Tag: e-book

Publishers Use Lawsuit to Pick a Fight with Audible!

In August, we reported that seven U.S. publishers had filed a lawsuits against Audible, claiming the popular audiobook platform’s new captions program violates copyright law.

Audible Captions scrolls a few words of AI-generated transcription to accompany an audiobook’s narration. In effect, Captions users would have access to the audiobook’s text in a roundabout way without having to purchase a copy of the e-book. However, the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in New York “didn’t give permission to publish a text version of their titles to Audible, noting that the text rights require a separate agreement.”

 

Image via the wall street journal

 

The rapidly changing digital publishing landscape has often presented a challenge to book publishers, as it seems the definition of what a book even is must change in the world of e-books and audiobooks.

 

Maria Pallante, chief executive of the Association of American Publishers

Image Via Alchectron

 

Maria Pallante, chief executive of the Association of American Publishers, commented on the case:

What’s at stake is the viability of the publishing industry and the ability to rely on copyright law.

Audible has denied the new feature on their app violates any rights or agreements. In a a statement on August 23rd the company said that:

Captions was developed because we, like so many leading educators and parents, want to help kids who are not reading engage more through listening…This feature would allow such listeners to follow along with a few lines of machine-generated text as they listen to the audio performance. It is not and was never intended to be a book.

 

 

Since the captions would be machine-generated and not transcribed and edited, Audible admitted “up to 6%” of the text may have errors. In the lawsuit, publishers argued The Captions program would then harm their reputations as “as trusted and valued stewards of their authors’ works.”

The program was set to begin as early as September 10th, though this lawsuit will definitely complicate the release. Thankfully, Audible can still launch for works for which there is no permissions issue, such as public domain works and Audible or Amazon published titles.

 

Audible App

Image Via Author’s Guild

 

Audible is facing a fierce legal battle against a cohort of publishing giants. The plaintiffs in the case include Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Hachette Book Group, Chronicle Books, and Scholastic Corp. It’s difficult to tell what the outcome of the case will be this early on. But it’s definitely going to be an important event for the future of publishing.

 

 

 

Featured Image Thanks To Mary Scibilia 

Public Library Responds to Macmillan’s E-Book Controversy

In a draft of a memo sent to Macmillan authors, CEO of the publishing giant, John Sargent, wrote of a new plan to increase revenue made through e-book lending at libraries. “To balance the great importance of libraries with the value of [authors’] work,” Macmillan plans to sell only one copy of any newly-released e-book at $30 to any library. Libraries will then have to wait two months after the title’s release to purchase additional copies at $60.

For those of you who aren’t fluent in corporate-speak, this means Macmillan is essentially trying to squeeze more money out of libraries that already face overly-complicated licensing policies for e-books.

 

Seattle Public Library

Seattle Public LIbrary, Image via Thestranger.com

 

In some sense, this new arrangement should come as no surprise. E-books represent a dramatic challenge to the library lending model, and Sargent notes that digital lending is inherently more seamless and involves less friction than its physical counterpart. After all, what’s easier for the reader: traveling to a physical location to check out and return a physical copy or merely downloading an e-book from a library’s database? Still, these proposed changes which are scheduled to come in to effect November 1st have angered quite a few public libraries.

 

 

Marcellus Turner, chief librarian of the Seattle Public Library, chose to  respond to these changes in a statement on the library’s website.

 

Marcellus Turner

Marcellus Turner, Image via the Seattle Public LIbrary

 

The gist of his response:

 

  1. Macmillan’s new policy will severely affect the ability of library’s in dense, urban areas to meet their visitors’ needs.
  2. The policy will disproportionately affect readers with limited resources.
  3. Major publishers already charge an increased rate for library copies of e-books, and licensing agreements for e-book lending are already complicated. This change from Macmillan represents an even more restrictive shift in the publishing industry.

 

Turner ends his message by explaining that public libraries are highly committed to providing access for those that most need it, but Macmillan’s new policy makes that commitment much harder to maintain.

 

Andrew Harbison, assistant director of collections at access at the Seattle Public Library

Image Via Library as Incubator Project

 

In an interview with TheStranger.com, Andrew Harbison, assistant director of collections at access at SPL, took issue with Sargent’s claim that e-book lending cannibalizes e-book sales. Though the lending model may need to be re-examined, Harbison contended e-book lending may actually boost sales by “retaining, maintaining, and advocating for a robust reading culture.” Harbison also argued this change will reduce the quality of the collection a library can build, ultimately harming readers who depend on library services.

What do you think? Are Macmillan Publishers in the right for prioritizing their bottom line? Or should libraries be thought of as a public good rather than a money-making tool? Let us know on Facebook and Instagram!

 

 

Featured images via TheStranger.com and Seattle Public Library