ThelitigationIt was filed in New York's Southern District Court and includes five major publishers: Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster. Also included are San Francisco-based publishers Chronicle Books and Scholastic, the leading children's publisher with rights to "Harry Potter" and "Hunger Games." All seven plaintiffs are members of the American Publishers Association.
Publishers are questioning Audible's new Captions feature, which debuted last month and will be launched in September through a partnership with US public schools. This feature uses machine learning to transcribe spoken words into written words so that users can read them together while listening to audio books. However, the problem is that Audible is doing this based on audiobook recording, which requires separate permission for physical books and e-books. The company apparently did not have the license required to copy the written version of these works.
Since Audible relies on artificial intelligence, it seems that the company is trying to distinguish between newly created texts using AI, based on recordings, and possibly almost identical text versions of books that create audiobooks. (As evidence of the immediate generation of text, Amazon stated that its transcription may contain errors and is not intended to completely revoke the textual version of the book.) At the time of launch, Audi Candy CEO Don Katz positioned Captions as a school design.educationFunction, and said, "We have learned from many years of work, especially parents and educators understand that the audio experience of well-designed words is very important for cultivating learners."
"Audible's actions - taking copyrighted works and reusing them for their own benefit without permission - are typical violations directly prohibited by the Copyright Act," the complaint wrote. “If Audible is not banned, Audible will adopt a digital distribution format that is not available, which will devalue the cross-format product market and harm publishers, authors, and consumers who like and rely on books.”
In a statement to The Verge, Audible defended the Captions function, saying it was only an educational function designed to help young children and improve their literacy skills, and said "it is not, and never intended to be, a book." The book. The Audible spokesperson also pointed out an explanation detailing the differences between Captions and the correct e-book and the restrictions on the audience. Audible said that one key difference is that pages cannot be flipped because users must wait for each line of text to be generated step by step as they listen. The following is the statement of Audible:
We are surprised and disappointed with this indictment and any suggestion that we have not yet cooperated with the publisher on this feature, which has not yet been launched. Like many leading educators and parents, we hope to help those illiterate children through Captions. This feature allows such listeners to follow a few lines of machine-generated text while listening to audio performance. It is not, and it is never intended to be a book. We disagree with the statement that this violates any rights and looks forward to working with publishers and members of the professional creative community to help them better understand the educational and accessibility benefits of this innovation. ”
At the heart of the case is the determination of the transformative nature of the audio transcription created by AI and whether this constitutes a violation of the copyright of the written work.
“This is one of many litigations that will help determine the future of intellectual property in the digital age. It raises a major question about what impact artificial intelligence can have on intellectual property when interacting with copyrighted materials. "Copyright lawyer and Sam P. Israel, founder of Sam P. Israel PC, told The Verge via email. “Ultimately, unauthorized copying of copyrighted material, even if it is done inadvertently with the help of artificial intelligence, may not be possible in court.”
This case happens to be very similar to the pre-Amazon release controversy a decade ago when the company tried to launch a text-to-speech feature for its Kindle platform, which effectively does what Amazon subtitles do today, but vice versa.
Publishers at the time were angry and accused Amazon of trying to trample on the emerging market for audiobooks and the permissions that publishers believe will help them become a thriving business. Amazon eventually got into trouble in this area, allowing publishers to disable Kindle text-to-speech after the American Writers Association’s hype.
The publishers and writers associations have been fighting similarly last month. After the announcement of the feature, the authors' association issued a statement stating that "the existing ACX and Audible agreements do not grant Audible the right to create a text version of the audiobook." The organization said the feature "appears to intentionally infringe copyright, as well as for traditional publishing. And self-published books, it will inevitably lead to a decline in e-book sales and author royalties."
Audible has been silent on this issue, and the company told The Verge last month that it “disagreed with the author's association's explanation,” but the company officially declined to comment further. Audible also declined to comment on whether it could work with publishers to create some form of license that would allow Audible Captions to exist while also fairly compensating rights holders.
In a new statement, the authors' association expressed support for the lawsuit. “Unauthorized and in violation of a contract with a publisher, Audible added a text function to its audiobook. Text and audio are different book markets, and Audible only receives audio licenses,” wrote Mary Rasenberger, executive director of the Authors Association. .
Interestingly, some of the books that support Audition added by Audible were written by Doug Preston, president of the Authors Association, and he was not happy about it. “My contract is very clear and the only right that is communicated to Audible is for recording and playback. The right to copy the text in any way is expressly prohibited,” Preston said in a statement. “I can't believe that Audible has so much respect for authors, contractual commitments, and copyright. The company believes it can help them have rights that don't belong to it. There is a simple English word to describe this: that is stealing.”