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AG Introduces New Publishing Agreement Clauses Concerning AI

Illustration of electrical circuits in the shape of a human brain

The Authors Guild is introducing four new model clauses concerning AI to its Model Trade Book Contract and Model Literary Translation Contract. In addition to the recent clause preventing the use of books in training generative AI without an author’s express permission, the new clauses require an author’s written consent for a publisher to use AI-generated book translations, audiobook narration, or cover art. These clauses can benefit publishers and the publishing industry at large by maintaining the high quality craftsmanship that consumers are used to.

The Authors Guild also urges publishers to identify any books that contain a significant amount of AI-generated text. This summer, the Guild will be publishing AI guidelines for authors and publishers containing each of these conditions.

The purpose of these demands is to prevent the use of AI to replace human creators. The Authors Guild strongly believes that human writing, narration, and translation are vastly superior to their AI mimics. Moreover, as an ethical matter, the Authors Guild opposes relying on these tools to replace human creators, in part because current AI content generators have largely been trained on pre-existing works without consent. The Guild stands in solidarity with human creators in other industries, who like authors, face professional threats from AI-generated content flooding the markets for their work.

Publishers may feel compelled to turn to AI because of competitive pressures to save costs; AI, of course, is cheaper than human labor, but we feel strongly that it is to the whole industry’s benefit to resist replacing human authors, artists, and narrators with generative AI. Book authors should not be required to start with AI-generated text. Writers report that it is easier to start from scratch to produce well-written text that resonates with readers and reflects the authors’ voices than it is to start with AI generated text. Similarly, the quality of narration matters, with many audiobook listeners choosing titles based on the narration as much as the book’s content. Book cover designs play an important role in attracting readers, and designing a memorable cover that expresses the book’s spirit requires an intimate understanding of the text. The translation of books is a form of literary writing that requires understanding the essence of each phrase. While AI may be able to produce “accurate” translations, it cannot conjure the layers of meaning that a skilled human translator can.

We encourage publishers to adopt these clauses and authors and agents to request that they be added to their contracts.

Clause Relating to Authors’ Use of AI
Author shall not be required to use generative AI or to work from AI-generated text. Authors shall disclose to Publisher if any AI-generated text is included in the submitted manuscript, and may not include more than [5%] AI-generated text. 

Audio Book Clause (For Use With Audiobook Grants)
With respect to any audiobook created or distributed under this Agreement, Publisher shall not permit or cause the Work to be narrated by artificial intelligence technologies or other non-human narrator, without Author’s prior and express written consent.

Translation Clause (For Use With Grants of Translation Rights)
With respect to any translations created or distributed under this Agreement, Publisher shall not translate or permit or cause the Work to be translated into another language with artificial intelligence technologies or other non-human translator, without Author’s prior and express written consent. For purposes of clarification, a human translator may use artificial intelligence technologies as a tool to assist in the translation, provided that the translation substantially comprises human creation and the human translator has control over, and reviews and approves, each word in the translation.

Cover Design Clause (For Book Contracts)
Publisher agrees not to use AI-generated images, artwork, design, and other visual elements for the book cover or interior artwork without Author’s prior express approval. For purposes of clarification, a human designer may use artificial intelligence technologies as a tool to assist in the creation of artwork for the Work, provided that the human artist has control over the final artwork and the artwork substantially comprises human creation.

The Guild’s Model Trade Book Contract and Literary Translation Model Contract have been updated to include the new clauses.

View the Model Trade Book Contract

View the Literary Translation Model Contract

About the Authors Guild and Authors Guild Foundation 

With more than 13,000 members, the Authors Guild is the nation’s oldest and largest professional organization for published writers. It advocates on behalf of working writers to protect free speech, freedom of expression and authors’ copyrights; fights for fair contracts and authors’ ability to earn a livable wage; and provides a welcoming community for writers and translators of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and journalism. Through its educational and charitable arm, the Authors Guild Foundation, it also offers free programming to teach working writers about the business of writing, as well as organizing public events that highlight the importance of a rich, diverse American literary culture and the authors that contribute to it.