Amazon orders self-publishers to disclose AI-generated content

Complaints about AI-produced works sold under human writers’ names have forced Amazon to announce the requirement that authors inform it when content is machine-generated.

The company announced the new rules on its Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) forum on Wednesday. KDP allows authors to self-publish their books and put them up for sale on Amazon’s site.

“We require you to inform us of AI-generated content (text, images, or translations) when you publish a new book or make edits to and republish an existing book through KDP. AI-generated images include cover and interior images and artwork,” the company said in the updated guidelines.

In other words, writers who wish to sell books through Amazon’s e-book program now need to tell the firm in advance that their work includes AI material.

The Authors Guild and other similar organizations praised the new regulations as a “welcome first step” toward deterring the proliferation of computer-generated books on the online retailer’s site.

The fear is that computer-generated works could flood the platform and displace human authors. Besides, selling AI-generated books would be unfair to consumers who didn’t know they were buying this type of content, the Authors Guild, uniting more than 13,000 American writers, said.

“In recent months, we have seen examples of AI-generated books ascending the best-seller lists on Amazon, and content farms appropriating the names, styles, and content of well-known authors such as Jane Friedman,” the Guild said in a statement.

“This is grossly unfair to the writers who bring unique life experiences and talent to their work, and who cannot fairly compete against industrialized content farms.”

In August, Friedman complained on her website that several books, which she believed were created by AI tools, were falsely listed as being written by her. The books were removed by Amazon shortly after.

The Guild helped organize an open letter in July urging AI firms not to use copyrighted material without permission. Writers like James Patterson, Suzanne Collins, and Margaret Atwood are among those who endorsed the letter.

It’s a bit too early to celebrate, though, because Amazon will not be publicly identifying books that have been mostly or entirely written or illustrated using AI, at least for now. Besides, as Friedman herself succinctly put it, “there are no surefire detection methods for AI-generated material today.”

Finally, Amazon states that sellers are not required to disclose when content is AI-assisted, as opposed to completely written using a machine. According to the company, this sort of content is classified as that created by authors themselves but where AI tools are used to “edit, refine, error-check, or otherwise improve” work.

“Similarly, if you used an AI-based tool to brainstorm and generate ideas, but ultimately created the text or images yourself, this is also considered ‘AI-assisted’ and not ‘AI-generated.’ It is not necessary to inform us of the use of such tools or processes,” Amazon said.

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