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AI-Generated Ripoffs of Original Books Being Sold on Amazon, Authors Cry Foul

Photo: Analytics Insight

Numerous authors have been left shocked and concerned after discovering artificial intelligence (AI)-generated duplicates of their books available for sale on the e-commerce giant Amazon.

One such author, writer-journalist Rory Cellan-Jones, recently stumbled upon a memoir bearing his name on Amazon, complete with a “naively designed cover by someone he had never heard of,” as reported by The Guardian. Cellan-Jones expressed his astonishment, stating, “I thought: ‘This is strange—who’s writing a biography of me?'”

It was revealed that the memoir contained text seemingly generated by AI, highlighting the extent to which AI models like ChatGPT have empowered individuals to produce pages of text without any original authorship involved.

Although Amazon removed the biography and other titles attributed to the pseudonymous author, concerns remain as “plenty more get through the filters intended to weed out low-quality books,” as stated in the report.

In another instance, fifteen AI-generated books credited to an author named ‘Steven Walryn’ were published on Amazon in a single day, only to be taken down months later.

Author Jane Friedman, known for her writings about publishing, also faced a similar ordeal in August when she compelled Amazon to remove five fraudulent titles falsely attributed to her, all of which were AI-generated.

Commenting on the issue, Nicola Solomon, the chief executive of the Society of Authors (SoA), noted, “Amazon is clearly facing significant challenges with the influx of AI-generated products in its stores, and it appears to be playing catchup.”

Furthermore, prominent authors such as Margaret Atwood, Viet Thanh Nguyen, and Philip Pullman have raised concerns that their work is being utilized to train AI models without their consent, compensation, or acknowledgement.

In response to these concerns, an Amazon spokesperson emphasized the company’s commitment to maintaining content quality, stating, “We invest significant time and resources to ensure our guidelines are followed and remove books that do not adhere to them.” The spokesperson clarified that while Amazon permits AI-generated content, it does not tolerate AI-generated content that violates its content guidelines or creates a subpar customer experience.

Last month, The Authors’ Guild, alongside 17 renowned authors including Jonathan Franzen, John Grisham, George R.R. Martin, and Jodi Picoult, filed a fresh lawsuit in the Southern District of New York against OpenAI. The complaint alleges that OpenAI “copied plaintiffs’ works wholesale, without permission or consideration,” and incorporated copyrighted materials into large language models.

Simultaneously, authors Michael Chabon, David Henry Hwang, Rachel Louise Snyder, and Ayelet Waldman filed a lawsuit in the same month, asserting that OpenAI benefits from the “unauthorized and illegal use” of their copyrighted content.

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