ALCS joint statement on Government’s AI Safety Summit

ALCS joins the Publishers Association, the Society of Authors and the Association of Authors' Agents in welcoming the summit and reiterating our call for greater protection and support for human creativity.

This week, the UK government is hosting an international summit on mitigating the significant risks that AI poses to society. 

We recognise the immense challenges that AI poses to the creative industries, and that is why we are actively campaigning to protect human authors. Earlier this year, we published our Authors and AI Principles, which outlines a set of principles that must be considered when developing policy in this area. 

We have joined with the Publishers Association, the Society of Authors and the Association of Authors’ Agents to express the concerns of the wider publishing industry ahead of the summit. You can read the statement in full below. 

Our statement 

As a society we should support human authorship unequivocally. It is of the utmost importance that the Government puts in place tangible solutions as soon as possible to protect the human creativity and knowledge that underpins safe and reliable AI. Human creativity is the bedrock of the publishing and wider creative industries. That creativity will be worth around £116 billion this year in the UK alone. 

We applaud the Prime Minister for convening the first ever AI Safety Summit this week and for positioning the UK as a facilitator for strong global action on artificial intelligence and it is right for the UK to seek to be a leading light in development of AI, embracing the many benefits it can bring when used responsibly and ethically as a tool. The publishing industry was an early adopter of AI and we fully recognise the potential benefits and opportunities it can bring to our industry with AI tools that help us enhance human creativity and academic endeavour by reaching our audiences, marketing our books and journals more effectively, and improving processes and systems. However, it must be used ethically and legally, and its use must be regulated.  

We need urgent confirmation from Government to ensure that AI systems cannot continue to use copyright-protected works with impunity. Creative work – and industries like publishing that are built on it – can only thrive under the right conditions: a strong copyright regime, compensation, credit for authors and other creators, and rightsholders’ control. But those conditions are being undermined – and creative works devalued – by today’s unfettered, opaque development of AI systems, which have been designed using copyright-protected works used without permission or payment. 

We need acknowledgement of and recompense for the copyright infringement that has already happened – including the pirated Books3 database used to develop many high profile systems – and assurances that those practices will end. We need practices based on consent and fair payment to ensure that authors and rightsholders are asked for permission and rewarded for the use of their works. We need to ensure that creators are credited when their works are used to generate derivative outputs. 

And we need transparency and attribution. An end to the opaque development of AI is long overdue. We can only ensure that with strong Government support. 

This is an issue on which the entire publishing industry is united. It is vital that authors and rightsholders are protected by Government as AI continues to be developed. We urge the Prime Minister to make a statement of commitment to protecting the value of human creativity, intellectual property, and publishing and the creative industries, while these new technologies evolve. 

You can find out more about our campaigning work on behalf of authors here.