Authors Can Silence Talking Kindle: Amazon

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2009 11:01 AM CST
Jeff Bezos, chairman and CEO of Amazon.com, unveils the Kindle 2 electronic reader.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Amazon has bowed to pressure from the Authors Guild and will allow authors and publishers to disable the controversial text-to-speech feature on its Kindle e-reader, the Los Angeles Times reports. Authors contend that the function essentially turns the e-book into an audio book, a contract violation. “They created a hybrid product,” a guild executive said. “It was being used in a way they had not been given permission for.”

Despite the legal talk from the guild, insiders said the move by Amazon was intended to smooth relations with authors, not avoid a lawsuit. “This announcement was 95% motivated by business and relationship concerns,” one lawyer said. “The copyright claims were speculative at best.” Amazon concurred, saying the feature was legal but “rights holders will be more comfortable with the text-to-speech feature if they are in the driver's seat.” (Read more Kindle stories.)