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.