In a joint amicus brief this week, the Authors Guild and the Association of Authors' Representatives threw their support to a group of seven publishers seeking a preliminary injunction barring their works from inclusion in Audible’s Captions program.
In the brief, the authors and agent groups accuse Audible of making “an end run around the Copyright Act" and urge the court to grant the proposed preliminary injunction, which would keep the plaintiff publishers' works out of the Captions program while the court considers whether the program is infringing.
“Audible completely ignores the Copyright Act’s explicit recognition of the divisibility of the bundle of exclusive rights,” the AG/AAR brief states. “Audible’s Captions threatens to upend this system by allowing Audible to seize ungranted rights, thereby diminishing the value (and the compensation an author will receive) from the exploitation of these rights.”
The groups argue that Audible Captions is not an aid for audiobook listeners, as Audible claims, but rather “an unauthorized derivative version of the entire text that underlies the audiobook,” and a poor quality version at that, riddled with grammatical, stylistic, and other mistakes.
“Audible is not creating a transformative version of a work with Captions, but simply one in which Audible has no rights,” the brief states. Further, the groups argue, Audible is in effect “coercing authors to contribute financially” to its "public benefit" program even while Audible itself seeks to profit from the use.
“This Court should ensure that Audible is required to license the rights it seeks to exploit for its profit—just as others must—as required by copyright law and fundamental fairness,” the brief concludes.
A hearing on the publishers’ motion for a preliminary injunction is scheduled to be heard this week in a Manhattan courtroom.