Report from protest for blind rights at Authors Guild yesterday

Tim from the Electronic Frontier Foundation sez,
Yesterday, hundreds of people gathered in front of the headquarters of The Authors Guild in New York City to protest the removal of text-to-speech capabilities in Amazon's new Kindle 2 ebook device.

You may remember a few months ago, when The Authors Guild claimed (falsely) that the text-to-speech feature violated copyright law, and forced Amazon to disable it.

Now, the people who would have benefited most from the new feature -- the blind, and others with reading disabilities -- have made it clear that they're not going to stand for it.

We've got photos and more on EFF's Deeplinks blog.

Disability Access Activists Gather to Protest Kindle DRM (Thanks, Tim!)


  1. The key here, I think, is to vote with our feet. Find out before you buy a Kindle version of a book if it has text-to-speech enabled or disabled. If it’s disabled, don’t buy it. Buy ONLY Kindle books that haven’t insisted on gimping the reasonable capabilities of the device you purchased. If the text-to-speech enabled books far outsell the gimped ones, that hits them in the only place that matters. The bottom line.

  2. I still don’t get how publishers think this will decrease the audience for audiobooks. Audiobooks have dramatic readings by (generally) excellent speakers. The Kindle just uses a robo-voice to read things. There is the whole “future technology will replicate human speech” argument, but I really don’t see that as a major concern.

    What they’re doing now by trying to eliminate this feature is just cutting down on the potential market for their books.

  3. Do we know the authors that support this idiocy? I for one would like to know which books not to buy. (print or electronic)

  4. I have a Kindle 2… The text to speech is not pleasant to listen to (although the female voice seems to be a bit better than the male). The computer voice doesn’t always pronounce words correctly which can be a little distracting. It’s an absurd fight over nothing. Audio Book listeners will continue to listen to Audio Books. I doubt they’d cough up the $359.00 to listen to a generic, synthetic voice when they can do what my mother does and check them out of the library for free.

  5. I’m still unsure as to how people capable of enough structured thought to write, presumably, at least one book thought it would be a good idea to publicly be jerks to blind people. I mean, how does that idea even fly?

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