Seattle: Amazon.com Inc. changed course and said it would allow copyright holders to decide whether they will permit their works to be read aloud using the second-generation Kindle electronic reader’s new text-to-speech feature.
The move comes nearly two weeks after a group representing authors expressed concern that the feature, which was intended to be able to read every book, blog, magazine and newspaper out loud, would undercut separate audiobook sales. The Kindle can read text in a somewhat stilted electronic voice.
Amazon said in a statement that it, too, has a stake in the success of the audiobook market, and pointed to its Brilliance Audio and Audible subsidiaries, which publish and sell professionally recorded readings.
“Nevertheless, we strongly believe many rights holders will be more comfortable with the text-to-speech feature if they are in the driver’s seat,” the company said.
Amazon is working on the technical changes needed for authors and publishers to turn text-to-speech off for individual titles.
The Web retailer also said the text-to-speech feature is legal, and wouldn’t require Amazon to pay out additional royalties, because a book read aloud doesn’t constitute a copy, a derivative work or a performance.