Why Fiction Attic Press Is Leaving Medium
Medium’s New Mandatory AI Narration is a Big No for Publishers
Fiction Attic Press regrets to inform our readers and writers that we are taking a break indefinitely from publishing stories on Medium and removing all previously published stories (you can still find them on our original website). We’re sad to say it, because Medium’s clean, minimalist design pairs well with prose. BUT…
Recently, Medium added AI audio narration to all stories published on the platform without the consent of writers and publishers. Despite email requests and clear discontent among users, Medium refuses to remove this narration.
The first problem with the audio narration is that it’s simply bad. (If you need proof, just click the “listen” button at the top of this page). Imagine an early, very hurried, male version of Siri but with no sense of humor and no vocal inflections. But even worse than the terrible narration of stories that matter to the writers is the rights grab without consent.
As a small publisher of literary fiction, Fiction Attic Press does not retain audio rights to the stories we publish. These rights remain with the authors. Rather than retroactively requesting rights from every writer, we are removing all previously published work as quickly as possible. (You can still find all Fiction Attic stories on our original website, FictionAttic.com — more on that in a bit).
Medium loves to make announcements, but they kept this new, mandatory feature quiet. We didn’t even know the audio narration existed until we logged in to post a story and noticed the audio icon at the top of the page, then noticed there was no way to remove it. So, why all the secrecy, Medium? I imagine that, among their stable of attorneys, someone told them this whole audio-without-consent thing was a bad idea.
Medium’s new blanket AI policy seems to be a violation of writers’ audio rights to their own work, as well as a violation of the good faith of publishers. When writers trust Fiction Attic and other Medium publications with their stories, they do so with the understanding that we are publishing a text edition of their work, not an audio edition. They may wish to record audio versions of their own stories, or, in the case of excerpts from published novels, they may have already entered into binding legal contracts with an audio publisher.
The AI narration does a disservice not only to the work itself, but also to the writers, and to all of the publishers who have strived to make Medium a place readers love to land.
You can find us, as always, at FictionAttic.com. You’ll still find excerpts of previously published stories here on Medium, with links to the original content on our website. We will be posting new stories and essays on Substack, beginning this week.
When you subscribe on substack, you’ll get new flash fiction and memoir in your inbox twice a month. And you can submit your flash fiction and essays here. We are always looking for inventive, well-written work that surprises us, delights us, makes us feel, and makes us think. And if you have a story about AI, we’d love to read it!