Audible pauses Captions roll-out after publisher lawsuit

Audible pauses Captions roll-out after publisher lawsuit

Audible is limiting the roll-out of its Captions speech-to-text feature to just works in the public domain after seven publishers filed a copyright lawsuit.

The company confirmed the change in an email sent to the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) and seen by Publishers Weekly. Audible will also only make Captions available to schools for the time being. The IBPA has called for all 27 of its member publishers to be excluded from the programme.

According to the website, Audible said: “As we had not determined a specific release date for the full Captions program when the lawsuit was filed, we have chosen to wait until the outcome of the proceeding to release it.

“In the meantime, we are working to roll out Captions for public domain titles to over 150,000 U.S. high school students in support of our educational focus. We look forward to a full rollout of Captions once the legal proceeding is resolved."

In her own letter to Audible, IBPA c.e.o. Angela Bole said the organisation could “see benefit” in the Captions feature “but not without proper permission from the copyright holders and proper compensation to the creators”.

Audible had planned to rollout Captions, allowing US customers to read along to their audiobooks, this month but the Association of American Publishers (AAP) argued it was a violation of copyright law. 

The group, including Chronicle Books, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Macmillan Publishing Group, Penguin Random House, Scholastic and Simon & Schuster, filed a lawsuit on 23rd August calling for a judge to stop Audible from including their works in the programme launch without their permission. 

Audible later agreed to exclude works from those publishers until a judge rules on a preliminary injunction.

Audible declined to comment when approached by The Bookseller.