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AI-Generated Text Wins Major Award With Implications For Copyright And Creativity: Self-Publishing News Podcast With Dan Holloway

AI-Generated Text Wins Major Award With Implications for Copyright and Creativity: Self-Publishing News Podcast with Dan Holloway

On the Self-Publishing News podcast with Dan Holloway: As a novel whose text is 5 percent AI-generated wins a major award, where does that leave copyright and creativity?

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On the Self-Publishing News podcast with @agnieszkasshoes: As a novel whose text is 5 percent AI-generated wins a major award, where does that leave copyright and creativity? Click To Tweet

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About the Host

Dan Holloway is a novelist, poet, and spoken word artist. He is the MC of the performance arts show The New Libertines, He competed at the National Poetry Slam final at the Royal Albert Hall. His latest collection, The Transparency of Sutures, is available on Kindle.

Read the Transcripts to Self-Publishing News: AI-Generated Text

Dan Holloway: Hello and welcome to another Self-Publishing News podcast from an unseasonably sunny Oxford, where I've just been enjoying the delights of a winter ruck to set the day off perfectly, and having done that, what better thing to do than to settle down to a really interesting and varied week in the news.

The hidden truth behind Netflix’s subscriber increase

We start with some interesting figures from Netflix, and most of all, some interesting reactions to those figures.

Netflix, as we know, had a boom, as all streaming services did at the start of the pandemic, then it went downhill from there. There was all sorts of questions. Is the streaming market saturated? Do people really want to receive content this way? Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

The headline news is that in the last quarter of 2023, Netflix had its best numbers since 2020. They added 13.1 million subscribers, and that is really interesting.

It's interesting because it suggests streaming might not be dead, which of course is relevant for us as more and more digital book content moves to streaming services, especially as the number of audiobooks being produced increases, and the simplicity and low cost of audiobook production continues to proliferate.

But it's also really interesting to see how people have been reacting to this. So, the BBC in the UK led on this story, and they led on it by tying it to the increasing crackdown that Netflix has been enforcing in recent months on password sharing.

So, password sharing, I'm sure no listeners would do such a thing, but lots of people were basically setting up multiple accounts.

They weren't, as you are legitimately allowed to do, accounts from the same household, just on different devices, different locations. They were completely different people who weren't at all related, nothing to do with the same household, sharing and using the same password and so only paying one subscription for, essentially lots of subscribers.

So, Netflix has been cracking down on this and threatening to close down accounts where they suspect people of password sharing, and since they did that, there has been a rise in subscribers steadily and the steady increase has, it seems, continued. So, the question is whether that is a correlation or a causal relationship.

It's really hard to tell. We will probably only find out in the long term, but clearly this is the take that has been taken on one side is that this isn't to do with subscription booming, it's to do with the way that Netflix have got stricter and enforcing rules.

On the other hand, we have Mark Williams, highlights a fascinating piece from Sölve Dahlgren, who is from Boktugg, which is one of the leading Scandinavian subscriber platforms. What he notes is that there has been a real increase where such a thing is available in Netflix's ad-supported service. So, this is a lower price tier that they introduced last year that enables people to pay less to subscribe but have ad content.

This option now has 23 million subscribers. It's available in 12 countries, and where it's available, it now accounts for 30 percent of new subscribers. So, that's really quite significant. And what Dahlgren suggests is that this implies that people are willing to listen to ads in order to pay less.

It's the opposite of the argument that you get with the likes of YouTube and Spotify where they say people are willing to pay more in order not to have adverts, here we're having someone saying people are willing to pay less and put up with adverts for that.

That obviously has implications for a lot of the dedicated literary subscription services, which at the moment don't have ads. So, there are no ads during audiobooks, for example, Story Tel. There are also, of course, no ads at the moment during eBooks.

For things like Kindle Unlimited, it will be really interesting to see if such a thing is introduced. Obviously, it will be most interesting to see how audiobook content on Spotify goes, how much the different tiers of membership of Spotify will affect how audiobook content, as opposed to music content, is received.

Really interesting figures, it will be fascinating to see what direction that takes.

Indie bookstore launches fund-raising campaign

Moving from there, moving right over to the other side of the indie scene, and indie print books, and it's lovely to lead this week's stories with news of a campaign for a dedicated indie print book bookstore.

The store is called Under the Covers, and the first location for an Under the Covers store is proposed to be Bournemouth, which is something that is dear to my heart. I spent many summers as a kid in Bournemouth with my grandparents, playing on the beach and spending lots of time, actually in the snooker halls and the Army Surplus store, and there was also a stamp shop, I remember, opposite my gran's, and I spent lots of time in there; it's one of the places where I first discovered my fascination with stamp collecting, stamp albums, and so on.

It will be a really interesting venue for such a place, and it would be really interesting to see how it works. Obviously, there will be a cafe attached to the bookshop, because the indie book scene is built around community, and community these days seems to be built around cafes.

It would be fascinating, I'm sure I will be one of the first customers, if indeed it does open, and that brings me to the reason why it's in the news.

The reason why it's in the news, is they have just launched a campaign on Indiegogo. So, do go and check it out if you think that's a good idea. One of the really interesting things about the rewards for funders is there are lots of author related rewards. So, if you donate a certain amount, you will get table space, or cover on space, or dedicated special promotional space when the store opens. So, do go and check that out.

Book written using ChatGPT wins prize

Saving the AI for last, inevitably there has been some AI news this week. The really interesting story is a story that's come out of Japan, and that is that one of the most prestigious Japanese awards, the Akutagawa Prize, has gone to Rie Kudan for her novel, forgive the pronunciation, Tōkyō-to Dōjō Tō, which means Tokyo Sympathy Tower, and it's an AI-themed book.

Having won it, the author, admitted it feels like the wrong word because that sort of implies a moral judgment, but the author stated that she had used ChatGPT to write some of the book and that about, she said, 5 percent of the book's sentences were pasted direct from ChatGPT.

So, to give you a sense of what that means for a 300-page novel, 5 percent would be 15 pages that were directly produced by AI. So, it's really interesting, and Mark Williams makes a big thing of this, it's really interesting for everyone who's said that AI could never do this bit of what humans can do and produce really good readable fiction, because clearly someone thinks they can.

What's also really interesting is how this relates to copyright law, because of course, one of the fundamental principles of copyright law that seems to be being enforced across the world is that copyright is only applicable to things that have an element of human creation or are fundamentally created by humans.

Large portions of this book are not created by a human in the way that the law currently recognizes. What that is going to mean for the copyright protection afforded to the book, and indeed translations of the book, is something that remains to be seen, and we will all be watching that space.

Writers Union of Canada calls for AI legislation

That brings me to the final AI-related story, which is that the Writers Union of Canada has become the latest writer’s group to call for new legislation on Copyright and AI.

Obviously, things are going in various different directions. You've got some organizations who are just sitting down and doing deals. The latest of these is Reuters, obviously the big international news company. You've got others who are saying no, we're not going to do any deals at all ever.

It's interesting that in response to one of the lawsuits, the lawsuit from the New York Times, Sam Altman from OpenAI has made the really interesting point. He said, yeah, we need creative copyright protected content in order to train our AI, and this is the key bit, no one particular big data set is essential to us. So, it's essential we have it in general, but it's not essential that we have this one or that one.

So, if the New York Times, who spent six months negotiating, of course, with OpenAI before negotiations broke down, and they decided to take things to court, if they decide they don't want to accept an offer that's on the table, fair enough, is basically what he's saying, we'll go somewhere else and find someone who does.

Pragmatically, that's going to be really interesting for setting the tone for how writer’s groups and content producers in general negotiate, because essentially what is being said is, we need you, but we don't need you that much. So, it's not a threat, but it's a reminder of the reality of the situation that if an offer is on the table and you don't accept it or we don't accept it, then the offer might not be there forever.

I've talked about this before, about the fact that there is a window here and in the near future, when there might be payment for such things; that window won't be around forever.

It's going to be really interesting, as I always say, to see how these things play out.

I will, of course, keep you informed on any future developments, and on that note, I look forward to seeing you next week from what I hope is an equally sunny, unseasonably sunny, Oxford.

Thank you very much and stay safe.

Author: Howard Lovy

Howard Lovy is an author, book editor, and journalist. He is also the Content and Communications Manager for the Alliance of Independent Authors, where he hosts and produces podcasts and keeps the blog updated. You can find more of his work at https://howardlovy.com/

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This Post Has One Comment
  1. Hi Dan,

    Great points, whilst I think AI is a great tool, we need content creators to better edit content.

    I think AI using references may help with the copyright issue.

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