Earlier this week the NY Times published an opinion by Roy Blount Jr., president of the Authors Guild, railing against the Kindle’s Speach To Text feature, saying Amazon never paid for audio rights to the works it sells. Over in the Wall Street Journal, Paul Aiken of the same group claims it is illegal to have the machine read out loud, an infringement of Copyright law. I think we saw something similar with the SFWA Takedowns, where the leadership of a writers organization attempted to bite the hand that feeds it. And just like the last time, a whole lot of the authors they represent disagree. John Scalzi scoffs at the thought that a computer generated voice could match the quality of a human rendition, saying Yes, one is free and the other isn’t, but you do get what you pay for. Cory Doctorow points out that one part of the legal argument would end up concluding that email, web-browsers, computers, photocopiers, cameras, and typewriters are all illegal, too. Neil Gaiman points out that when you buy a book, you also buy the right’s 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…, and that this is the same sort of thing. And yes, I know I exceeded 25 words on the Gaiman quote, but his writings don’t lead me to believe he is the kind of person to sue me for plagiarism for supporting his opinion in public (since we are on a copyright topic, I thought I should mention that). Wil Wheaton brought Scalzi’s argument firmly home in his own post on the topic, with a downloadable MP3 of him reading a segment of text, followed by his computer reading the same passages. Since he was reading from a book he wrote, no one can give him any copyright grief either. So, the question is, what planet are the leadership of the Author’s Guild living on?
It is Christmas, which means if you are in the UK you had the opportunity to see the Dr Who Christmas Special; the rest of us will have to be content with this report from the BBC. It does give us some possible spoilers about the identity of the new Who. Fox, no longer happy with destroying and canceling its own science fiction programs and projects, has been attacking Warner Brothers to try to get the Watchmen stopped. Now it seems a judge has issued a ruling that says they do own at least a part of something they never made or tried to bring to market. Will the copyright madness never stop?