The Science Fiction Writers Association (SFWA) has put forth a proposal for a new regime that would alter the dynamic between AI model developers and authors of copyrighted content. The organization envisages a future where AI companies negotiate with creators to fairly compensate them for the inclusion of their work in AI training datasets. This comes amid growing tensions over the unacknowledged use of copyrighted material by firms like OpenAI for training purposes.
SFWA's Stand Against Content Scraping
The SFWA's critique emphasizes the exploitation of authors who have digitally shared their work with the public to foster a rich cultural environment. Authors have often provided their creative output for free, with the understanding that their copyright and moral rights would be maintained.
However, the association criticizes the current practice of content scraping for AI training as infringing upon these rights, often without any form of compensation to the original creators. This process has been facilitated by the absence of digital rights management (DRM) measures, which leading science fiction publisher Tor ceased using in 2012, stating the move was in response to calls from authors and readers frustrated by the constraints DRM placed on the use of legally purchased ebooks.
N.K. Jemisin, an award-winning author, encapsulates the sentiment, arguing that artists might withdraw from public sharing if their work benefits only the companies that appropriate it without fair remuneration.
Toward A Negotiated Use of Creative Content
The SFWA's submission proposes the creation of an opt-in system whereby authors can permit their works to be included in AI training corpora in exchange for reasonable remuneration. The association maintains that if the terms aren't appealing, authors will simply choose not to participate, thereby shaping the scale and scope of data available for AI training through direct negotiation. This concept challenges the current situation, aiming for a more equitable future where creators are not overlooked by technological advancement and profit agendas.
The envisioned arrangement would pivot on a mutually agreeable balance of interests, with content creators being adequately persuaded or compensated for their contributions. This proposed framework seeks to shift the narrative from AI companies unilaterally taking what they need, to one where there's a collaborative effort to respect and uphold the rights of authors in the AI ecosystem.
In this rapidly evolving domain, the dialogue between AI companies, creators, and legislators promises to shape the future of content creation, intellectual property, and technological development. The model posited by the SFWA strives to ensure that as AI continues to redefine the boundaries of creativity and consumption, the individuals at the source of this content are not marginalized but instead are key players in the negotiation of its use.
Authors Fighting Back Against AI
A group of writers, including major figures like Michael Chabon and David Henry Hwang, have filed a lawsuit against OpenAI. They claim that the company unlawfully accesses their copyrighted works to train its AI model, ChatGPT. Chabon and the group have also brought a similar lawsuit against Meta Inc. for the same reasons.
Earlier in the year, Sarah Silverman, Christopher Golden, and Richard Kadrey accused both OpenAI and Meta of copyright infringement. They claim technology companies obtained their books from illegal sources, such as websites that offer free downloads of pirated books.
In July, a group of leading news publishers also considered suing AI companies over copyright infringement. The publishers allege that the AI firms are infringing on their intellectual property rights and undermining their business model by scraping, summarizing, or rewriting their articles and distributing them on various platforms, such as websites, apps, or social media.