More than 15,000 authors, including Dan Brown, Margaret Atwood, and James Patterson, and their supporters have signed an open letter drafted by the Authors Guild to AI companies, imploring them to get writers’ permission before using copyrighted material to enhance their technologies.
The letter says copyrighted material is the ‘food’ for the algorithm to mimic human writing but AI producers, including Microsoft, OpenAI, Alphabet, IBM, and Meta Stability AI, never pay for using it. The letter calls the infringement on millions of books, poetry, essays, and articles an inherent injustice because authors are not compensated for their use, which the Authors Guild believes would be fair and appropriate under intellectual property law.
Author Nora Roberts explained that creators must be compensated at a fair rate or else they cannot afford to create anymore. Humans write for other humans and are not automatons that only need to be programmed to produce. As she explains, AI can only create human stories using other human stories that have already been written.
If the writers’ stories, style, language, and ideas are integral to the AI development, shouldn’t the writers then be compensated for the usage of the works?
The AI companies argue that the technology only reads the texts used to train robots but the letter calls this statement an inaccurate anthropomorphizing of robots. Without acclaimed writers’ work, AI would produce “banal and limited texts,” they argue, and it is unlawful to copy authors’ work into AI software and reproduce it over and over without compensating the original writers.
The Authors Guild is calling for AI companies to not only get authors’ consent and compensate them for using their work, but also to credit them as contributors to AI development. Among the acclaimed writers who have signed the letter are Margaret Atwood, David Baldacci, Dan Brown, Ron Chernow, Michael Chabon, Suzanne Collins, Jennifer Egan, Louise Erdrich, Jonathan Franzen, Roxane Gay, Min Jin Lee, Rebecca Makkai, Celeste Ng, Viet Thanh Nguyen, James Patterson, Michael Pollan, Nora Roberts, George Saunders, Andrew Solomon, Jodi Picoult, Jesmyn Ward, Tobias Wolff, and thousands of others.
The multinational Big Four accounting firm Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler (KPMG) estimates that generative AI could eventually replace 43 percent of writers’ and translators’ work.