Amazon has decided to back down on its text-to-speech feature for the Kindle 2. In a news release, it announced that it would allow publishers and authors to decide if their books will allow TTS or not.
More than likely, Amazon's lawyers decided that using TTS with the Kindle would require a court fight because it hasn't been clearly defined as a kind of right or not a right. TTS doesn't add enough value to an ebook to make it worth the expense of a lawsuit.
All in all, Amazon caving in to AG's demands is really bad because no one can say with clarity what kind of right TTS is so authors will be leery of allowing TTS because it may prevent them from selling audio rights, and the publishers don't know if they have the TTS right either. We really needed a lawsuit to settle this.
As things stand now, TTS will be cut off on most books available for the Kindle, and that will hurt the visually impaired.
Many ebooks, however, not in Kindle format, will still be available to be read using computer TTS software.
Link to copy of press release: