The Authors Guild is currently pioneering a groundbreaking initiative that could transform the way artificial intelligence companies access and utilize literary content. This innovative approach involves offering a blanket license to these companies, allowing them to legally use authors' works for the development of advanced AI chatbots. Participation in this program is voluntary, with members of the Guild having the option to opt-in.
At the heart of this initiative is a dual-fee structure. The first fee pertains to the initial use of literary works as training material for AI systems. The second fee is associated with any AI-generated content that references or draws significantly from these works. This model is designed to ensure fair compensation for authors whose works contribute to the burgeoning field of AI.
Mary Rasenberger, the chief executive of the Authors Guild, emphasizes the importance of this move in an era where generative AI is becoming increasingly prevalent. "We have to be proactive because generative AI is here to stay," she asserts. Her vision is supported by notable figures like best-selling author James Patterson, who has contributed funding to the project. Rasenberger's stance is clear: while the technology itself is not the issue, its use must be legal and properly licensed.
The proposed licensing model is not just about financial compensation; it also focuses on maintaining control over the use of authors' works. Restrictions are being considered to prevent AI from creating material that closely mimics the style of specific authors, uses characters from existing works, or produces book summaries.
The Guild's survey of approximately 2,400 members revealed that about 38 percent are interested in participating in this licensing model. However, there are still details to be ironed out, such as whether fees should vary based on the length and popularity of the works used.
Plans are underway to establish an "Author’s Registry" platform to manage and distribute these licensing fees. This platform would be governed by a newly formed board and organization, specifically created to oversee this innovative project.
While the timeline for the project's completion is not immediate, with Rasenberger noting that it won't be operational within the year, the necessary funding is already in place.
This move by the Authors Guild comes in the wake of legal actions against AI companies. In September, the Guild, represented by prominent authors including George R.R. Martin, Jonathan Franzen, and John Grisham, filed a lawsuit against OpenAI. The suit accuses OpenAI of mass-scale copyright infringement, alleging that the company used copyrighted materials to train its chatbots for commercial gain. This lawsuit highlights the growing need for clear legal frameworks and licensing models in the rapidly evolving intersection of AI and creative content.