Audible looks to end Captions copyright lawsuit in US

Audible looks to end Captions copyright lawsuit in US

Lawyers for Audible say the legal action against its Captions programme could soon be over after making a proposal that could "moot" the ongoing lawsuit brought against it by seven US publishers, in a letter to the court. 

US publishers, including Association of American Publishers (AAP) members Chronicle Books, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Macmillan Publishing Group, Penguin Random House, Scholastic and Simon & Schuster, launched a lawsuit in August against Audible's Captions programme, which allows US customers to read along to their audiobooks. 

The publishers argue the speech-to-text feature violates copyright law, and also called for a preliminary injunction to stop their works from being used in the feature, which Amazon's audiobook company had planned to roll out in September. 

Now lawyers for Audible have asked the court handling the lawsuit to suspend considering two pending motions in the case until the end of the month, saying they believe their proposal "moots" the publishers' lawsuit. 

The letter states: "Audible has made a proposal to plaintiffs concerning a potential final resolution of the lawsuit. Audible believes this proposal moots the lawsuit. Plaintiffs are considering that proposal but have not yet responded. Accordingly we respectfully request that the court suspend consideration of the pending motions for a week in order to preserve the status quo pending the parties' discussions. We will advise the court of the progress of the of those discussions on or before October 30, 2019."

Earlier this month, judge Valerie Caproni rejected Audible's request for a settlement conference to be overseen by a federal magistrate judge. In September, Audible insisted the court should reject the copyright lawsuit, arguing it is a contract issue instead.  

The AAP declined to comment further but told The Bookseller the proposal is "under discussion" and they do not believe it will "moot the suit".