Kindle, Text-to-speech, and AAC: a rant

March 5, 2009

Here is my issue with the Author’s Guild— synthesized speech is a “derivative work” to them. As in, an interpretation of an author’s words and not the author’s words themselves.

Amazon's Kindle 2 e-book

Amazon's Kindle 2 e-book

So what are the implications of such an idea on AAC users? We’ve been holding to the philosophy that the AAC user is the originator and that the AAC output is that person’s “voice.”

So, if Kindle’s output isn’t the authors’ words, what is AAC output? Is it really the person’s words or some derivative of it?

If the input to the system is not written words, how “interpreted” is the spoken output? Turning pictures into spoken words in an interpretation.

Is it possible to testify in court using AAC, since the output is hearsay? It’s an interpretation. We’ve had issues about this before in that lawyers have argued that there is no way to be certain who is the originator of the message… ask Dr. Janice Light about it if you want to really make her angry.

In a phrase-based system, who actually is the originator of an expression? Is it the one who activated the expression, or the “author” who programmed it?

If I move a communication system from an ATI machine to a Dynavox, am I violating the copyright of the “author” who put the words into my system?

I wish I could be certain that this will never be an issue, but I can’t rest easy with this. Especially since the output of AAC has been challenged in court. Any copyright law that allows such ridiculous interpretations is hopelessly broken and needs to be reformed.

Patent and Copyright Reform Now.


Electronic Frontier Foundation

Copyright reform

Creative commons

Recording Industry vs the People (Blog documenting how record companies abuse “intellectual property” [sic] law)

Groklaw (blog that tracks court cases of abusive patent and IP lawsuits)

Cory Doctorow’s blog (the one that isn’t bOING bOING)

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