Big book publishers sued Amazon.com Inc’s Audible accusing copyrights violation

Amazon.com Inc’s Audible was sued by publishers members of the Association of American Publishers who claim a mobile-app feature planned by the audio-book company will violate copyrights by automatically converting narrated works into unauthorized text.

The feature, called Audible Captions, could compete with both physical books and eBooks as well as “cross-format” products that may incorporate both audio and text, the publishers said. The company is not apparently obtaining the necessary licenses to reproduce the written versions of these works. Some of the world’s largest book publishers, including Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster and San Francisco-based publisher Chronicle Books and Scholastic, the major children’s publisher that owns publishing rights to Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, have signed the lawsuit filed in the Southern District Court of New York.


Audible is relying on artificial intelligence. Audible CEO Don Katz positioned Captions as an educational feature designed for schools. A decade ago, the company tried to launch a text-to-speech feature for its Kindle platform and the controversy with authors imposed the option to turn off the feature.