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  • Writer's pictureThe Publishing Post

Publishing Organisations Present a United Front on AI

By Sarah Frideswide

It’s no secret that the growth of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and the sometimes unscrupulous development of tech companies pose significant challenges to creators and the publishing industry, whilst also offering many opportunities. Some of those existing challenges were outlined in a previous Publishing Post article. At the time of writing that article, it was clear that the UK government needed to do more to tackle the unethical copyright issues that AI and the companies behind it pose.

Now, several organisations that represent UK publishing have issued a statement to the government calling for regulation of AI’s use in relation to creative works. “We need urgent confirmation from the government to ensure that AI systems cannot continue to use copyright-protected works with impunity”, they write, “Creative works are devalued by today’s unfettered, opaque development of AI systems, which have been designed using copyright-protected works used without permission or payment.” They call for compensation for the copyright infringements that have already happened, and they call for a statement from Rishi Sunak to demonstrate a commitment to protecting the creativity of individuals and the creative industries.

The full statement can be read here.

The organisations which issued the statement are the Publishers Association which represents UK publishers, the Society of Authors which represents writers, the Association of Authors’ Agents which represents agents and the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society which ensures that authors get paid for their work when it is reproduced. Their unity on this issue demonstrates the importance of it. The government has yet to respond to this statement.

Rishi Sunak has rightly identified safety risks associated with AI that include weapon building, child sexual abuse, disinformation, fraud and so on, all of which are significant risks that should be high on the government’s agenda. However, he has made no mention of the current risks to the creative industries and the undermining of human craftsmanship and livelihoods, which AI is causing in the here and now. The government has also failed to discuss any plans to institute policy regarding this issue. More pressure may be needed from publishing organisations, to bring this issue to the forefront of the AI agenda, allowing the issue to be treated with the urgency it deserves.



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