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August 9, 2023

Artificial intelligence: ASA guidance for creators

Generative artificial intelligence is rapidly evolving and is already having an impact on the book industry: AI-generated spam books under high profile authors’ names are being sold online, some publishers are using AI to generate jacket images, and publishing service providers and distributors are introducing terms in their contracts which allow for use of work in training AI.

The emergence of AI tools presents risks to authors’ and illustrators’ professional practice, so we’ve prepared some guidelines to help you try to safeguard your work and protect your interests. We will review this guidance as new challenges and opportunities emerge. 

Please note that the advice we are providing is general guidance only. If you are seeking specific advice relating to your circumstances, please contact us via our Member Advice Service, or for legal advice, via Authors Legal.


Generative AI tools such as ChatGPT and Midjourney use machine learning to generate written work or images based upon a user’s inputs, at the click of a button. These tools rely on training datasets to generate text and images – training datasets which include books, journals, essays, and articles all ingested from the internet without permission from, or compensation to, creators.


We have made it clear to Government that we consider the large-scale scraping and exploitation of works without permission to be copyright infringement, and have outlined several regulatory recommendations. However, regulatory intervention will take time – in the interim, what can you do to protect your work?

The key piece of advice we can offer is to be vigilant. If you are signing a contract or agreeing to terms of service, be aware of what you are agreeing to. If you’ve already signed with a publisher, find out about their intentions when it comes to using AI for the production of your book to ensure you’re on the same page. If you plan to use generative AI, be aware that there is an ethical landscape to navigate and you should be satisfied that you understand the risks involved. Generative AI tools are built on the back of unremunerated appropriation of copyright works and, given the international outcry from creatives around the world, you should be aware that your use of these tools may harm your author or illustrator brand. 

If you are unsure, seek advice.

Given this evolving situation, we recommend that you include an AI clause in all future publishing contracts. If you do not wish for your work to be used to train artificial intelligence software to generate text or art, then it is prudent to set the parameters of your licences clearly. 

You might wish to:

  • make clear, for the avoidance of any doubt, that your publisher does not have the right to sub-license others to reproduce your work for AI training purposes
  • make clear that your work cannot be used for text and data mining without your prior consent 
  • include a broad reservation of rights clause in your publishing contract, making clear that if the right is not expressly granted to the publisher, it is reserved to you
  • oblige your publisher to consult with you before using AI technologies to narrate your audiobook, translate your book, illustrate your book, design your cover, or edit your work beyond spell-checking and grammar-checking. 


This final point is important; it is the authors, less so the publishers, who have been roundly criticised online for use of generative AI in their cover design and are at risk of brand damage. 

For advice on specific drafting, or if you are asked to sign a contract with an AI clause that you don’t understand, please seek guidance from Authors Legal

For self-publishing authors, the general principle should be applied; understand the terms you are agreeing to in your contracts with publishing service providers, aggregators, and distributors of your work.

Additionally, you may also want to include a ‘no AI training’ notice on the copyright or imprint page of your books. The US Authors Guild has provided an example of such a notice:

No AI Training: Without in any way limiting the author’s [and publisher’s] exclusive rights under copyright, any use of this publication to “train” generative artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to generate text is expressly prohibited. The author reserves all rights to license uses of this work for generative AI training and development of machine learning language models.

While this is not a foolproof measure, it is a clear statement of your rights. 

You must also understand that only humans can be authors of a copyright work. If your work is entirely generated by AI, it is not currently protected under Australian copyright law. This may have implications for submissions to publishers, grants, competitions, and awards. In submission processes, it is incumbent upon creators to be transparent about their use of AI to maintain a sense of trust both within the creative community and with their readers.

For all authors and illustrators publishing content on their website or blog they’d like to protect, you can prevent unauthorised scraping of your content through restricting web crawlers. To do so you will need to add or update your robots.txt file – find out how to do this via Google.

If you are seeking specific advice relating to your circumstances, please contact us via our Member Advice Service, or for legal advice, via Authors Legal.