AI Makers Urged to Stop Stealing from Authors

The development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has introduced new moral dilemmas into a world where technology is advancing at an unprecedented rate. Artificial intelligence (AI) that mimics the style of well-known authors is one such concern. Authors and AI developers are at odds over the use of their works without permission or compensation.

ReadWrite
Published in
6 min readJul 19, 2023

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Over 8,500 authors across fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have signed an open letter criticizing the AI companies behind large language models for appropriating their work without permission or payment. According to the letter, millions of copyrighted books, articles, essays, and poetry serve as “food” for AI systems by providing them with language, stories, style, and ideas, but no payment has been made.

The letter goes on to say that AI developers haven’t explained where these works came from, whether they were taken from reviews and excerpts in books, checked out from the library, or downloaded illegally from sites like Libgen. The authors insist that approaching publishers for licenses is the only proper and ethical way to gain access to their works for any purpose.

Artificial intelligence (AI) generated content poses a threat to the writing industry because of the potential for a flood of poorly written books, stories, and journalism based on the works of famous authors. Some very poor quality works generated by AI have already risen to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list. Every day, this website (and soon, this post) is scraped for content to be repurposed into chum for SEO, adding to the flood of generated works publishers already face.

Warning authors that it may be difficult to make a living as a writer due to the complexity and narrow margins of large-scale publishing, the open letter argues that the current situation is untenable.

The letter requests that AI companies obtain permission before using copyrighted content in generative AI programs, pay authors fairly for the use of their works in AI programs, both historically and currently, and pay authors fairly for the use of their works in AI output, regardless of whether or not the outputs infringe on existing law.

Mary Rasenberger, the CEO of The Author’s Guild and a signatory, told NPR that there is no threat of legal action because lawsuits cost a lot of money and take a long time. However, AI is currently a problem for writers.

Everyone is wondering which company will be the first to admit that it has based its artificial intelligence on the work of others without permission and that it will make restitution. While we don’t yet know the answer, there appears to be little pressure on AI developers to disclose the inclusion of protected works. Large language models may contain and regurgitate copyrighted works, but most people are unaware of this and therefore unconcerned about it.

While the open letter hasn’t received a response from the AI industry, the message is loud and clear. They need to figure out how to compensate authors fairly for their work and address the issue of using copyrighted material in their systems.

The use of AI to generate content without authorization or payment is just one of the new ethical challenges posed by the rise of AI. With the proliferation of AI comes the responsibility to think through its ethical implications and employ it fairly and justly.

Ethical concerns must be taken into account while developing AI. It is essential that the technology be used in a manner that is just, fair, and respectful of all parties.

A discussion about the future of AI and copyright has been sparked by the use of AI to create content that is similar to that of well-known authors. Defining who owns data produced by AI models is becoming more nuanced as the technology evolves.

Finding a middle ground between AI applications and copyright protections is crucial. Finding a way to fairly compensate authors for the use of their works in AI models or developing a licensing system that permits AI manufacturers to use copyrighted material in their systems ethically and legally are both possibilities.

In summary, the use of AI to generate content has, in a nutshell, completely altered the information production and consumption processes. However, its use has serious ethical implications, especially in regards to copyright, which must be carefully considered. Over 8,500 authors have signed an open letter urging artificial intelligence (AI) companies to stop using copyrighted content in their systems and begin compensating authors fairly.

Ethical concerns must be taken into account while developing AI. It is essential that the technology be used in a manner that is just, fair, and respectful of all parties. Defining who owns data produced by AI models is becoming more nuanced as the technology evolves. Finding a middle ground between AI applications and copyright protections is crucial.

First reported on TechCrunch

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the concern surrounding AI and famous authors’ writing styles?

The development of AI models like ChatGPT, Bard, and LLaMa has raised concerns about the mimicry of well-known authors’ writing styles. Authors and AI developers are in conflict over the use of their works without permission or compensation.

Q. How many authors have expressed criticism over the use of their works in AI systems?

Over 8,500 authors across various genres, including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, have signed an open letter criticizing AI companies for appropriating their copyrighted works without permission or payment.

Q. What does the open letter claim regarding AI developers and copyrighted content?

The letter claims that AI developers haven’t explained the source of the works used in their models. It questions whether the content was taken from legitimate sources or obtained illegally, such as through downloads from sites like Libgen.

Q. Why is AI-generated content considered a threat to the writing industry?

AI-generated content poses a threat as there is potential for a flood of poorly written books, stories, and journalism based on the works of famous authors. Some low-quality AI-generated works have already reached best-seller lists on platforms like Amazon.

Q. What is the request made in the open letter to AI companies?

The letter requests that AI companies obtain permission before using copyrighted content in generative AI programs. It also calls for fair compensation to authors for the use of their works in AI programs and AI-generated output.

Q. Is there any response from the AI industry regarding the open letter?

As of now, the AI industry has not responded to the open letter from the authors. The authors are urging the AI companies to address their concerns and find solutions for fair compensation.

Q. What are the ethical implications of AI-generated content?

The use of AI to generate content without proper authorization or payment raises ethical concerns, especially regarding copyright and authors’ rights. Ethical considerations are essential in the development and application of AI technology.

Q. What is the role of AI in the future of copyright and data ownership?

AI’s use in generating content is redefining discussions about copyright and data ownership. Defining who owns data produced by AI models is becoming more nuanced as AI technology evolves.

Q. How can a balance be achieved between AI applications and copyright protections?

Finding a middle ground is crucial. This includes ways to fairly compensate authors for the use of their works in AI models and possibly developing a licensing system that allows ethical and legal use of copyrighted material in AI systems.

Q. What is the overall message of the open letter from authors to the AI industry?

The authors are urging AI companies to address the issue of using copyrighted material without permission or fair compensation. They emphasize the need for ethical considerations and respect for authors’ rights in the development and use of AI technology.

Featured Image Credit: Unsplash

AI Makers Urged to Stop Stealing from Authors was originally published on Readwrite on July 19, 2023 by John Boitnott.

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