The Authors Guild Posted An Open Letter To Generative AI Leaders

The Authors Guild posted an open letter to generative AI Leaders calls on the CEOs of OpenAl, Alphabet, Meta, Stability AI, and IBM to obtain consent, credit and fairly compensate writers for the use of copyrighted materials in training AI.

The open letter allows people to add their own name to it. From the open letter:

To: Sam Altman, CEO, Open AI; Sundar Pichai, CEO, Alphabet; Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Meta; Emad Mostaque, CEO, Stability AI; Arvind Krishna, CEO, IBM; Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft:

We, the undersigned, call your attention to the inherent injustice in exploiting our works as part of your AI systems without our consent, credit, or compensation.

Generative AI technologies built on large language models owe their existence to our writings. These technologies mimic and regurgitate our language, stories, style, and ideas. Millions of copyrighted books, articles, essays, and poetry provide the “food” for AI systems, endless meals for which there has been no bill. You’re spending billions of dollars to develop AI technology. It is only fair that you compensate us for using our writings, without which AI would be banal and extremely limited.

We understand that many of the books used to develop AI systems originated from notorious piracy websites. Not only does the recent Supreme Court decision in Warhol v. Goldsmith make clear that the high commerciality of your use argues against fair use, but no court would excuse copying illegally sourced works as fair use. As a result of embedding our writings in your systems, generative AI threatens to damage our profession by flooding the market with mediocre, machine-written books, stories, and journalism based on our work.

In the past decade or so, authors experienced a forty percent decline in income, and the current median income for full-time writers in 2022 was only $23,000. The introduction of AI threatens to top the scale to make it even more difficult, if not impossible, for writers – especially young writers and voices from under-represented communities – to earn a living from their profession.

We ask you, the leaders of AI, to mitigate the damage to our profession by taking the following steps:

1 Obtain permission for use of our copyrighted material in your generative AI programs.

2 Compensate writers fairly for the past and ongoing use of your works in your generative AI programs.

3 Compensate writers fairly for the use of our works in AI output, whether or not the outputs are infringing under current law.

We hope you will appreciate the gravity of our concerns and that you will work with us to ensure that in the years to come, a healthy ecosystem for authors and journalists.

The Wall Street Journal reported that artificial-intelligence products such as OpenAI’s Chat GPT and Google’s Bard are trained in part on vast data sets of text from the internet, but it’s often unknown whether and to what degree the companies secured permission to use various data sets. Some tech companies say scraping information form the web is fair use.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the Authors Guild said writers have seen a 40% decline in income over the last decade. The median income for full-time writers in 2022 was $22,330, according to a survey conducted by the organization. The letter said artificial intelligence further threatens the profession by saturating the market with AI-generated content.

“The output of AI will always be derivative in nature,” Maya Shanbhag Lang, president of the Author’s Guild, said in a statement. “Our work cannot be used without consent, credit, and compensation. All three are a must.”

In my opinion, it is not morally acceptable to steal someone else’s writing work, without even attempting to ask for their permission, to feed that content to an AI. The writers whose work was included in that should be well paid for their words.