IBPA Statement on Audible’s Caption Program
Monday, July 22, 2019
IBPA finds Audible’s announcement that it plans to begin running text alongside its audiobooks troubling and confusing and recommends its members check their contracts and speak to their Audible representative about the implications of the new initiative.
"As new technologies make things possible that weren't possible before, publishers need to be more diligent than ever in policing copyright,” said IBPA CEO Angela Bole. “There's more to learn here, but unless we’re talking about books in the public domain, I can't see how this new initiative from Audible falls under Fair Use Doctrine. Audible needs contracted permission to create what is essentially an enhanced e-book."
The Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers, and many others have spoken out against Audible’s Caption program. In addition, IBPA attorney Jonathan Kirsch, a publishing and intellectual property attorney based in Los Angeles, had this to say:
“As a fundamental principle of U.S. copyright law, permission of the copyright owner is required to publish an e-book, an audiobook, and/or a mash-up of the two. I am presuming that Audible has acquired these rights from the copyright owners. If not, they have a lot of explaining to do. On the other hand, if Audible believes that it has found a way to navigate through the Fair Use Doctrine or the law that permits reproduction of a copyrighted work 'for the benefit of the disabled,' they have even more explaining to do because neither of these principles seems to apply to their new product.”
IBPA members impacted by Audible’s Caption program are encouraged to reach out to IBPA CEO Angela Bole at firstname.lastname@example.org. IBPA will continue to monitor the situation as it considers next steps.