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Read to me, O Robot!

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | March 9, 2009

Posted by Cliff Tuttle

As a great lover of audiobooks, I’ve been waiting for a device that will read any book I choose aloud. That day is coming and the Kindle2 from Amazon.com just brought it closer.

Kindle is an electronic device to which books and a host of other electronic media can be downloaded directly and wirelessly. It is not the first such device, but it is probably the best — at least for now. Kindle solved many of the technical problems that the fledgling electronic book industry had been struggling with for some years. Now, Kindle2 appears to have solved a few more of them.

While robotic reading has been around for a while, it has not been offered to the general public as part of a high-end electronic book package until now. However, this offering was greeted by rage from publishers and authors who urged that it infringed upon the audio rights which might be sold to others.

Now, audiobooks have been a long time in coming, too. Books on tape have served a limited audience for a long time, but they have not attracted a sufficient following to be considered a big moneymaker until the era of the ipod. The claim has been made that robo-readers infringe upon the author’s or publisher’s right to sell the audio-rights separately.

A post in the Madisonian, a patent law blog with a focus on new technology edited by Pitt Law Professor Mike Madison, casts some light on the subject.

As more than a few commentators have pointed out, the robotic voices of auto-readers are not compete with the robust, expressive reading voices of professional actors, some of whom have become celebrities of the audio literary world. However, it is feared that this may change.

The post in Madisonian states that the system amazon is installing in the Kindle2 does not appear to infringe upon intellectual property rights of anyone. Nevertheless, Amazon told publishers to decide whether to curtail electronic reading. Lets hope that too many works are not prohibited by publishers from being read aloud by Kindle 2



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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