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“Kindle 2 can read books aloud. And Kindle 2 is not paying anyone for audio rights.”

The post title is taken from Roy Blount Jr.’s NYT Op-Ed entitled “The Kindle Swindle?” In it he argues, in his capacity as president of the Author’s Guild, that the Kindle 2 will undermine the market for audio books, which provide a decent amount of income to authors. He writes: “What the guild is asserting is that authors have a right to a fair share of the value that audio adds to Kindle 2’s version of books.” He points out that the Guild is therefore being accused of persecuting blind people (even though the Kindle 2 would be difficult for a blind person to use independently) and also:

The guild is also accused of wanting to profiteer off family bedtime rituals. A lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation sarcastically warned that “parents everywhere should be on the lookout for legal papers haling them into court for reading to their kids.

I’m somewhat conflicted about the issue. One the one hand I think I should be able to use a book I purchase (or even “license”) any way I like. On the other hand, if the Kindle 2 truly poses a threat to the revenue streams of authors (though I’m guessing Blount is not going to provide any actual verifiable data on how many authors the Kindle 2 might effect, or how much money each might lose, or admissions that the Kindle 2 might actually increase the sales of many books, especially books that were unlikely to be released in audio form, thereby actually benefiting some writers) that does seem problematic. And I’m struck yet again by the corrosive rhetoric that EFF uses sometimes, which I don’t think is particularly helpful.