I did a post last September about the lawsuit being brought by the Association of American Publishers against Audible because of its desire to use the text, generated by AI from their audio stream, as a sort of subtitle track to its audiobooks. The publishers argued that the text represents a copyright item not covered by the sublease of the audio rights. Now the lawsuit has been settled in the publishers’ favor says Publishing Perspectives.

This video demonstrates what Audible Captions looks like.

If you don’t see a video here please click on the title of this post in order to view it in your browser.

The case has been decided out of court, and under the terms of the settlement Audible agrees to obtain permission from the publisher (if that publisher is a member of the AAP) before applying the Captions feature to audiobooks. Amazon, owners of Audible, has agreed to extend the agreement to cover books published by any publisher, member of AAP or not — as reported by The Digital Reader. This means that if you see Captions when you are “reading” your Audible audiobook you can rest assured that, if it’s a copyright work, permission will have been granted by the publisher and that this will mean that some sort of payment has doubtless been made to the author.

This whole shebang may not constitute a massive advantage for the reading public. If you really want the text would you not be reading the book? If you want the audio, do you really need the stress of trying to keep up with the printed words? Obviously some will want to attend to both, but I wonder how many. No harm, of course, in such a service being available, as long as it’s being done within the limits of the copyright law. If you really want it, now you’ve got it, though there seems to be uncertainty about how much Audible’s going to use the feature. Reports suggest that Captions may actually only appear on books already in the public domain. Which may in itself be a comment on the actual value of this feature.