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Authors Guild Returns to the Hill to Discuss Generative AI

Last week, Authors Guild CEO Mary Rasenberger and Director of Advocacy and Policy Umair Kazi, together with our DC lobbyist Marla Grossman and her staff, met with the offices of key lawmakers in Congress to address critical issues concerning generative AI and protective measures for writers. This was the Guild’s second visit to the Hill in as many months. The Guild advocated for the following policy recommendations, emphasizing the critical importance of the writing profession to the proliferation of literary culture and democracy:

  • Collective Licensing and Copyright Protection:  We reiterated the urgent need to get authors fairly compensated for the use of their works in AI training and proposed potential frameworks for collective licensing, including a non-exclusive opt-out basis.
  • Antitrust Exemption: We advocated for an antitrust exemption for writers and other copyright owners to allow them to engage in collective licensing with AI companies and others without the fear of antitrust lawsuits.
  • Labeling and Transparency Requirements: We called for requirements to label works significantly generated by AI as such, ensuring transparency, and for AI companies to disclose training data, including the works used for training purposes to enhance accountability and protect authors’ rights.

The Guild discussed these priorities with high-ranking staff members from the offices of six senators and three house members. Among the offices the Guild spoke to were:

  • Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY): Senate Majority Leader Schumer recently released the SAFE Innovation Framework for AI Policy, which highlights copyright and intellectual property protection as one if its priorities.
  • Senator Chris Coons (D-DE): As Chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Senator Coons oversees copyright matters in the Senate with Ranking Member Senator Thom Tillis. He has demonstrated a commitment to safeguarding the interests of authors and creators and will be holding a hearing on Copyright and AI in the next few weeks.
  • Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN): Chairing the Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, Senator Klobuchar is active in several policy areas relevant to our work. The Senator is a sponsor of important antitrust bills such as the Journalism Protection and Competition Act and the American Choice and Innovation Online Act, both of which the Guild lobbied for. Moreover, Senator Klobuchar is also leading efforts to address the antitrust concerns around AI.
  • Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM): As a leader of the Senate AI Caucus, Senator Heinrich’s office and staff are instrumental in helping Congress understand the risks and implications of AI technologies. In our meeting, we underscored the importance of considering authors’ perspectives in AI-related policies. The Guild also proposed an event with authors for the AI Caucus to help lawmakers and their staff better understand how generative AI technologies are being used in the writing profession.

Congress is taking the issues around copyright and generative AI seriously, and the Guild is committed to ensuring that lawmakers continue to understand the stakes for the writing and other creative professions. Looking ahead, the Guild will continue to consult with lawmakers to create legislation that protects copyright incentives and keeps authors and other creators at the forefront of legislative initiatives to protect the creative arts.

Guild Counsel at the ALA Conference: Empowering Writers with Strategies for Banned Book Week 2023

At the American Library Association (ALA) conference last weekend, Authors Guild General Counsel Cheryl Davis joined Christine Emeran from the National Coalition Against Censorship and Sarah Miller from the National Council for Teachers of English on a panel about strategies for this year’s Banned Books Week.

The Guild set forth its plan to offer an educational webinar that empowers writers on how to respond to book bans. Davis emphasized the importance of author advocacy and highlighted strategies for providing context to counter the selective extraction of words and phrases used to provoke censorship. She encouraged authors to take a proactive role by reading excerpts from their challenged works at school board meetings and suggested collaborating with local libraries to organize book readings during Banned Books Week.

The panel was led by Banned Books Week coordinator Betsy Gomez. Authors at the conference were encouraged to read from their own challenged and banned book or from a selection of other titles. The readings were recorded and will be used in conjunction with Banned Books Week—which will take place the first week of October and is now in its 41st year—to celebrate the freedom to read, encouraging everyone to stand up against the suppression of stories.