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Jan 14, 2020

Amazon's Audible settling with publishers over new text feature

Amazon continued to disrupt retailers over the decade

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Amazon Inc.’s Audible unit is nearing settlement on a lawsuit filed by publishers who claimed a mobile-app feature planned by the audio-book company would violate copyrights by automatically converting narrated works into unauthorized text.

In the lawsuit filed last summer, the publishers, which included CBS Corp.’s Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House LLC and Scholastic Corp., said Audible lacked licences to make text versions of the audio books and claimed the machine-generated transcripts could contain errors that would undermine the works.

In a court filing late Monday, a lawyer for Audible said “the parties have resolved their disputes” and that settlement documents would soon be signed and submitted to the court. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

The feature, called Audible Captions, could compete with physical books, e-books and “cross-format” products that incorporate audio and text. The publishers had claimed Audible told them the transcription service could have an error rate as high as six per cent, or 18 pages out of a 300-page book.

Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment outside normal business hours.