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Authors Guild and Brooklyn Public Library Co-host AI Panel

On February 28, the Authors Guild held a discussion about the impact of generative AI on the writing profession at the Brooklyn Public Library.

Authors Guild CEO Mary Rasenberger, Authors Guild president Maya Shanbhag Lang, author Hari Kunzru, and author and Authors Guild Council member Steven Levy discussed the philosophical, ethical, and practical implications of machines performing the quintessentially human function of “writing,” how machine-generated narratives might change the literary arts, and whether AI can replicate human creativity.

The participants also discussed copyright issues inherent in the development of AI, including mass copyright infringement, and the Authors Guild’s policy responses. The event was followed by a Q&A from the audience and a book signing with the authors.

Authors Guild General Counsel Talks Book Banning on Radio

On February 20, Authors Guild general counsel Cheryl Davis appeared on Guild member Gloria Browne-Marshall’s WBAI radio program, Law of the Land With Gloria J. Browne-Marshall. The episode was entitled Book Bans: Impact on Readers, Writers and Civil Liberties.

The two attorneys discussed the problems with new and proposed legislation in some states aimed at limiting the ability of students to access certain types of reading materials. These laws violate the Constitution due to their vagueness and overly broad language, as clearly articulated in the case law. In Board of Education v. Pico, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the removal of certain books from a school library’s shelves violated students’ First Amendment rights. In that case, the Court held that “local school boards may not remove books from school library shelves simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books and seek by their removal to ‘prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion or other matters of opinion.’ Such purposes stand inescapably condemned by our precedents.”

They also discussed the Authors Guild’s activities combatting these laws, including recent lawsuits brought by the Guild and other free speech organizations in Arkansas and Texas. In both cases, the laws at issue were enjoined from being enforced pending the results of the litigation. 

When asked “what can ordinary people do to combat these laws?” Davis said that they can use the Authors Guild’s toolkit, and that people can join the Authors Guild and Unite Against Book Bans, which can advise people about what is going on in their areas and how they can speak out and act on the local level.