Top Publishers Sue Audible For Copyright Infringement

NEW YORK (AP) — Some of the country’s top publishers are suing Audible, citing copyright infringement as they ask a federal judge to enjoin the audiobook producer-distributor’s planned use of captions for an education-driven program.

The so-called “Big Five” of publishing — Penguin Random House, Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins Publishers and Macmillan Publishers— are among the plaintiffs in the suit filed Friday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The legal action comes in response to “Audible Captions,” which Audible announced in July and indicated would be formerly launched as students return this fall, with titles including “Catch-22,” ”The Hunger Games” and “The Hate U Give.”

“Audible Captions takes publishers’ proprietary audiobooks, converts the narration into unauthorized text, and distributes the entire text of these ‘new’ digital books to Audible’s customers,” the lawsuit reads. “Audible’s actions — taking copyrighted works and repurposing them for its own benefit without permission — are the kind of quintessential infringement that the Copyright Act directly forbids.”

Audible, which is owned by Amazon.com and is the dominant producer in the thriving audiobook market, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Maria Pallante, who heads the Association of American Publishers, told The Associated Press in a recent interview that repeated efforts to address its concerns with Audible — including cease-and-desist letters — had failed to produce any changes.

“They said something along the lines of ‘We’ve received your communications and considered them and don’t agree with them and do not intend to stop,'” said Pallante, the trade group’s president and CEO.

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