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    This seems quite distinct from the two precedent cases Ars is citing. Both of those are about a one-to-one recording or copy of copyrighted material (in both cases, video). Audible is not doing that; instead, they are transforming audio into text, and I’m almost sure the publishers’ argument will be that Audible has a license to distribute audio, and not text. Outside of greater philosophical questions about the general ethics of copyright, I don’t see how the publishers are either wrong, or in the wrong. In fact, if they didn’t sue Audible, they might open themselves up to suits from ebook distributors like Amazon. (If I have an exclusive agreement with some publisher to publish “Book (The Untold Story)” in ebook form, I’m not going to be pleased that Audible is—in my view—intruding on my exclusivity by also making “Book” available as digital text.)

    I suspect the ultimate ruling will hinge on whether Audible’s feature counts as “distributing the text” (since, as the article mentions, it’s not in anything like an ebook format you can page through) and the precise wording of their contracts.

    Also I weep for a world where we’re subtitling audiobooks by running speech recognition over the voiceover. This is about the least efficient mild noise filter imaginable. Surely Audible could have saved themselves loads of trouble, development expense, and AWS service fees by talking to the publishers and coming to an agreement that gave them access to the text? Maybe they distribute a lot of material like podcasts and whatnot where no original text exists? I don’t know them for that…

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      If you could actually download the transcribed words I would probably agree with you, but just seeing the spoken words while listening isn’t the same for me at all. When I buy a book it is not only for the written word, but for the formatting and the ability to browse over it. That doesn’t mean I don’t recognize the possible case.

      The way they implemented it is another crazy thing and you are right they probably could have more easily struck a deal, but matching the spoken word with a loose ebook shouldn’t be easy as well.

      It’s still an interesting concept that I first encounterd with the german podcaster Tim Pridlove who tries to add captions and transcriptions to all of his many (most of the very interesting) podcasts. He is working on transcribing everyone of hist podcasts, which are all multiple hours long, and found over the last few years that every automatic solution is severely lacking and because of this he manually transcribes (or rather lets transcribe) thebimportant ones.

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      I feel that trying to sue audible for captions is trying to sue netflix for subtitles, because they don’t have the rights on the book.

      Audible giving captions could really be a great feature for those that are hard of hearing or just to better memorize information.

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        Normally I side against Amazon, but I guess publishers can make me do wacky things.