The suit seeks a preliminary injunction preventing Audible from going ahead with the program, which was slated to go live in September. In the lawsuit, the AAP argues that it is illegal for Audible to move forward with Captions since it is transcribing the audio without the permission of the copyright holders and without providing any compensation. All Big Five publishers have signed on to the lawsuit, as have Scholastic and Chronicle.
“We are extremely disappointed by Audible’s deliberate disregard of authors, publishers, and copyright law,” AAP president and CEO Maria A. Pallante said in a statement. “In what can only be described as an effort to seek commercial advantage from literary works that it did not create and does not own, Audible is willfully pushing a product that is unauthorized, interferes and competes with established markets, and is vulnerable to grammatical and spelling inaccuracies—it is a disservice to everyone affected, including readers.”
Shortly after the lawsuit was filed the Authors Guild issued a statement expressing its strong support for the AAP's action. Guild executive director Mary Rasenberger noted that Audible is proceeding with Captions, without authorization and in violation of its contracts with publishers. Rasenberger continued: Text and audio are different book markets, and Audible is licensed only for audio. It has chosen to use its market power to force publishers’ hands by proceeding without permission in clear violation of copyright in the titles,”
The guild statement noted that a number of guild members, including president Doug Preston, have books that are in the Captions program without their permission. My contract is crystal clear that the only rights conveyed to Audible are for voice recording and playback. The rights to reproduce text in any way are specifically withheld,” said Preston. “I can’t believe that Audible has so little respect for authors, contractual promises, and copyright that it thinks it can just help itself to rights it doesn’t have, by fiat. There is a simple English word to describe this: and that is theft.
Audible responded to the suit in a statement on its website, saying it was surprised and disappointed by this action and any implication that we have not been speaking and working with publishers about this feature, which has not yet launched. The company went on: Captions was developed because we, like so many leading educators and parents, want to help kids who are not reading engage more through listening. The company elaborated, saying that it takes issue with the claims that this violates any rights. It finally added that it is eager to work with publishers and members of the professional creative community to help them better understand the educational and accessibility benefits of this innovation.
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