Legal analysis: Audible captions leads to copyright infringement suit

Where technology and copyright collide

By Carolyn Schurr Levin

There is nothing simple about copyright. The law is complex, with so many nuances. In this first CMR legal column, we analyze a pending copyright dispute involving newly developed technology in an effort to assist students and advisers as similar issues arise.

Audible, the Amazon.com audiobook company that bills itself as “the world’s largest seller and producer of audiobooks and other spoken-word entertainment,” introduced a new feature in July 2019 that displays the text of a book while it is read. The feature, called Audible Captions, allows listeners “to follow along with a few lines of machine-generated text as they listen to the audio performance,” according to Audible’s website. “We developed this technology,” Audible’s website states, “because we believe our culture, particularly in under-resourced environments, is at risk of losing a significant portion of the next generation of book readers. We have heard from so many teachers and educators that they want to find new ways to improve literacy rates and inspire students to pick up a book and read.”

LEGAL ANALYSIS: In this new column, we will choose a recently filed lawsuit against the media and analyze the claims being made, the arguments against those claims, and the implications for college media organizations. --Editor

Book publishing companies, however, were less than pleased with the announcement about the launch of Audible Captions. On August 23, 2019, seven publishers—Chronicle Books, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers Macmillan Publishing Group, Penguin Random House, Scholastic, and Simon & Schuster—filed a federal copyright infringement lawsuit against Audible alleging that Audible Captions infringes the copyrights in their books. The publishers are seeking a court order to stop the launch of Audible Captions, as well as collecting an award of monetary damages for the alleged infringement Continue reading “Legal analysis: Audible captions leads to copyright infringement suit”