Earlier this week, Audible announced the creation of a new feature for its audio books app known as Audible Captions. This feature will allow users read the book along with listening to the narrator. It said that this technology will be made to happen using machine learning. As the Amazon owned company announced that the feature is to be for educational purposes, many publishers demanded that their books to be excluded stating that these captions are “unauthorized and brazen infringements of the rights of authors and publishers.”
The feature in its core principle seems very useful from the consumer scope, but according to the verge , the publishers concerned that less people will go on to buy the e-book or physical book if they have and Audible book and they can simply get the free text version of the book.
Audible argue that this feature is not similar to the experience of reading the text from e-book or printed book. Below video from audible explains the feature:
As stated by Audible, the captions are “small amounts of machine-generated text are displayed progressively a few lines at a time while audio is playing, and listeners cannot read at their own pace or flip through pages as in a print book or eBook.” Audible wouldn’t say which books would get the feature, only that “titles that can be transcribed at a sufficiently high confidence rate” will be included. It’s planning to release the feature in early September “to roll out through an upgrade to the Audible app for iOS and Android devices, in time for back to school. And Audible is offering select Captions-ready content free to public classrooms across the USA.”
Many publishers such as Penguin Random House, one of the world’s five biggest publishers expressed copy write concerns to Audible about the captions feature and expected that the company to exclude their titles from the captions feature.
Authors Guild, one of the largest professional organization for writers and provides advocacy on issues of free expression and copyright protection stated that they are ” alarmed by Audible’s recent announcement that it intends to display text synced with audiobook narration. ” and made statement on their organization’s website.
And between the protests from Audible publishers and the excitement of the app users It will be unknown whether Audible will withheld Captions feature altogether or convince its publishers to include their book titles in the feature next September.