As expected, Amazon has responded strongly to suggestions that the text-to-speech function in the new Kindle 2 e-book may be illegal.

By enabling the device to read out entire texts, many feel Amazon has created a derivative work and should, therefore, be paying royalties to authors similar to those due on audio books.

No flies on us

In a statement issued on Friday, Amazon made clear: "Kindle 2's experimental text-to-speech feature is legal: no copy is made, no derivative work is created, and no performance is being given."

Even so, however, the book giant conceded that some copyright owners might not agree and decided to allow then to disable the audio feature on a per-case basis.

Passion for books

"We are modifying our systems so that rightsholders can decide on a title-by-title basis whether they want text-to-speech enabled or disabled for any particular title," it said.

The release concluded: "Customers tell us that with Kindle, they read more, and buy more books. We are passionate about bringing the benefits of modern technology to long-form reading."