Fake Books on Amazon: Authors Grapple with AI-Based Impersonation

A concerning trend has emerged within the publishing industry as authors contend with the proliferation of fake books on Amazon, generated by artificial intelligence (AI). While scams in the publishing world are not a new phenomenon, the rise of generative AI technology presents uncharted territory. Authors like Jane Friedman have become increasingly alarmed after discovering several suspicious titles attributed to their names, most likely the work of AI-generated text.

The Authors Guild, a professional organization for published writers, recently sent a letter, signed by over 10,000 authors, to tech companies such as OpenAI and Meta Platforms, urging them to compensate authors and obtain consent for using their works to train AI tools. This call for action highlights the urgent need to address the ethical and legal challenges posed by AI-generated content.

While Amazon has automated systems in place to combat intellectual property (IP) infringement, they often lack the nuance required to tackle these AI-generated impostors effectively. The difficulty lies in distinguishing between copyright infringement and right-of-publicity issues. Authors face the violation of their names and likeness being attached to books without their permission, a matter not easily resolved through existing copyright laws.

To address this issue, experts suggest that Amazon should streamline the process of resolving right-of-publicity issues. The Authors Guild can mediate complaints, but comprehensive mechanisms need to be established, enabling authors to track and report AI-generated content violations effectively.

The subsidiary company Goodreads, which operates on Amazon, also faces challenges in combating fake books. The platform heavily relies on volunteer librarians who struggle to identify fraudulent titles from genuine ones. Suggestions for improvement include implementing a “tag” function to mark AI-generated or fan-fiction content, ensuring clear differentiation from authors’ original work.

Authors like Jane Friedman have begun taking proactive measures, including trademarking their names, which would provide legal protection and enable them to utilize Amazon’s “brand registry” feature. While trademarking author names is uncommon, it may become a necessary step in safeguarding authors from AI-based impersonation.

As the publishing industry grapples with the implications of generative AI technology, industry professionals highlight the need for collaboration between tech companies, authors, and platforms like Amazon to establish effective safeguards against AI-generated fake books.


What is generative artificial intelligence?

Generative artificial intelligence refers to technology that can produce large amounts of text or content in the style or voice of existing authors.

What challenges do authors face with AI-generated content?

Authors face the misappropriation of their names and likeness being attached to books without their permission, which isn’t easily addressed by existing copyright laws.

What action has the Authors Guild taken?

The Authors Guild has written a letter to tech companies, calling for compensation and consent for the use of authors’ works to train AI tools. They aim to address the ethical and legal challenges posed by AI-generated content.

How can platforms like Amazon and Goodreads combat fake books?

Platforms should establish clearer procedures to resolve right-of-publicity issues and develop mechanisms to track and report AI-generated content violations. Goodreads can consider implementing a “tag” function to differentiate AI-generated or fan-fiction content from genuine authors’ work.

What preventive measures can authors take?

Authors can consider trademarking their names, providing legal protection and enabling them to utilize platforms’ proactive protective features, such as Amazon’s “brand registry.”

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