We reported the Author's Guild's litigious anger about the Kindle 2's text-to-voice feature, claiming it violates audio book copyrights. It's an arguable position, but Amazon has gone ahead and caved to the literate man.
Amazon has backed down for the Guild's comfort rather than for any legal motivation, since it's pretty clear that a robotic reading isn't the same as an audio book. "We strongly believe many rights holders will be more comfortable with the text-to-speech feature if they are in the driver's seat," Amazon said.
But instead of removing the feature, Amazon has simply made it optional, so publishers can decide for themselves what's best for their property. That means it's unlikely the much-advertised (though not necessarily much-loved) feature is going to be too useful for Kindle 2 owners. We're not thrilled, since the Guild has no real legal leg to stand on and seems to need Amazon more than Amazon needs them, but then again, we're not fancy-pants authors. [CNET]
I'm a fancy-pants author and I say this is crap! -JC