First of all, for books that are entertainment (most fiction), how is this any different from series that are exclusive to Netflix? The answer given by the author is a non-answer, claiming you can "buy DVD's online". Yeah right, please show me where I can buy Tiger King on DVD? I didn't think so.
Second, for books that are more in line with libraries' missions to make information accessible for an educated citizenry, the original print and ebooks are still available, right? And if you have vision impairment, there are also methods for automated screenreading, since most books don't have audiobook versions.
So I don't really see any valid complaint here except "we want to sell things exclusive to other stores" which, yeah, and I'd like to have a billion dollars.
If you want to have the conversation that there should be laws breaking up creation and distribution and making exclusive distribution illegal, then go ahead, but that would shake up everything, a pretty radical change. But if you're not going to go there, then there's no reason why audiobooks shouldn't be exclusive while other things get to be.
There are laws for this in some industries in the United States.
Movie studios aren't allowed to own theaters anymore. Beer companies aren't allowed to own bars anymore. Car manufacturers aren't allowed to own auto dealerships. Most television shows are decoupled from the distributors, which is why you see things like a big extra Sony or CBS Television Distribution logo at the end of a sit-com rerun.
I'm not sure that what's happening with audiobooks rises to the level of the problems we used to have with "tied houses" (bars only allowed to sell a certain brand of beer), or movie company vertical monopolies of the past.
Unfortunately, ISPs can have a streaming television services that are exempt from data caps while customer access to netflix is capped.
That said, I think a lot of netflix shows do show up on DVD.
I saw a box for Stranger Things that was actually really cool -- the dvds were packaged in a giant VHS box. :)
Apparently this rule was just governed by a consent decree, which never covered Disney and is being removed by the current DoJ:
I thought it was the opposite, where breweries can sell for on premise consumption, but not off premise?
There are often laws regarding how many locations a brewery can own themselves for on-premise sales that is usually tied to some production cap.
These laws vary from state to state.
Tesla has been working on changing / getting around this.
Netflix has released dvds for many of its original shows, house of cards, Orange is the new black, stranger things, etc. They haven’t released a dvd for tiger king, but may eventually.
Netflix is a subscription, but Audible sells things: their subscription provides credits that can be used to purchase audiobooks below list price, but you don’t lose access if you discontinue the subscription.
As this is a purchase-like transaction instead of a broadcast-like transaction, it’s reasonable to assume it should work like other purchases. That includes the right to transfer ownership to someone else, either temporarily (loan) or permanently (gift/sale).
they also have Audible Originals, which you don't need to buy but can access while on subscription
Why should this newcomer (downloads) be treated differently without specific legislation?
In case of physical manifestations, there is an ownership of the physical medium, and copyright rights are 'subservient' to ownership transfer/loan of mediu through 'first sale' doctrine.
For intangible copyright works (e.g. downloadable software), it is just contract and there is no transfer of ownership.
There is specific legislation that establishes 'first sale' doctrine for intangible software, but not for other copyright works.
See https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=449a705d-d76a... (or http://archive.is/GZ6mX )
Similarly, I'm pretty sure Audible commissions plenty of works rather than only reaching exclusivity agreements about already published works.
To begin that conservation, briefly, let me propose that the law should say that once annual sales of a media work are less than, for example, 10% of the peak number of annual sales for that work (in any year so far), any exclusivity deal should become void.
How that would apply to media works that are locked to a specific format (i.e. console games) is less clear. Perhaps if you are porting a game from Nintendo to PC, you should have to change all the trademarks, so that any bugs introduced by the port are associated with the PC version rather than reflecting badly on Nintendo.
There would probably also have to be very careful accounting of how much money went into the creation of a media work, so that a fair price could be set for an independent distributor buying the rights to distribute it.
Probably won’t be a big issue because (for example) the film industry is known for being very transparent with its bookkeeping processes.
They are, however, very lucrative to creators and the distributors, so I have high doubts that the concept of 'the exclusive' will ever go away.
I'm uncertain if that is a general rule and what kinds of exceptions we see.
But I do find it annoying when a behemoth messes with classic stuff I grew up with. I didn't like "I, Robot" in full hollywood regalia, and I think apple might not be a good representative for Foundation. (both classic Asimov)
I'm not making an argument either way, just trying to clarify positions.
So the choice is created when the author decides to write a book. The choice is restricted when the author or publisher decides to offer it only on Audible. Writing a book is “creating more choice”, offering that book exclusively through one reseller is limiting that choice.
You might make the argument that this is just capitalism and the free market doing its job, but to keep healthy competition alive capitalism is generally regulated to keep the biggest players from dominating the entire market. Amazon and B&N might have the money to fight over exclusive rights to a book, but smaller bookstores don’t. This creates a barrier to entry for any new or smaller stores who want to compete in the book market. The reason regulators watch for this kind of stuff is because Amazon has the money and the audience to completely lock out any competitors they want, singe-handedly destroying the free market.
Amazon doesn’t need an exclusive deal in order to sell books. They need exclusive deals in order to put their competitors out of business.
I will add a caveat - I'm mostly OK if Audible is proactively paying the author (and the voice actor(s), director, sound engineer, et.al.) to create a work that would not normally exist.
There's no indication that this is the case with most of these exclusives.
What do you think about this: authors can sign exclusive with non-monopolistic entities?
The problem only comes if the biggest players in the space use their power and influence (read: money) to keep smaller competitors from having a chance.
I’m not saying this should be legal / illegal / “right” / “wrong” - just that at a fundamental philosophical level if you create something and restrict its distribution, you are changing the world (the pool of total content / information) in a way that by definition harms some people.
This could be true in many ways. If you only produce printed copies, you’re harming blind people. If you only produce English copies, you’re harming speakers of other languages. If you only produce DRM’d copies through an exclusive distributor, you’re harming all parties that can’t access that channel of distribution.
Whether it’s ok to perpetrate this harm, as well as when and how and who should foot the bill for wider distribution, are very hard problems of the philosophy of population ethics.
Could you put your file on a harddisk and sell that? Again, no, because writing it to disk _creates a new copy_, so now you're violating copyright.
There's actually pretty solid legal argument for first doctrine not applying to digital media.
However, things get more interesting when you're selling your _license_ or your _access_ to some content. For example, can you sell your entire account to someone else, so that they now have access to what you no longer have access to? Depending on where you live: yes, you can.
Of course there is. When someone uses a loophole, they’re doing something legal to get an unintended or nonobvious benefit— If an activity isn’t legal, it isn’t a using a loophole: it’s just fraudulent / criminal behavior.
The net effect of moving from producer-supplied media to consumer-supplied media has (among other things) resulted in a de facto curtailment of historical consumers’ rights, despite nobody doing anything illegal. The original drafters of copyright simply didn’t envision a world where products would be regularly delivered in a form that couldn’t be physically separated from the purchaser’s other posessions.
Should we force all performers to make their content available to buy to anyone across the world? I'm not necessarily against this, but it would be quite a big change.
A harder question is where the line between these two regimes should be: movie theaters and television stations are generally treated like performances despite showing recorded content. Netflix acts like a rental company: when you drop your subscription, you lose access to their library.
I was lamenting (in the context of Hamilton) that relatively few Broadway shows--or, really, theater of any kind--have video versions available, even straightforward one or two camera versions.
I expect it's mostly some combination of rights and a desire not to diminish the somewhat exclusive nature of live theater. The main exception I can think of is opera mostly because of The Met Live in HD although there are a few others like The Globe (of course, Shakespeare's plays aren't under copyright).
There is obviously a grey area here. I don't know how much Amazon is in the business of creating books (i.e. hiring authors to write them).
The main difference is see between this and Netflix exclusives is that Netflix takes an active have in making their own content (it's a Netflix movie, not a X director movie on Netflix), they have competition in the marketplace and the financial dynamics of movies is different from books.
The Irishman and Da 5 Bloods are very much a Scorsese film and a Spike Lee joint.
Audible offers audiobooks at that price point too, but you'd have to be an idiot to pay it. Amazon will sell you the Audible version of a book you've purchased the Kindle version of at a steep discount. So steep that purchasing the ebook+audiobook is cheaper than purchasing the audiobook by itself.
Compare the pricing for All Creatures Great and Small, which is atypical mostly in that the combined-purchase discount is unusually stingy:
I don't like buying DRMed audiobooks, but it's not that hard to justify at $2.99.
It's also worth noting that making audiobooks is very labor intensive, and Amazon/Audible can offer some of their prices only via the economies of scale. It's also possible that they're offering books at a loss to push out other audiobook sellers - an extension of their efforts with exclusives.
I don't think it's any way close to writing a book first. But books are priced way cheaper for some reason.
- About 20 hours of a voice actor's time
- About 40 hours of a sound engineer's time
- About 30 hours of a director's time
Plus recording booth facilities. Some basic Googling puts the actual cost in excess of $200 per finished hour of recording.
Books have a broader distribution than audiobooks, on an order of magnitude (or two) scale. That's the primary reason why they're inexpensive. Audiobooks are still a bit of a niche market, though Audible/Amazon are doing a lot to increase the size of the market.
EDIT: I did a bit of research, and it seems like freelance writers can earn between $0.02 to $0.20 per word, which for a 90k novel works out to up to $18,000; less than the finished audio book. Take that how you will.
I don't think that word means what you think it means. It's completely possible for an author to record their own audiobook in professional quality audio with a fairly minimal investment. If they don't have a good narration voice then that's going to hurt them, but it can all be done by the author themselves at no extra cost apart from their time, a decent microphone, a computer, and a quiet place to record.
But - and this is a big but - it's most likely going to sound pretty bad. It will have a small dynamic range (lack of an audio booth and quality microphone), the quality of the various voices will typically be poor (voice acting), there will be essess and 'plosions all over (pop screens, high pass filters, de-essing filters), there will be volume and tone changes where fixes are cut in (voice acting experience), and in the worst cases there will be background noises throughout (recording space and post-processing).
It could also take them between 2x and 10x as long - time where they aren't writing - since they don't have the experience required to do efficiently record, edit, and clean up their work.
I've recently been listening to fan narrations of light novels, and these are the kinds of problems that crop up all over these fan works. I don't mind in these cases, because they're free.
There's a script on github to get the encryption key for your account by letting it sign in for you.
Then from there it's easy to get ffmpeg to turn the DRM aac to a mp3
Or this, to crack the activation bytes in an existing .aax file, offline:
Both methods are easy. It's then a case of using FFmpeg with an -activation_bytes parameter to convert to MP3 or whatever (or just remux into an M4A/M4B without transcoding). Tutorial here:
There are a bunch of other tools (both commercial and free) which use the above techniques but add either a nice CLI or GUI. The original was Inaudible itself, which can be found on your favourite torrenting site. Alternatively you can grab it from here, but I'm not sure how up-to-date it is:
Then the author doesn't get paid. That's the difference; buying an encumbered file and removing the encumbrance still pays the creator.
At that point, a prospective customer has two choices: Not buy (which is the choice I largely make), or buy from the sole source and remove the DRM.
There are exceptions if you're making something accessible.
So removing the DRM on something that you already have a license to consume? Not a copyright infringement crime. Sending a copy of the DRM free product to a friend who hasn't bought a copyrighted version? Yes a copyright infringement crime. Removing the DRM that limits your ability to consume the product unless you buy a specially licensed version of the product, when you haven't paid for it, yes a copyright crime.
> In addition, DIYAbility’s initial comments do not provide sufficient information to know whether what it would like to do would actually violate Section 1201, rather than, for example, being permitted by Section 1201(f).
Here's a link to section 1201(f) of the Circumvention of copyright protection systems references reverse engineering .
Others have pointed out that authors won't get paid that way. But I also disagree that it is faster or easier to pirate. First you have to have a decent source (or multiple sources) to search for the books, hope that they are decent enough quality, hope that they have enough peers that you don't have to wait a day to download the book, etc. By contrast, on Audible you press one button to buy and another to download. Even when you take into account any DRM removal, the necessary time and effort are much lower.
This actually mirrors the time where someone who was interested in audiobooks would take to find a source to shop for audiobooks, create an account, confirm the email validation, enter payment info and start buying.
As a test I entered stephen king audiobook into my torrent client's built in search engine and got 210 results any of which can be added with a click. The worlds most well known piracy site is even better listing a torrent with 70 people with 68 different audio books by king among many other torrents.
Piracy is trivial enough a 7 year old can do it.
I lost access to all my "purchased" Amazon Kindle books when they blocked my account and no amount of calls and explaining allowed me to at least get my "purchased" content. Since then I created r/drmgraveyard to follow up the dead of DRM encumbered services.
How many people use Steam knowing and caring that you can't enter offline mode to play your games unless you connect to the internet every month?
It's a really crappy way of keeping me tied in and I want to make sure people know about it.
However, their silver plan is very hidden away and is only presented as an option when you go to cancel your account. And even then it might not work and you'll have to write to Customer Care to switch.
It's not that bad, honestly, when compared to Audible which also limits you to one a month + discounted price for additional
But in practice whoever has more monopolistic power is the one setting the rules, and in this case it's undoubtedly Amazon.
And just like in case of poor working conditions, failure of regulation is to blame for Amazon's ability to do that. Specifically in case of audiobooks, a loophole in the first sale doctrine as someone else mentioned.
Blaming individuals for making selfish or myopic choices is appealing but is not going to take us far out of this situation.
That said, I personally have a hard time assigning the same levels of blame at authors, since they're being given a lot of money for the exclusivity deals. Authors don't have the same liquidity options as Amazon, making the relationship a bit unequal. Especially when having an audiobook made can cost in excess of $200 an hour.
I'd also like to blame Amazon for the weather, but alas...
6 months unpaid labor (book) and $20,000 (audiobook) in debt, praying that the sales/royalties will pay back their investment.
6 months of labor paid plus some bonus, and (smaller) royalties on the top.
I find it hard to argue with their choices, no matter how much I claim that I would not make the same choice.
They have a choice whether they want to professional or amateur.
Excluding fiction authors have to be professionals in some other field to have something to write about . They don’t need to be professional authors.
If amazon or a publishing house can spend the marketing dollars to get your book promoted then it would make sense to do exclusive , If that’s not the case and they really wanted more people can read and enjoy it , they can remain amateur and fund it from pocket to make that happen don’t you think ?
> they can remain amateur and fund it from pocket to make that happen don’t you think
Sure - I think it's entirely possible. Even for a confident full time writer it's possible. But - and this is the core point - I have a hard time blaming them for taking the money for their hard work. Same with OSS developers. I have a hard time blaming OSS developers for taking hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in buyout deals, or in salaries as they write OSS code on behalf of a company.
Passion doesn't fill your pantry with food.
This isn't a binary choice between going homeless and dealing with the proverbial devil. There are plenty of options in the middle.
It’s like choosing to make an iPhone app instead of one for Android.
Audible has people who buy rights directly from authors. By being publisher/retailer they can (but don't always) offer an author a higher % of the net sale than they would get from anyone else, AND they can promote the audiobook selling MORE units.
No individual author has the ability to impact something like this from happening on their own. Why would it be "largely the author's fault" when they have no say over the ecosystem?
Yes they do, they just .... don't enter into an exclusive contract, and pick instead a contract that allows them to market in other places as well.
Or are you implying that Audible requires only Exclusive contacts? Because I don't believe that's true.
It's not like you get to tick off a feature list in your contracts to get all the stuff you want. Audible is likely paying them for exclusivity and they're getting read and promotion out of it that other publishers aren't able to get them. The author's goal is to get their work to where people who want to read it are. It a weird sift of responsibility to expect the author to concern themselves with how the overall audiobook market shakes out for consumers or even other authors. They have no leverage in the negotiation to make those decisions unless they're like Stephen King.
Yes, actually that's exactly how it is. The author can choose if they want it exclusive or not, and Audible will offer them some money to go exclusive.
And they are not required to take that money.
> ACX offers higher royalties to creators (i.e. more money from audiobook sales) if they opt for Exclusive distribution.
Well, then pay more money to the authors, instead of complaining about it.
Also, how is this any different from bookstores having exclusive rights with certain publishers. I remember some books I wanted few years back were available only on Barnes and Noble (back when Amazon was still not that big). How is this different from games being Steam or Epic store exclusives? Like come on, create incentives for creators and they will flock to you. You can't sit around and complain when literally you're a middleman and you refuse to pay your creators more.
The entitlement of people is staggering.
Nintendo makes sense; they created many of the games from scratch. Are they supposed to rewrite them for every platform?
Netflix is more of a Tv station now... that’s like saying it’s not fair This Is Us isn’t on Comedy Central.
I do agree exclusives suck, however I think the only fair comparisons are media that’s traditionally available everywhere (music albums, podcasts, books).
But since the author is the owner if the base creative work, this must be forbidden, if the content is licensed to a specific company.
Another interesting question would be, how this would fit to a text-to-speech approach while not letting a human read the book but a machine...
Can someone tell me more about this topic?
I'm a prolific Audiobook listener, but actively avoided Audible because of the subscription model.
Out of five, one is $2.5 cheaper, while the other four are $10+ cheaper.
Can someone explain how this works? Do we actually buy from a local bookstore or do they just pass a commission to the local bookstore on each sale?
Evil capitalist Amazon is also the greatest creator of book accessibility since Gutenberg.