Open Password - Freitag,
den 20. September 2019

# 631


Outsell – Publishers – Amazon - Audible – Hugh Logue – Copyright – Audiobooks – Audible Captions – Automatic Speech Recognition – Publishers - Association of American Publishers – Immersion Feature – Audio Publishers Association – Fair Use – Transformative Use – License Fees – Google - Authors Guild – Data Analytics - Fachhochschulen – HTW Chur – FH Graubünden – Digital Science – Bernard Bekavac – Armin Nassehi – Theorie der digitalen Gesellschaft

 


Outsell, September 2019

Publishers Take a Risk
by Suing Amazon Audible

By Hugh Logue

Publishers are suing Amazon-owned Audible, claiming that the tech giant is breaching copyright with a new speech-to-text feature. However,history has shown that they could end up shooting themselves in the foot.

________________________________________________________________

Important Details

________________________________________________________________

Seven publishers are suing Amazon subsidiary Audible, the world’s largest seller and producer of audiobooks, over a new feature that provides captions so users can read the text of audiobooks being played. Audible Captions was revealed last month; it uses Amazon Transcribe’s automatic speech recognition technology to provide subtitles to audiobooks.

However, Audible’s licenses do not cover text versions, and the company is now facing claims of copyright violation from some of the world’s leading publishers: Chronicle Books, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Macmillan Publishing Group, Penguin Random House, Scholastic, and Simon & Schuster. The case was filed on behalf of the publishers by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) in the Southern District Court of New York, seeking to block the feature from launching. The AAP also states that Audible’s transcription technology is vulnerable to grammatical and spelling inaccuracies that undermine the quality control processes of the publishers’ copyrighted works.

The conflict over Audible Captions contrasts against Audible’s existing Immersion feature, launched in 2012, which also provides text and audio simultaneously — including the ability to flip through pages with synchronized audio — but operates by having users buy the Kindle e-book and pay extra for the audio. Audible pays the publishers an agreed license fee for both the e-book and audio versions. Only around 1% of Audible customers currently buy the Immersion feature.

Audible claims that it has no intention of creating a new digital book; the captions are designed to be an educational feature for schools to “help kids who are not reading engage more through listening.” Audible further claims that because the text is generated by automatic speech recognition, displaying only a few lines at a time, it is not the same as a full-text version of a book: Users cannot read at their own pace or flip through pages as they could with a print or e-book. Audible Captions was specifically developed based on trials with schools, and one of the benefits is that users can click on words that they don’t understand and see dictionary definitions or Wikipedia entries.

Audiobooks are the fastest-growing publishing format, so it is not surprising that the big publishers want to protect all potential revenue streams. Sales of audiobooks increased by 27% in 2018 in the US, and revenue grew by 24% to $940 million, according to the Audio Publishers Association. In the UK, audiobooks sales increased by 13% in 2018, and are up 87% since 2014.

Not only are audiobooks popular with consumers, but “audio-first” publications increased by 38% in 2018. Significantly, consumers are not switching from print or e-books; instead, audiobooks are achieving exceptionally high sales among demographics of people who historically do not generally buy books, such as young men and teenagers. The proliferation of Internet-connected car entertainment systems, smartphones, and smart speakers is the major driver of audiobook adoption, but Amazon Audible can also be credited with reinvigorating a faded publishing format with the right service at the right time.

________________________________________________________________

Why This Matters

________________________________________________________________

Audible Captions is unlikely to significantly harm e-book sales, and any decrease could be more than made up with an increase in audiobook sales as they become a richer experience and act as the bridge to a whole latent market of non-readers. The issue here is that alleged copyright breaches need to be challenged or the copyright holders risk the practice becoming an accepted norm that can then slip into “fair use” territory. The US fair use statute (17 U.S.C. 107), doesn’t actually define what “fair use” is, instead leaving that for the court to decide. However, an important consideration for the court when considering “fair use” is whether the use is transformative, i.e., the purpose for which the copying is being done is very different from the purpose of the original.

If the Audible case goes to trial, Amazon could argue that its speech-to-text practice is transformative. This is the major gamble that the publishers are taking: If Amazon succeeds with a transformative use argument, it would be a devastating blow for all publishers and information providers as it would lay down a new copyright loophole for others to exploit. To avoid this, the publishers need to settle, with Amazon agreeing that Audible Captions is not transformative but only paying a symbolic license fee. This will allow publishers to enforce their copyrights to stop more exploitative providers from using speech-to-text technology to reproduce millions of books in the future.

This is not without precedent. Google won a similar case against the Authors Guild in 2015 in which it successfully argued that its practice of scanning books to provide short snippets for search purposes, including those under copyright, was transformative. The concern in the Google Books case was not so much Google’s practices but opening the door for others to take this practice to an extreme. The decision reaffirmed that copyright law does not cover facts, although the previous authority was from 1980 (Hoehling vs. Universal City Studios), long before data analytics and AI made it possible to scan millions of books, understand their context, and extract facts on a massive scale.

At the time of the 2015 Google decision, Outsell warned that “open access campaigners, particularly in areas where there are ongoing tensions between publishers and researchers, may now drive the creation of an online platform that scans millions of copyrighted books, extracts just the facts, and makes them available for free.” This is exactly what happened.

 Fachhochschulen

HTW Chur ist jetzt die FH Graubünden

Die „HTW Chur“ ist im September in die FH Graubünden umbenannt worden. Ab Januar wird die FH Graubünden die achte öffentlich-rechtliche Fachhochschule der Schweiz. Die damit gewonnene Selbstständigkeit ermöglicht der Bündner Fachhochschule die Einführung weiterer Aus- und Weiterbildungsangebote im Rahmen ihrer betriebswirtschaftlichen Möglichkeiten – zur Ergänzung ihres heutigen Profils. Bereits heute verfügt die Bündner Bildungsinstitution über einige einmalige Studienangebote auf Hochschulebene in der Schweiz.

Der neue Name und das neue Logo sollen inhaltlich selbsterklärend, zeitlos und einfach sein. Die Bezeichnung «FH Graubünden» verkörpert die Region und den damit verbundenen Stolz der Herkunft. Das Logo besteht aus dem Akronym «FHGR» und dem Zusatz «Fachhochschule Graubünden» sowie der englischen Ergänzung «University of Applied Sciences».  

Der Fachbereich „Digital Science“ an der HTW Chur (jetzt FH Graubünden) wurde von Bernard Bekavac, Studienleiter für den Bachelor-Studiengang Information Science, in Open Password und im Buch „Zukunft der Informationswissenschaft“ vorgestellt. Weitere Kooperationen zwischen der Fachhochschule und Open Password befinden sich in Vorbereitung.


Neu erschienen:
Armin Nassehi

Theorie der digitalen Gesellschaft

Armin Nassehi, Theorie der digitalen Gesellschaft, C.H. Beck München, August 2019. Wir glauben, der Siegeszug der digitalen Technik habe innerhalb weniger Jahre alles revolutioniert: unsere Beziehungen, unsere Arbeit und sogar die Funktionsweise demokratischer Wahlen. In seiner neuen Gesellschaftstheorie dreht der Soziologe Armin Nassehi den Spieß um und zeigt jenseits von Panik und Verharmlosung, dass die Digitalisierung nur eine besonders ausgefeilte technische Lösung für ein Problem ist, das sich in modernen Gesellschaften seit jeher stellt: Wie geht die Gesellschaft, wie gehen Unternehmen, Staaten, Verwaltungen, Strafverfolgungsbehörden, aber auch wir selbst mit unsichtbaren Mustern um?

Schon seit dem 19. Jahrhundert werden in funktional ausdifferenzierten Gesellschaften statistische Mustererkennungstechnologien angewandt, um menschliche Verhaltensweisen zu erkennen, zu regulieren und zu kontrollieren. Oft genug wird die Digitalisierung unserer Lebenswelt heutzutage als Störung erlebt, als Herausforderung und als Infragestellung von gewohnten Routinen. Im vorliegenden Buch unternimmt Armin Nassehi den Versuch, die Digitaltechnik in der Struktur der modernen Gesellschaft selbst zu fundieren. Er entwickelt die These, dass bestimmte gesellschaftliche Regelmäßigkeiten, Strukturen und Muster das Material bilden, aus dem die Digitalisierung erst ihr ökonomisches, politisches und wissenschaftliches Kontroll- und Steuerungspotential schöpft. Infolge der Digitalisierung wird die Gesellschaft heute also regelrecht neu entdeckt.

Armin Nassehi (*1960) ist Soziologieprofessor in an der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, und Herausgeber des Kursbuchs. Zuletzt erschien „Muster. Theorie der digitalen Gesellschaft“ im C.H. Beck Verlag. In der kursbuch.edition wurde vor kurzem die aktualisierte Neuausgabe von "Die letzte Stunde der Wahrheit. Kritik der komplexitätsvergessenen Vernunft" veröffentlicht. Ebenfalls in der kursbuch.edition erschien "Gab es 1968? Eine Spurensuche".

 

 

 

Open Password

Forum und Nachrichten
für die Informationsbranche
im deutschsprachigen Raum

Neue Ausgaben von Open Password erscheinen viermal in der Woche.

Wer den E-Mai-Service kostenfrei abonnieren möchte - bitte unter www.password-online.de eintragen.

Die aktuelle Ausgabe von Open Password ist unmittelbar nach ihrem Erscheinen im Web abzurufen. www.password-online.de/archiv. Das gilt auch für alle früher erschienenen Ausgaben.

International Co-operation Partner:
Outsell (London)
Business Industry Information Association/BIIA (Hongkong)

---