Friday, February 13, 2009

Test-to-Speech: an Infringement?

Maya Reynolds posted an interesting blog this week concerning the new Kindle 2 and The Authors Guild's response to it. As a Canadian, I've yet to see any Canadian reactions. Though I doubt they're long coming. As for what I think, I'm still green around the gills. I don't have an opinion. I'd admit that typically new technology scares me until I take the allotted time to understand, appreciate or reject it. I was one of those die-hard Beta users in the 80s. Don't laugh, some readers are probably scratching their heads and wondering what I'm talking about.

Well, I'm confessing, I might as well admit that I was a computer programmer back in the 80s, the first MS-DOS. After that I went into another field and didn't return to computers for five years. The changes were mind-blowing. It was as if I'd arrived from another planet.

I was also quick to reject the first e-books. I thought unless I could hold the book in my hands, it wasn't a book. Maybe I'm one of the reasons Kindle was improved upon. One of its newest features is a Text-to-Speech function; a computer-generated voice reads the e-book aloud. I've got a similar feature on my IMAC. Still, every time there's a problem with one of my programs and a female computerized voice announces "Excuse me," I jump.

If you'd like to read the entire article on The Authors Guild response to the new Kindle, check it out here.

As inserted on Maya's blog, here's an excerpt from Cory Doctorow's speech to Microsoft, with Doctorow's permission:
Whenever a new technology has disrupted copyright, we've changed copyright. Copyright isn't an ethical proposition, it's a utilitarian one . . .

Technology that disrupts copyright does so because it simplifies and cheapens creation, reproduction and distribution. The existing copyright businesses exploit inefficiencies in the old production, reproduction and distribution system, and they'll be weakened by the new technology. But new technology always gives us more art with a wider reach: that's what tech is *for*

Tech gives us bigger pies that more artists can get a bite out of. That's been tacitly acknowledged at every stage of the copyfight since the piano roll. When copyright and technology collide, it's copyright that changes.

Which means that today's copyright -- the thing that DRM nominally props up -- didn't come down off the mountain on two stone tablets. It was created in living memory to accommodate the technical reality created by the inventors of the previous generation. To abandon invention now robs tomorrow's artists of the new businesses and new reach and new audiences that the Internet and the PC can give them.

I'm still not sure how I feel about this new technology, or how it fits in with my career choices. But one thing I do know, I should be free to decide and have more than one choice to pick from.

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