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News Related to Audible Captions Program (Updated Jan 14, 2020)

Tuesday, January 14, 2020   (0 Comments)
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This article was originally published on August 26th, 2019 under the headline, "IBPA Supports AAP Lawsuit Against Audible Captions Program." It has been updated periodically since then. Read the full report below.

(Manhattan Beach, California - August 26, 2019) -- Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) members are advised that IBPA fully supports the Association of American Publishers (AAP) lawsuit seeking to block implementation of the Audible Captions program.

When news of the Audible Captions program broke in mid-July, IBPA found Audible’s announcement that it planned to begin running text alongside its audiobooks troubling and confusing and recommended its members check their contracts and speak to their Audible representative about the implications of the new initiative.

"Despite myriad well documented publisher and author concerns, Audible has continued to push its Captions program forward without proper due diligence," said Angela Bole, IBPA CEO. "IBPA strongly agrees with AAP's position that it is illegal for Audible to transcribe the audio for books under copyright without the permission of the copyright holders and without providing any compensation."

Added IBPA legal counsel Jonathan Kirsch, a publishing and intellectual property attorney based in Los Angeles: "The publishing industry was taken aback by Audible’s assertion that no permission from copyright owners is required to publish an audiobook that includes captioning. Now that the Association of American Publishers has put Audible to its proof, both authors and publishers will have their ‘day in court’ on a fundamental principle of U.S. copyright law."

IBPA members impacted by Audible's Caption program are encouraged to reach out to IBPA CEO Angela Bole at, leave a comment on this post, or contribute to the conversation happening within IBPA's members-only discussion board.

UPDATE: September 3, 2019

Read: "Audible Will Exclude Publishers' Works from Captions Program—For Now" via Publishers Weekly.

IBPA finds the news that Audible will exclude some publishers' works from their Captions program until the Court rules on the Association of American Publishers' (AAP's) motion for a preliminary injunction to be temporary good news for the five publishers represented by AAP's lawsuit (Chronicle Books, Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, Scholastic, and Simon & Schuster), but not yet for the publishing industry as a whole.

As reported in Publishers Weekly:

"The [Captions] program...can still launch for works for which there is no permissions issue (including, for example, Audible and Amazon published titles, and public domain works). Titles from publishers who were not [one of the five publishers] part of the lawsuit could also be used in the program although it is possible that if a publisher contacts Audible they may exclude their titles from the program until the legal issue is resolved."

IBPA would like to broaden the number of publishers excluded from Audible's Caption program while the legal issues are being resolved. To this end, IBPA members who can point to a permissions issue are asked to share their contact information with the IBPA office. IBPA will use the contact information to put together a list of independent publishers who would also like to be temporarily excluded from the Captions program, then submit the list to Audible on the publishers' behalves.

IBPA members interested in being placed on the "exclusion request list" should email the following information to Christopher Locke at no later than Sunday, September 8, 2019.

  • Publisher name
  • Publisher contact person
  • Publisher physical mailing address
  • Publisher email address

While IBPA cannot promise that the publishers on the "exclusion request list" will also be temporarily excluded from the Captions program while the legal issues are being resolved, we're hopeful Audible will appreciate and prioritize a coordinated effort such as this. All IBPA members who submit their information to Christopher Locke as requested above will be kept in the loop as things move forward.

Important dates: IBPA members should email Christopher Locke by September 8, 2019 if they'd like to be placed on IBPA's "exclusion request" list. Audible will file its response to AAP's lawsuit by September 13, 2019. A preliminary hearing for the AAP lawsuit with Audible that had been set for September 5, 2019 has been moved to September 25, 2019.

UPDATE: September 9, 2019

On September 9, 2019, IBPA submitted contact information for 27 publisher members to Audible's head of legal under the following cover letter:

September 9, 2019


To: Stas Zakharenao, Head of Legal, Audible From: Angela Bole, CEO, Independent Book Publishers Association

Re: Independent publishers seeking exclusion from the Audible Captions program

Dear Mr. Zakharenao,

The Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) supports the Association of American Publishers’ (AAP’s) lawsuit seeking to block implementation of the Audible Captions program. Many IBPA members have expressed concern over being pulled into the program without their consent. We hope to help those most concerned by broadening the number of publishers excluded from the program while the legal issues are being resolved. Thus, we respectfully request that works from the 27 publishers listed at the end of this letter also be excluded.

IBPA is a 501(c)6 trade association serving the independent book publishing community since 1983. IBPA’s mission is to lead and serve the independent publishing community through advocacy, education, and tools for success. Our vision is a world where every independent publisher has the access, knowledge, and tools needed to professionally engage in all aspects of an inclusive publishing industry. In accordance with this mission and vision, we run educational and cooperative marketing programs, as well as advocate on behalf of independent publishers within the book industry at large. Our headquarters are in Manhattan Beach, California, but our 3,185 members are situated nationwide.

IBPA sees benefit in something like the Audible Caption program, but not without proper permission from the copyright holders and proper compensation to the creators. We hope you will honor our request to exclude works from these 27 publishers in the short-term, with an aim to reconfigure the program for the long-term benefit of all.

Angela Bole
Chief Executive Officer
Independent Book Publishers Association
(310) 546-1818

UPDATE: September 10, 2019

Today, Audible responded to IBPA's letter. They wrote:

"We have received your request. As we had not determined a specific release date for the full Captions program when the lawsuit was filed, we have chosen to wait until the outcome of the proceeding to release it. In the meantime, we are working to roll out Captions for public domain titles to over 150,000 US high school students in support of our educational focus. We look forward to a full rollout of Captions once the legal proceeding is resolved."

Audible is required to responsed to AAP's lawsuit by September 13, 2019. Unless they change their mind between now and then, it is likely they will include this information in their response.

IBPA is glad to know Audible will exclude everything from Captions except public domain works (which have never been in contention) while the legal issues are being resolved. That said, we look forward to a final outcome that ensures long-term benefit for all, as opposed to a "full rollout of Captions" as it has heretofore been conceived.

Read: Audible Tells IBPA It Will Press Pause on Full Captions Rollout (via Publishers Weekly

Read: IBPA Backs US Publishers Association in Objections to ‘Audible Captions' (via Publishing Perspectives)

UPDATE: September 13, 2019

Read: In Filings, Audible Says 'Captions' Copyright Case Should Be Dismissed (via Publishers Weekly)

UPDATE: September 17, 2019

Hear: The Audible Captions controversy and the IBPA response, with guest Angela Bole of IBPA (via Inside Independent Publishing (with IBPA) podcast)

UPDATE: September 21, 2019

Read: Publishers Say Audible's 'Captions' Defense 'Makes No Sense' (via Publishers Weekly)

UPDATE: September 26, 2019

Read: In New Filing, Audible Lawyers Insist ‘Captions’ Copyright Case Should Be Tossed (via Publishers Weekly)

Read: At 'Captions' Hearing, Judge Hammers Audible’s Fair Use Argument (via Publishers Weekly)

UPDATE: October 4, 2019

Read: Court Denies Audible Request for Settlement Conference in 'Captions' Case (via Publishers Weekly)

UPDATE: October 24, 2019

Read: Is Conclusion Near in Audible Captions Case? (via Publishers Weekly)

UPDATE: October 31, 2019

Read: Audible, Publishers Trade Proposals in Captions Litigation (via Publishers Weekly)

UPDATE: November 15, 2019

Read: Audible, Publishers Still in Talks to Resolve Captions Lawsuit (via Publishers Weekly)

UPDATE: December 28, 2019

Read: Publishers, Audible Say Settlement Is Close in Captions Case (via Publishers Weekly)

UPDATE: January 14, 2020

Read: Audible, Publishers Say They’ve Settled ‘Captions’ Lawsuit (via Publishers Weekly)

About the Independent Book Publishers Association

IBPA's mission is to lead and serve the independent publishing community through advocacy, education, and tools for success. Its vision is a world where every independent publisher has the access, knowledge, and tools needed to professionally engage in all aspects of an inclusive publishing industry. Read more here.

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