Post: Can authors use AI to write books?


Plagiarism is typically defined as using another entity’s ideas or written work while attempting to pass it off as your own. It is basically a type of theft, and in some cases might constitute copyright infringement. However, what if the source from which you’ve obtained the content is artificial intelligence (AI)? Is this ethical? Can authors use AI to create fiction or non-fiction stories?

U.S. copyright law contains a “fair use doctrine.” This helps protect writers (and publishers) from copyright infringement lawsuits. Under such laws, it is basically understood that many books contain copyrighted materials, used without permission. The courts review the specifics of each copyright infringement claim and determine whether the “fair use doctrine” applies. However, generative AI is still in its developmental stages. There are no concrete answers to questions such as whether fair use doctrines apply in cases where authors have used AI to generate a book.

US Copyright Office says AI-generated writing belongs to no one

In a 2018 case, the U.S. Copyright Office rejected a copyright application. The deciding factor in the case was that the written material in question was 100% AI-generated. There was zero human input. The written work was created through algorithms that were running on a machine. The Office ruled that no one owned the material because only humans can possess ownership. 

There have also been cases where authors have written books while using AI to illustrate them. In such cases, copyrights have been granted regarding the text of such books only, not the images. 

Publishers are adding serviceable AI clauses to their contracts

To stay ahead of the game, many publishers have begun adding various types of clauses to their author contracts. For example, it’s becoming common for publishers to require authors to disclose their use of AI to readers. In some cases, publishers may refuse to accept AI-generated content. By signing such a contract, the author is testifying that no AI was used in preparation of a manuscript submission. 

AI-generated content is sure to be a topic in many legal discussions as more and more companies and writers are using it to create written material. Do you think it’s ethical? Have you used AI to write a book, an essay or a social media post? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic, so feel free to leave a comment under this post on our Facebook page.