Tag: ebooks

Audible Responds to Lawsuits, Saying Captions Are Fair Use

Is an audiobook a book? What about the captioning of an audiobook, for hearing impaired or for a quick reference? An ongoing legal battle between Audible and several major book publishers reckons with the definition of what a book even is.

 

Image via Publishers Weekly

 

How Audible’s new Captions technology works is it scrolls a few words of AI-generated captioning to accompany an audiobook’s narration. Audible responded last week with a motion of their own, calling for the publishers’ suit to be dismissed. The legalese of the motion is a tad complex, but here’s the gist of the latest development.

 

 

Audible claims its technology constitutes fair use. The motion to dismiss explains this claim as follows:

 

After listeners purchase an audiobook—and Plaintiffs and their clients are compensated—Audible Captions can help listeners understand it by looking up unfamiliar words, accessing reference materials, or simply verifying and focusing on what they are hearing. This will facilitate access for listeners who have difficulty engaging with audiobooks (or literature in general).

 

Thus, Audible’s lawyers argue, Audible Captions is in line with the purpose of copyright law: “to expand public learning while protecting the incentives of authors to create for the public good.”

In our previous coverage of this ongoing story, we wrote that publishers were angry with Audible because they didn’t give the audiobook platform permission to publish text versions of their titles because e-books require a separate licensing agreement. Audible’s lawyers also argue that claims they have not breached their licensing contract because the user of Audible Captions never has full access to the complete text of the title they’re listening to:

 

Audible Captions is not a book of any kind, much less a replacement for paper books, e-books, or cross-format products.

 

Audible

The Captions in action / Image Via Publishing Perspectives

 

Though the encrypted text is cached on the reader’s device, Audible’s lawyers highlighted the fact that the reader never has direct access to it, so the captions cannot be used except in tandem with the audio recording. Since they’ve paid to license the audio version of the publisher’s titles, and since the text generated by Audible’s technology is not a book in any sense, Audible argues there should not be an issue.

Audible’s lawyers make a convincing argument, and it’s definitely interesting to see how crucial the concept of what a books is to this debate.

 

 

 

Featured Image via The Daily Beast

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 

Microsoft Will Stop Selling eBooks Today

If you were unaware that Microsoft sold ebooks, then don’t worry, because they’re not anymore. The company announced today that it will stop selling ebooks through Microsoft Store effective today.

That doesn’t mean that the books that users currently have will instantly vanish. Previously purchased books will be available through Microsoft’s Edge browser until July, and anybody who pre-ordered a book will get a full refund as well as $25 dollar credit added to their Microsoft accounts if you’ve annotated your books in any way (but the annotations will still be deleted).

According to ZDNet, Microsoft made this decision in order to “streamline” the strategic focus of the Microsoft Store.

Given the very little exposure that Microsoft’s ebook has gotten, especially considering the massive popularity of similar services provided by Amazon and Apple, it doesn’t seem very surprising that this service is being shut down.

 

Read more about the termination of the service here.

 

 

Featured Image Via Nextgov

Kindle eBook graphic.

‘Book-Stuffing:’ The Self-Publishing Crime You’ve Never Heard Of

There’s a scam going on in the eBook industry, and, as with most high-dollar missteps, no one is stopping it.

Before we get into the details of these legal evasions, it’s critical to understand that eBook authors make money per pages read. When authors fill their works with special features to drive the page count into the thousands, eBook readers feel like they’re getting a steal: extra content for the same price. But, for the author, ‘steal’ isn’t that far off.

 

Image Via David Gaughran

 

There have been a number of tactics to stop self-publishing abuses designed to arbitrarily inflate eBook profits, but few have actually been effective. Authors are banned from directly incentivizing reviews, but some have found a workaround: Chance Carter, a self-described “bad boy who writes about bad boys,” created a giveaway in which reviewers would earn the chance to receive a Tiffany ring. It’s clear he really is a bad boy: he nested six extra books in the back of his Mr. Diamond (the precious gem is as hard and desirable as the protagonist’s, well, you know).

This is how authors game the system: filling their publications with bonus content to artificially inflate the length of each book. It’s called ‘book stuffing,’ and it’s no game—the top scammers are making $100,000 per month.

 

Chance Carter's proposal to his followers

Image Via Medium

 

There’s some measure of justice, even if that measurement is more an inch than a mile. Bad boy Carter was banned after #tiffanygate made its way into the public consciousness… but not for long. Many suspect Carter now writes under the pseudonym Johanna Hawke, who writes about “bad boys and hotties.” He’s back with a different name… and the same game.

Well, how bad could it be if an author includes a few bonus chapters? Given that it’s far more than just a dozen extra pages: pretty bad.

 

Self-published Kindle Unlimited authors receive their income from a ‘communal authors’ fund,’ the distribution of which is largely dependant both on what percentage of a book readers complete AND how many total pages readers turn. Amazon has made limited attempts to stop this abuse of the system, enacting a rule that no more than 10% of a book can be bonus content. But many authors have circumvented this system with ‘compilations’ or ‘collections,’ allowing them to hit that 3,000 upper page limit.

This bit of ingenuity is hardly the end of these scammers’ tricks. Many such eBook authors engage in ‘mosaic book stuffing,’ the practice of repackaging previous releases into one new (and derivative) work. While some authors engage in active plagiarism, others will re-use passages of their own works, stitching together some botched Frankenstein’s monster and re-selling it to the public. Others use false links in their novel, which trick readers to skip directly to the end. These authors then get a bonus upon the novel’s completion.

It’s a cheap trick, but the consequences are costing authors who don’t engage in such deceptive policies. The communal fund is, as you may have imagined, communal. Amazon may benefit from the increased sales, and readers may appreciate the extra content. But the authors don’t—at least, not the ones who are honest.

 

Featured Image Via ElegantThemes.com

Marvel Serial Box

Marvel Will Release New Stories on Innovative E-Book Platform!

NY Times reports that Serial Box, a digital service that delivers books in weekly chapter instalments, will collaborate with Marvel to publish original content with its iconic characters.

Former global digital director of Penguin Random House Molly Barton (Not related to Hawkeye / Clint Barton) created Serial Box in 2015. Since its inception, the company has gained recognition for applying the TV series distribution model to its books. Readers can purchase “episodes” or entire “seasons” at affordable prices: think $1.99 for the e-book and audiobook versions of any individual episode.

 

marvel serial box

Image via Den of Geek

 

“We are really focused on the commute and the idea that people have a short window of time in their day where you can make your content fit that window,” Barton told NY Times.

Serial Box currently has two dozen series available, its genres ranging from fantasy and sci-fi to mystery or procedurals. Thor will be the first Marvel franchise to receive the serialized book treatment in the summer, followed by releases for Black Panther, Black Widow, and Jessica Jones.

Also, although Serial Box has yet to release its official announcement, Barton has stated that some of the company’s series would be adapted for television. Whether or not this includes the Marvel Serial Box titles is unknown, but they would be a great addition to the upcoming MCU shows that will reach Disney’s streaming service. And we can hope.

 

 

Featured Image via Entertainment Weekly