May 27, 2022

Report: “Major Book Publishers Sue Amazon’s Audible Over New Speech-to-Text Feature”

UPDATED POST September 12, 2019 Audible Tells Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) it Will Press Pause on Full Captions Rollout (by Andrew Albanese, PW)

From The Verge:

Source: Pixabay

Some of the world’s largest book publishers have jointly filed a lawsuit against Amazon-owned audiobook company Audible today over a new, controversial speech-to-text feature the literary industry claims is a violation of copyright law.

The lawsuit, filed in the Southern District Court of New York, includes the Big Five: Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster. It also includes San Francisco-based publisher Chronicle Books and Scholastic, the major children’s publisher that owns publishing rights to Harry Potter and The Hunger Games. All seven plaintiffs are members of the Association of American Publishers.

Read the Complete Article

From an Association of American Publishers Statement:

“We are extremely disappointed by Audible’s deliberate disregard of authors, publishers, and copyright law,” said AAP President and CEO Maria A. Pallante. “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.”

The complaint filed with the Court today asserts claims of willful copyright infringement against Audible and documents the company’s efforts to take for itself cross-format features that incorporate both audio and electronic text, outside of the careful decision-making, financial participation, copyright protection, and quality control of copyright owners. Moreover, the captions risk an error rate that stands in stark contrast to the high-quality and carefully-proofed eBooks that publishers produce, and for which they acquire exclusive electronic rights. The complaint contrasts Audible’s machine-generated text with existing offerings, including Audible’s own “Immersion” feature, which also provides text and audio simultaneously, but operates lawfully—and without errors— due to the permission, cooperation, and financial participation of the books’ underlying creators.

Read the Complete Statement

Chronicle Books, LLC v. Audible, Inc. (1:19-cv-07913)

Direct to Full Text Complaint (via CourtListener)

Case Docket: Documents Will Be Accessible via CourtListener/ReCap

Reactions, Statements

Authors Guild Issues Statement Supporting AAP’s Lawsuit Against Audible


Audible Will Let You ‘Read’ an Audiobook While You Listen (via USA Today; July 15, 2019)

AAP Statement on Audible’s “Caption” Feature  (July 18, 2019)

Audible’s Captions Program Stirs Fears, Frustration Among Publishers (via PW; July 19, 2019)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.