Amazon-owned Audible sued by major book publishers over controversial speech-to-text feature

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Some of the top publishing companies are teaming up to sue Audible, the audiobook subsidiary of Amazon, arguing that a new feature that transcribes audiobooks to text amounts to copyright infringement.

The Verge first reported on the lawsuit, which has not yet been uploaded to online legal databases. The publishers involved in the suit are Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Chronicle Books and Scholastic.

At issue is the new Captions feature , which has been controversial since it was first announced last month. It uses machine learning to transcribe audiobook recordings into written words, so users can follow along while listening.

The Verge notes that audiobooks have separate licenses from physical books. Audible is allegedly not getting the necessary licenses to reproduce written versions of books.

We’ve reached out to Audible for comment and will update this post if we hear back.

Amazon acquired Audible in 2008 for $300 million. The 24-year-old company is mostly known for audiobooks, however it has also become a big player in the growing podcast industry and other forms of audio entertainment. Audible customers downloaded nearly 3 billion hours of audio in 2018, the company said.