Our principles for AI and authors

Recent developments in artificial intelligence have created a wave of excitement about its possible applications, but also genuine concern about the potential for writers’ works to be exploited without recognition or compensation.

Last month we answered some of the most common questions around AI. This month, we wanted to share what ALCS is doing as an organisations to ensure that concerns for writers are heard and addressed.

We believe that AI has the potential to benefit authors and support their creativity, but only if the technology develops in a way that rejects exploitation and recognises its reliance on the works of authors to function. For this to become a reality, we need an effective and appropriate policy framework.

We have outlined a set of principles that must be considered in any future policy decisions. The principles are intended to be general and not restricted to any particular technology, which means they will continue to be relevant as existing technologies develop and new technologies emerge.


Human authors should be compensated for their work. New technologies must respect the established precedent of no use without payment. Licensing is an effective way of ensuring authors are paid for use of their work.

Technological developments must not be used to undermine authors’ rights. New developments in technology cannot be used as an excuse to erode the established fundamental rights of authors.

Licensing terms should be carefully considered to ensure they include every use of an author’s work. New technologies are capable of analysing an existing work and using the content to create many other works. Authors should be compensated every time their work has been used to create something new, not just when their work is first analysed.

Stakeholders must acknowledge the limitations of AI. AI is trained on data created by humans, and so has a tendency to repeat and reinforce human biases and misconceptions.

Policymakers and industry should seek applications of AI that support creators. If AI is used to diminish the role of creators on the creative process, it will have devastating cultural and economic consequences.

You can read the document in full here.


We hope that these principles will be used by policymakers and industry leaders as a basis for an effective policy framework that enshrines rather than undermines human agency and creativity. To this end, we will continue to engage with policymakers and ensure that the interests of UK writers are represented.

Earlier this month, ALCS board member Tom Chatfield, gave a presentation on AI to MPs at the All-Party Parliamentary Writer’s Group AGM, where he described how generative AI works, provided amusing examples such as an AI-generated MP diary and outlined the enormous scale of potential copyright infringement involved in these models.

Tom also participated as a panellist in a webinar on AI and copyright hosted by the International Authors Forum (IAF) on 23 May, alongside Authors’ Guild CEO and Vice Chair of IAF, Mary Rasenberger, and Legal Adviser at the World Intellectual Property Organization, Paolo Lanteri.

Next month, we will contribute to the government consultation on its recent white paper on AI. We will draw on our principles outlined above, as well as discussions with our partner organisations, to develop a response that stresses the importance of safeguarding the rights and livelihoods of authors.

We have already seen some success in guiding government policy in this area. ALCS and our partner organisations played a key role in the government’s U-turn on a proposed new copyright exception for text and data mining. This would have allowed AI companies to legally use copyrighted works in their models. In February, the government announced it wouldn’t proceed with the new exception due to the backlash from the creative industries.

Later this year, we will consult with our members on artificial intelligence to gain insights and ensure that we are adequately addressing your concerns.