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Thousands of authors sign a letter urging AI makers to respect copyright and obtain permission

The campaign is driven by the understanding that AI should not replace creative labor but rather complement it ethically and responsibly.

Thousands of authors sign a letter urging AI makers to respect copyright and obtain permission
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | Judit Peter

Thousands of writers have endorsed an open letter from the Authors Guild urging AI companies to stop using copyrighted work without permission. The letter is signed by more than 8,000 authors of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, asking tech companies to obtain permission before incorporating copyrighted work into their technologies. The Authors Guild's Open Letter says it calls on the CEOs of OpenAI, Alphabet, Meta, Stability AI and IBM to obtain consent, credit, and fairly compensate writers for the usage of copyrighted materials in training AI.


 Over 8,000 writers—including Jennifer Egan, Nora Roberts, Jodi Picoult, Louise Erdrich, Michael Chabon, Suzanne Collins, Margaret Atwood, Viet Thanh Nguyen and more—have signed the letter. "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," the letter reads.


"It says it's not fair to use our stuff in your AI without permission or payment," explained Mary Rasenberger, CEO of The Author's Guild, according to NPR. "So please start compensating us and talking to us." The non-profit writers' advocacy organization sent the letter to the AI companies on Monday. As writers struggle to make a living writing due to the complexities and narrow margins of large-scale publishing, artists are coming together to ensure they can continue to create and be compensated fairly. It may affect young and upcoming writers as well as voices from under-represented communities.


"There's no urgent need for AI to write a novel," said Alexander Chee, the bestselling author of novels like "Edinburgh" and "The Queen of the Night." "The only people who might need that are the people who object to paying writers what they're worth." A recent Authors Guild survey about AI noted that 90 percent of the writers believe "they should be compensated for the use of their work in training AI," 67 percent said they "were not sure whether their publishing contracts or platform terms of service include permissions or grant of rights to use their work for any AI-related purposes."


 Rasenberger also spoke to CBC's "As It Happens" host Nil Köksal about the open letter highlighting, "There's a general feeling that this is unfair. The AI developers created these systems behind our backs without asking permission. We could lose our literary culture. We lose, you know, the exchange of ideas all of the things that are so crucial to a democracy."

Writer Nora Roberts said in a statement according to the Associated Press, "If creators aren't compensated fairly, they can't afford to create. If writers aren't paid to write, they can't afford to write. Human beings create and write stories human beings read. We're not robots to be programmed, and AI can't create human stories without taking from human stories already written."

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