I'm not sure how I feel about this. There's a debate brewing over whether the Sony Kindle 2's Read-To-Me feature infringes an author's copyrights.
Here's the issue. The Kindle 2 offers a feature called Read-To-Me, which is a text-to-speech option that enables the Kindle read the book out loud. Sounds harmless, right? The problem is this. Sony has a right to sell you a copy of the book, but Sony does not have the right to sell you a recording of the book. In other words, Sony's contract does not permit them to sell what are in effect audiobooks. Publishing contracts specify what type of rights the author or copyright owners are giving away in exchange for compensation.
This legal issue is one of the starker, recent examples of the problems inherent in creating equitable laws, especially where new technologies meet dated, but well-intentioned and certainly reasonable, legal principles. On the one hand, an author has every right to profit from his labors, and if he hasn't contracted the right to produce an audiobook to anyone, then no one should be permitted to produce an audiobook of the author's work. On the other hand, the text-to-speech feature is very similar to just having someone read the story aloud to you, like a parent reading a bedtime story to a child, for example.
5 hours ago