Monday, February 16, 2009

Will reading aloud infringe copyright?

Neil Gaiman has proved once more that he's One Of The Good Guys. He has posted an interesting comment about the new Amazon Kindle, and its reading-aloud capabilities. Apparently, his publishers think that this infringes their licensing agreement, as there is a profitable market for audio books. Gaiman says:

"When you buy a book, you're also buying the right to read it aloud, have it read to you by anyone, read it to your children on long car trips, record yourself reading it and send that to your girlfriend etc. This is the same kind of thing, only without the ability to do the voices properly, and no-one's going to confuse it with an audiobook. And that any authors' societies or publishers who are thinking of spending money on fighting a fundamentally pointless legal case would be much better off taking that money and advertising and promoting what audio books are and what's good about them with it."
Wise words, but I am sure that he is in the minority. I imagine there is going to be a keruffle over this when many authors try to squeeze more money out of distributors.

(thanks to PanGloss for pointing this out to me).

1 comment:

Simon Bradshaw said...

I'm with Neil on this one.

If I were to read out a book in public, then I would arguably be undertaking an unauthorised performance of it. If I were to record (and so fix) the reading then technically I would have created an unauthorised adaptation of the book, and if I were to distribute it then I would again be infringing copyright.

But reading a book out in private is not the same as any of these things. Having a machine do it for me does not change this.

I have just used the Speech Service built into Mac OS X to read out the first paragraph of your post. Have I infringed your copyright? No. Are you in a position to sue Steve Jobs for facilitating copyright infringement? No.