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What Authors Should Know about President Biden’s Executive Order on AI Use

The White House South Portico in Washington, DC

On October 30, 2023, President Biden signed a comprehensive Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence. The Authors Guild is grateful to the Biden administration for taking the lead on the critical issues surrounding AI regulation. We are especially heartened to see the administration’s emphasis on protecting creators in the blueprint for ethical AI.

The order, spanning over a hundred pages, is intended to provide a framework for the responsible development and implementation of AI technologies, addressing issues ranging from national security to safeguarding privacy, civil rights, and worker’s rights. It lays down the following eight core principles to guide policymaking:

  1. Safety and Security: Ensure AI systems are robust, reliable, and secure.
  2. Responsible Innovation and Competition: Promote AI innovation, address IP questions to protect inventors and creators, and ensure a fair, open AI market.
  3. Support for American Workers: Commit to adapting jobs and education for AI, ensuring workers’ rights and benefits, including through collective bargaining.
  4. Equity and Civil Rights: Advance equity, fight discrimination and bias, and ensure compliance with federal laws.
  5. Consumer Protection: Enforce consumer protection laws against AI-related fraud, bias, and other harms.
  6. Privacy and Civil Liberties: Protect personal data and privacy in the face of AI advancements, ensuring lawful and secure data use.
  7. Government Use of AI: Enhance the Federal Government’s use and regulation of AI, training workforce and modernizing IT infrastructure for safe and ethical AI deployment.
  8. Global Leadership: Lead in responsible AI development and use, collaborating with international partners.

Key Aspects Affecting Authors

Two key aspects of the order are of particular importance for authors and creators:

Copyright: The order directs federal agencies to “consult with the Director of the Copyright Office and issue recommendations to the President on potential executive actions relating to copyright and AI” within 270 days of the date of the order or 180 days after publication of the Copyright Office’s AI study, which is currently underway. The order further states that “the recommendations shall address any copyright and related issues discussed in the [Copyright Office’s] study, including the scope of protection for works produced using AI and the treatment of copyrighted works in AI training.” (The Authors Guild recently filed comprehensive comments in response to the study.)

Collective Bargaining: The order also underscores the importance of collective bargaining, recognizing that as AI reshapes industries, all workers should have a voice in this transformation. The emphasis on collective bargaining is consonant with other efforts the administration and executive agencies have taken to enhance worker bargaining power and erode monopoly and monopsony influences from markets, including the creative markets. The Authors Guild has been engaged with the administration’s policymakers on these issues, and we hope that the executive order will give agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission increased bandwidth to take action.

The Road Ahead

As an executive order, the Biden administration’s comprehensive plan for regulating AI has a limited effect. While its directives only apply to the executive branches of the government, the standards created under the order are likely to serve as a reference for policymaking in other branches of the government and have an impact on industry practices through federal contracts and grants. Specifically, with respect to copyright, we can expect more detailed recommendations following the publication of the Copyright Office’s AI study.  

We will keep you updated on our advocacy and further developments. You can read a short summary of the order here.