If you’re out to make a quick buck, there are a thousand better and likelier ways. Many, many reasonably well-known writers work day jobs. And plenty of those writers struggle to make ends meet.

    The particulars of this case and past Guild sillinesses aside: authors have bills and a limited amount of time, and they’re not here to meekly submit their work for your consideration. It’s good that there’s an organization dedicated to protecting authors’ rights. Whether the organization is doing a good job or not — well, that’s what’s up for discussion here.

  41. Brainspore says:

    Damn, now I’m just thinking about what kind of rights would be involved in adapting a novel into a holodeck simulation.

  42. igpajo says:

    I don’t think anyone involved in the audiobook industry has any reason to feel threatened by this. I would gladly pay to hear people like Neil Gaiman read their own works over this text to speech thing. I couldn’t even sit through the 5 minutes that Will Wheaton presented in that mp3. The voice is grating and emotionless and was like listening to fingernails on a chalkboard compared to Will’s reading.
    Let it be.
    And as someone on Will’s site mentioned, this is a great feature for the sight impaired, if for nothing else but the newspapers.

  43. bardfinn says:

    One. Last. Time.

    Amazon does not sell a device that allows text to be spoken. Machines cannot speak. It is /speech synthesis/. It is a variety of sounds that are recognisable — but not entirely canny — imitations human speech.

    Imitation chocolate is not chocolate.

    Imitation vanilla is not vanilla.

    Imitation depictions of humans are not humans.

    Imitation speech is not speech. Machines do not speak. As soon as machines speak – rather than produce an imitation thereof – we are enslaving them.

  44. dexdoomsday says:

    Go Wil

  45. redsquares says:

    I keep thinking: do I want to read material by someone who writes solely for money? Being as it is an art form, shouldn’t one write to express *something* first, and be happy and humble when people are willing to pay for it?

    One day, robots will pick up on oral tradition. Until then, I will listen to audio books in a special sound-proof bunker, as not to leak the stories unto prying ears. I will read books with the creeping paranoia of someone peering over my shoulder. I will refuse funding for literacy, lest a library is utilized…

  46. Gelfin says:

    Well, after hearing the two, I have totally changed my position. This is totally going to put actors out of work.

    (Kidding, Wil!)

  47. manicbassman says:

    ah, but some authors in the Authors guild feel threatened because they posit that the text-to-speech engines will improve so that you can’t tell it’s not a real human speaking… they want to stop this “nonsense” right now… before their lucrative audiobook market is destroyed

  48. Takuan says:

    re: authors, rights and works ownership: if I purchase every single conceivable right over an authors work – and then destroy all those works (at least in the electronic world), is that a crime? Isn’t it possible for those with money to obliterate the memory and existence of an author at will?

  49. tomrigid says:

    “I don’t like TTS, it can’t compare to an audiobook, so it’ll never be an issue.”

    That’s the gist of what I’m reading here, and it’s irrelevant in the copyright debate. TTS is not a substitute for an audiobook, though it might harm the market for them in some marginal way; TTS is a different service, delivering a different product, and that product is a derivative of the author’s work. As such, under the law (like it or not) it’s subject to copyright protection and Amazon will have to respect that.

    I’ve spent a fair bit of time on commercial fishing boats, floating out on the Pacific, ready to sashimi the hell out of anything slow enough to catch. It’s boring out there, especially early or late in the season when the clouds and mists envelop you in an atmospheric sensory-deprivation chamber, and some days go by with nothing but the robotic voice of the weather report for company. You can get used to it, under the right circumstances.

    This starts with Sony v. Universal, moves through Napster, and leaves us with a pretty clear idea of what to expect: TTS enables infringement, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. To the extent that Amazon seeks to promote the infringing use and profit by it, they’ll be called to account.

  50. Gelfin says:

    Ever seen a Markov chainer in action? It’s not even self-aware. Machines will be able to write the damned books before they’re able to read them with feeling that sounds human to humans.

  51. cory says:

    If you want to hear Wil doing something totally hilarious, and especially if you have any interest in roleplaying games, I recommend listening to him play Dungeons and Dragons with the Penny Arcade guys.

  52. Antinous / Moderator says:

    I’m going to stop worrying about robots taking over the world. At least until they can say ‘dick’ with a little more conviction.

  53. Anonymous says:

    Considering that the speech system on our public buses can’t even pronounce “Vancouver” properly, I don’t think there’s a danger of this technology replacing a human performance.

  54. Johnny Cat says:

    The text2speech had a breathing sound. Breathing! To paraphrase Captain Picard, “Oh, shut up, Text 2 Speech!”

  55. Signal30 says:

    Huh… first time I’ve made the connection that it’s that Roy Blount Jr. who is getting all pissy… for a humorist, he seems pretty churlish. But ultimately it just seems more like an effort to extract some extra royalties from the makers of the Kindle thing.

    Personally, I rather just read the damned book, but that’s me.

  56. bililoquy says:

    Takuan @ 31:

    Technically, I suppose it would be possible for you to buy all exclusive international rights in perpetuity, but that would be…unusual, to say the least, and there’d be a hefty price-tag involved. Especially if the work belonged to a writer who was at all likely to be remembered in the first place. Realistically, hardly any remotely experienced authors would agree to such a deal.

    But that scenario is highly unlikely for a number of reasons, not least of which the fact that (in the States, at least) publishers are required to make a “mandatory deposit” of all purchased copyrights at the Library of Congress — even those they don’t intend to publish.

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