Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Casino

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  • Mark Harris,

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Harris,

    Breaking T2S will reap authors exactly zero extra dollars. Visually-impaired readers can presumably go hang.

    That's what I don't get. People who *might* have bought an ebook version to be read on the Kindle *specifically* because there is no proper audiobook version, are now less likely to buy it because they won't know if it can be read. Not to mention ESOL learners - there's a huge market there. Apart from the sheer Luddism, it's cutting off your nose time.

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    My understanding from colleagues is that there are already separate copyright exemptions for vision-impaired readers in NZ and other jurisdictions so that conversions into braille and audio don't reap extra profits for publishers and add cost barriers to the time ones.

    It's mainly applied to academic textbooks, and the challenge is getting the publishers to supply marked-up electronic files - which I think are now compulsory in the US school textbook market.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19728 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Not that it's a reason to allow breaking of built-in text-to-speech functions anywhere else.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19728 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    Islander - yep, that was a joke. My position is this...

    If Amazon are making money out of a service specifically relating to an author's work the author should be compensated.

    If, however, you are talking about preventing distributing software because it happens to be able to read text on a computer I am vehemently opposed.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    As Gaiman notes, there is no foreseeable future in which machine text-to-speech will approximate a human audiobook reader. Breaking T2S will reap authors exactly zero extra dollars. Visually-impaired readers can presumably go hang.

    I'd also suggest public libraries are going to have a tough enough time over the next couple of years, without storytimes from Bagnor to Baha California getting hit with flying pickets.

    Oh, and I didn't mean to be picking on Roy Blount -- he's a fine writer, and the Author's Guild isn't a total oxygen thief. But wouldn't it be nice if the union put as much energy into, I don't know, improving the take-home from audiobooks? I think it would be fair comment to say the publishing industry (and authors) have as many problems adapting to new technologies as the rest of us.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Whether we like it or not, it just so happens that the (variable) reward patterns of gambling are perfect for creating addiction.

    Much like fishing? I knew there was a gambler in me somewhere. Being a catch-and-release type, the house always wins.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10654 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Jon Stewart did an amusing interview with a guy from Amazon about the Kindle 2 (the guy had an annoying laugh).

    Best moment, Jon's reaction when the guy mentioned the price. You thought it might be $100, $150 or something. No, $359 US!

    It was just the worst marketing ever on a tv show that millions of people watch. Jon's draw dropped and he handed the product back to the guy.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Harris,

    I think that was Jeff Bezos, wasn't it? The CEO of Amazon.

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    I think the only way I'd be sure that each spin is an independent event is If I looked at the code or that they are required to by law. I'm assuming they get audited, I remember reading a piece comparing the controls on the development of slot machines compared to those of voting machines.

    Amongst other things the Gambling Act mandates that the likes of Sky City must connect their pokie machines to an electronic monitoring system as specified by the Secretary for Internal Affairs. The monitoring system tracks a bunch of things, including income, pay-out, possible tampering, and possible violations of the Act.
    Further, the Act allows appointment of Gambling Inspectors and empowers them to inspect the carrying out of gambling, including auditing the machines. So rigging the pokies at Sky City is unlikely. It's the local pub that you need to worry about. Sky City, as I understand it, has IA staff on-site at all times to ensure that things are carried out in accordance with the law. They have so much to lose if they're caught fiddling the odds even further into their favour that it's just not worth it.

    The misconception that casinos (and here I talk about the major ones, not the local pokie den) cheat is mostly because the true 50:50 odds of the laws of chance don't assert themselves until the iterations through a particular event have been run thousands or tens-of-thousands of times. Since most people don't have the time to play for a long enough period to reach the point of true randomness, they usually lose out. Because the house wins every time you lose, the house has many more opportunities to win than you do because the house is party to every "roll of the die".

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Yes, and besides, the odds aren't truly 50:50, nor are they required to be. They're stacked in the house's favor, and that's just the way it is. Any house that ran 50:50 odds would have to get its money some other way, perhaps through the drinks.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10654 posts Report Reply

  • Bea Braun,

    No I do not agree with decriminalisation of drugs - I think they should all be legalised, brought under controlled sale, proceeds taxed and treatment centres available for the minority who can't cope. It's only a multi-million dollar industry because so many people in NZ use drugs.
    Legalisation, as with alcohol, would rob gangs of their main source of income, make our streets and homes safer and boost the tax take.
    Prohibiton never works very well.

    Orwell would love this thread. All the snobby pigs looking down their noses at the dumb sheep. Poor fools sitting there so grimly when they could be out on their bikes, compulsory helmets on of course and tofu sammies in their backpacks.

    I love the condescending pieties of the bourgoisie.

    Hamilton • Since May 2008 • 4 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Orwell would love this thread. All the snobby pigs looking down their noses at the dumb sheep. Poor fools sitting there so grimly when they could be out on their bikes, compulsory helmets on of course and tofu sammies in their backpacks.

    Oh, whatever: people can do what they like.

    But it's hardly unreasonable to remark on the fact that so few people appear to be having a good time.

    I love the condescending pieties of the bourgoisie.

    Always happy to provide a venue for your slightly self-conscious inverted snoobery, Bea. Up the workers!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    Orwell would love this thread. All the snobby pigs looking down their noses at the dumb sheep. Poor fools sitting there so grimly when they could be out on their bikes, compulsory helmets on of course and tofu sammies in their backpacks.

    I love the condescending pieties of the bourgoisie.

    Do I detect the delicious aroma of fresh strawman stuffed with bullshit? There is a Your Views parody thread here for you to enjoy, you know.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Yes, and besides, the odds aren't truly 50:50, nor are they required to be. They're stacked in the house's favor, and that's just the way it is.

    I recall a TV show a number of years ago looking at casinos. It looked at the odds of various games, and various machines as well. Apparently there are/were some slot machines with theoretical payouts of over 100%. If you played perfectly (e.g. holding a pair even when you were a single card off a royal flush) you could get a return of 101% or something like that. Not most slots, but certainly some.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3207 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Rights for talking books-for-the-blind, and transcrition into braille, are routinely given away with my books (as they are for most NZ works of fiction). Neither publisher nor self makes anything out of them. A TTS function of the Kindle2 - supposing I had sold e-rights- wouldnt've garnered publisher or self anything either. And, as someone who is vbisually impaired, I find your comment, Russell, just a tad offensive.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    A TTS function of the Kindle2 - supposing I had sold e-rights- wouldnt've garnered publisher or self anything either. And, as someone who is vbisually impaired, I find your comment, Russell, just a tad offensive.

    I'm sorry, I meant no offence and my comments really weren't directed at you.

    I just can't see the point of what the Authors' Guild has done. And as Sacha pointed out, even though the provision for talking books for the blind is there, actually getting the data for a particular title is often onerous. Here was a simple solution that would make things easier for everyone, and widen the range of books available to the blind, and the guild broke it.

    Seriously, what has actually been gained by this move?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Thanks Russell.
    However, most people I know with severe visual impairments already use a TTS function - on their computers. And the TTS function on the Kindle2 isnt disabled - at least I havent read/heard that it is - for pdfs and other downloadable stuff. Just for books until the rightsholder, author or publisher, reaches an agreement with Amazon. Which is what should've happened in the first place.

    I think of the attempts by Google and Amazon as initial skirmishing.
    Will any copyright holder notice - or care -about what we're doing?
    Uh, yes. And it'll be interesting to find out the next moves-

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I thought I'd better go to the source and see what Roy Blount actually said in the New York Times.

    I still think his basic contention -- that the TTS function on a Kindle is comparable to an audiobook, and thus will deprive authors of audiobook royalties -- is utterly wrong.

    The key difference is that an audiobook is read by someone who understands what they're reading. No amount of coding will produce that in a machine in my lifetime or the next hundred years.

    It's not a substitute for an audiobook, it's a basic feature that provides an additional way of reading the book -- which, after all, the reader has legitimately purchased.

    Some of what Blount says seems to have been conjured from the air: the Kindle hasn't been "heavily marketed" as a combo e-book/audiobook. As a ReadWriteWeb blogger points out, the Kindle website barely mentions the TTS feature.

    He dismisses the statement from the National Federation the Blind, which I think deserves better than that. It's worth reading.

    If it's just a ploy in a negotiating war between rights owners and new-media publishers, I guess we're stuck with it. I'd like to see writers get as much as possible back from the sale of their works. But this just seems a wrong place to try and do it.

    And I'm not sure if this was a good way to end ...

    For the record: no, the Authors Guild does not expect royalties from anybody doing non-commercial performances of “Goodnight Moon.” If parents want to send their children off to bed with the voice of Kindle 2, however, it’s another matter.

    Ouch ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Surely the only moral difference between reading your book yourself and having a machine read it for you is the suffering inflicted on your audience by the latter.

    So the reading's legitimacy depends on the situation either way. I can imagine a public performance or a recording of a copyright work with a kindle machine - possibly even one I might be interested in hearing - but it would be the operator's responsibility.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    No amount of coding will produce that in a machine in my lifetime or the next hundred years.

    I liked Gaiman's comment that, when a machine can do read aloud better than a human, we will have other things to worry about.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • Angus Robertson,

    Ouch...

    Auckland • Since May 2007 • 984 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I liked Gaiman's comment that, when a machine can do read aloud better than a human, we will have other things to worry about.

    Oh good one, Lyndon. Pit me against Neil bloody Gaiman then ...

    The issue has been bouncing around in my head since my last comment. I can see what Islander is saying, and understand that authors don't want to just let new distributors run off with rights.

    Maybe they'll squeeze a small fee for text-to-speech out of Amazon in the end, but I'm not really convinced of the idea that this is so different from TTS on a computer, which is uncontroversial, and I simply don't think the Kindle's TTS feature will prevent one sale of an audiobook.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The EFF contends that the Guild is wrong in law; another point ignored by Blount as he dismissed their statement. He might be a fine writer, but the guy is really starting to annoy me.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Will any copyright holder notice - or care -about what we're doing? Uh, yes. And it'll be interesting to find out the next moves-

    Well, Kerry, if I was an American author I'd certainly be having a serious head-scratching session about the quality and credibility of any advocacy the Author's Group provides.

    The overwhelming majority of authors who don't moonlight as experts in contract, copyright and intellectual property law certainly need it. Anyone remember the Herald columnists who were up in arms about their work vanishing behind that (unlamented) subscriber paywall, only to be told they'd blithely signed away their electronic reproduction rights? Who wants to bet Tapu Misa et. al. are paying that clause in their next contract a lot more attention?

    But advocacy is only effective when it is well-informed, credible and focused on the battles that are really worth fighting in the first place.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

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