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March 4, 2024

The latest AI developments

Artificial intelligence has remained at the top of our advocacy agenda with new developments since the start of this year; new AI Reference Groups have been established, statements from international book industry organisations have been issued, and a UK Parliamentary Committee – to which the UK Society of Authors made a submission – has highlighted serious concerns about using copyright material for training large language models. Read our summary of these developments below.

AI Reference Groups

The ASA has been invited onto the Attorney-General’s Copyright and Artificial Intelligence Reference Group (CAIRG), which was formulated at the end of last year following the conclusion of the Copyright Roundtable discussions. The first meeting was held in late February to discuss governance arrangements and the work plan for 2024. 

The Minister for Industry and Science, Ed Husic, has also established the Artificial Intelligence Expert Group following the Interim Report into Safe and Responsible AI in Australia. The 12-person group includes Dr Terri Janke, lawyer and international authority on Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property, and Professor Toby Walsh, author and professor of artificial intelligence at UNSW. They will provide advice to the Department on transparency, testing, and accountability to help ensure AI systems are safe.

International book industry statements on AI

The International Authors Forum (IAF) has published a set of principles regarding artificial intelligence and authorship, to be used as guidance for discussions and policy making. We welcome the setting out of these principles, which align with our position on the development of artificial intelligence. The principles include:

  • Transparency: there must be transparency about when and how an author’s work is being used by AI systems, as well as transparency on outputs
  • Authorisation: authors must have the right to grant or withhold permission for use of their work
  • Fair compensation: authors should be appropriately remunerated for any use of their work
  • Ensuring creators can earn a living: any development of artificial intelligence must not come at the cost of creators’ livelihoods – technological developments must not conflict with the normal exploitation of copyright works, nor harm the rightsholders
  • Respect for creators’ moral rights: An author’s moral rights must be upheld, including the right to attribution and the right to object to certain uses of their work.


The International Publishers Association (IPA) has also issued a clear and definitive statement about generative AI and copyright, stating:

“Generative AI companies depend on creative works of authorship to fuel and train their tools and products. Some of these companies claim that they do not have to seek permission or pay for the works they are so freely usurping for their advantage, but this is false…Licensing is simple in the digital age, and there is no excuse to ignore it. Direct and collective licensing models are ubiquitous, flexible, efficient, and continue to evolve. Technology companies can respect copyright and avoid liability. There is no need to except them from the well-established rules of copyright.”

UK House of Lords Committee urges Government to protect creators

In a report published 2 February, a House of Lords Committee has recommended the UK Government take action to stop the flouting of copyright law by AI companies. The Committee recognised that “large language models (LLMs) will introduce epoch-defining changes comparable to the invention of the internet” but expressed “deeper concerns about the Government’s commitment to fair play around copyright”. 

In unambiguous terms, the Committee has stated, “LLMs may offer immense value to society. But that does not warrant the violation of copyright law or its underpinning principles. We do not believe it is fair for tech firms to use rightsholder data for commercial purposes without permission or compensation, and to gain vast financial rewards in the process.”

The Committee also urged swift action: “The point of copyright is to reward creators for their efforts, prevent others from using works without permission, and incentivise innovation. The current legal framework is failing to ensure these outcomes occur and the Government has a duty to act. It cannot sit on its hands for the next decade and hope the courts will provide an answer.”

Findaway and Spotify’s Terms of Use change

Findaway Voices – an audiobook distributor for indie authors acquired by Spotify in 2022 – recently announced an update to their terms of service which alarmed indie authors and authors groups internationally. The change in terms, says the UK Society of Authors, “gave Findaway Voices a range of new rights over creators’ works, including permission to ‘create derivative works’ from the audiobooks posted by creators to the platform – without their consent or remuneration – and included a blanket waiver of moral rights.”

While Findaway Voices and Spotify quickly worked to revise their terms of use, the terms of service have not entirely removed reference to using audiobooks for training purposes. The Society of Authors UK is calling for clarification of this language.

As ever, we highly recommend authors and illustrators reviewing the terms of service before you sign, and if you have any hesitations at all, contact the ASA via our Member Advice Service.

The ASA will continue to advocate to the Australian Government on behalf of authors and illustrators and will keep you updated on further developments.