In a concerning development, an author recently shared her struggle with Amazon to remove books that had been written using generative artificial intelligence (AI) but were being sold under her name. Although current generative AI systems are not yet capable of perfectly mimicking the writing style of a specific author, they are being trained using the words of established writers. This has raised concerns among thousands of professional authors as it is only a matter of time before AI can produce indistinguishable copies of a real author’s work.
Jane Friedman, a veteran author, experienced firsthand the frustration of finding products sold online with her name on them that she did not write or publish. She called these books “garbage” and expressed her concern about the serious problem it poses to the publishing industry. When she approached Amazon to take down the books, she faced challenges. The company asked for trademark registration numbers, which she did not have, and eventually closed the case without removing the books.
Friedman discovered the existence of these fraudulent books when a reader contacted her about her new “style,” which she described as poor quality. Further investigation revealed around six titles written under her name, and to her dismay, these phony books were being sold and appeared on her official page on Goodreads, an Amazon-owned platform. Friedman voiced her frustrations on Twitter and reached out to Amazon through her column in Publishers Weekly, leading to the removal of the fake titles.
However, the incident highlights a deeper issue. Amazon does not currently have a policy governing AI-generated books sold under established authors’ names. It has been suggested that these books should at least come with a disclaimer stating that they are AI-generated. Nonetheless, if AI ever reaches a point where it can match an author’s skill, it begs the question of the purpose of human authors and raises existential concerns.
The need for companies to address these problems seriously has been emphasized. It is not about banning AI altogether but finding a way to coexist with it while respecting human creators. This includes protecting authors from the potential misuse of the technology by bad actors. The incident serves as a wake-up call for the industry to address the ethical and practical implications of AI-generated content.