Last week, seven major publishers filed a lawsuit claiming that a new captioning service offered by audiobook company Audible, Inc. violates copyright law.  The “Audible Captions” feature transcribes the narration from the audiobook and displays the text on-screen, so that listeners-slash-readers can follow along in real time.  Although previous Audible offerings have allowed users to read and listen to a book simultaneously, those features required users to separately purchase both the audiobook and the e-book.  The publishers allege that the captions are unauthorized reproductions of the copyrighted text, and would require a separate license.  In a statement, Audible denied that the feature violated any rights, and said that it “is not and was never intended to be a book.”

The case is currently pending before Judge Caproni.  Audible has agreed to delay implementation of the captions feature until the court rules on the publishers’ motion for a preliminary injunction.