Captions Settlement Details

Some details have been released regarding the settlement between publishers and Audible regarding the latter’s “Audible Captions” program (which would have displayed scrolling, machine-generated text while an audiobook played). The publishers won: Audible will not be permitted to use copyrighted works in the program without permission. The judge approved a permanent injunction and request for dismissal with prejudice. Audible is forbidden from “creating, generating, reproducing, modifying, distributing, publishing, or displaying… written text derived from the audiobook version of publishers’ works for any product or service created or offered by Audible” unless they secure “express authorization from the owners or exclusive licensees.” The court keeps jurisdiction and will enforce the settlement. The judge denied a request to keep the details of the settlement agreement sealed, saying, “The public has a presumptive right to judicial documents” and that “the parties have no demonstrated competing interest sufficient” to keep it secret. Audible, Amazon’s audiobook publishing arm, announced plans for the program late last summer. Audible said the feature would be “available on hundreds of thousands of audiobooks at launch” – alarming publishers who hadn’t licensed the rights to publish such text to Audible. The Association of American Publishers filed a lawsuit on August 23, 2019 in the southern district court of New York to block the program. Publishers including Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, Scholastic, and Simon & Schuster were named as plaintiffs.

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