In a late twist, Judge Valerie Caproni this week denied a bid by the parties in the litigation over Audible Captions to seal their final settlement agreement.
“The public has a presumptive right to judicial documents,” Caproni wrote in her brief order. “Here, there is no doubt that a settlement agreement over which the Court retains enforcement jurisdiction is a judicial document, particularly when the proposed permanent injunction references and incorporates that agreement. Requiring the public filing of a settlement agreement before granting any request for retention of enforcement jurisdiction is a common practice adopted by this Court and other district judges in this circuit. In this case, the parties have not demonstrated competing interests sufficient to rebut the presumption of access and to justify departing from the Court’s general practice.”
Filings last week made public a brief proposed “Stipulated Consent Permanent Injunction” filed with the court, under which Audible agreed to be “permanently restrained, enjoined, and prohibited" from generating text "derived from audiobook versions" of the seven plainitff publishers’ works "for any product or service created or offered by Audible."
However, the final settlement document was not publicly available, even though, in a statement, AAP CEO Maria Pallante revealed that "Audible had agreed that it will obtain permission from any AAP Members that are in good standing with AAP before moving forward with Audible Captions for their works."
Caproni gave the parties until February 21 to file, under seal, a copy of the settlement agreement with any proposed redactions highlighted, accompanied by a letter brief explaining the justifications for each proposed redaction.
Notably, Caproni's order suggests someone in the agreement is getting paid, referencing a settlement amount.
“At this juncture, the Court sees no reason to redact anything in the settlement agreement apart from settlement amount," the order goes on. "If the parties decide not to request retention of jurisdiction, then they may submit, no later than February 21, 2020, a revised stipulated permanent injunction that removes all references to the related settlement agreement, and the Court will enter a permanent injunction without retaining jurisdiction over enforcement of the agreement.”