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Alice Munro’s Legacy, British Book Awards, And Tech Legal Battles: The Self-Publishing News Podcast With Dan Holloway

Alice Munro’s Legacy, British Book Awards, and Tech Legal Battles: The Self-Publishing News Podcast with Dan Holloway

On the ALLi Self-Publishing News Podcast, Dan Holloway pays tribute to the late Nobel Prize-winning author Alice Munro and highlights recent British Book Awards winners, including Rebecca Yarros's Fourth Wing. He covers major tech and legal news: OpenAI’s disbanded risk project, the EU's fine on Microsoft, and ByteDance’s legal battle over TikTok. Dan also discusses Sony Music’s legal stance on AI and the ongoing mysteries in the blockchain world.

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Listen to Self-Publishing News: British Book Awards

On the Self-Publishing News podcast, @agnieszkasshoes pays tribute to the late Nobel Prize-winning author Alice Munro and highlights recent British Book Awards winners. 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: British Book Awards

Dan Holloway: Hello and welcome to another self-publishing news podcast from here in Oxford where I made the mistake of going out into the center of town earlier in the day to find out that apparently that some sports balling has been happening. Oxford sports ballers did some sports balling and won a thing, and the whole of the city center is going absolutely febrile with people celebrating, and open top buses, and all sorts of stuff like that, that marks summer, and everything that is the English summer; loud people celebrating football.

My own sporting, I was not going to say prowess, amusement yesterday was to run around the stately surroundings of Blenheim Palace. The home, of course, of the Marlborough family, and in that long line, of course, Winston Churchill. Yes, the Blenheim Palace fun run. That was my sport yesterday. My sport today was to try and avoid football fans in the center of Oxford, but nonetheless, congratulations to Oxford.

Paying Tribute to Alice Munro

It has been a busy week in the literary world, and all the things relating to us. No particularly big story, but lots of fairly little stories. Although the one thing that has hung over the week, that has felt like a shadow hanging over us, is of course the death of Alice Munro, the Nobel Prize winning short story writer.

I spent some time on the Nobel Academy website looking up the citations they give. So, they have to give a reason why they are putting forward candidates or winners for the Nobel Prize in Literature, and this citation must sum up how the writer in question, I think the phrase is, it takes the form in an ideal direction. So, you get all these complicated and highfalutin sounding citations. Very fitting that the Alice Munro's citation when she won the award in 2013 is the shortest since 1931 and reads simply, ‘master of contemporary short story.' A perfect tribute to the greatest short story writer of our, and possibly any, time. So, RIP to Alice Munro.

British Book Awards Winners Shows Romantasy on the Rise

It feels somewhat banal to go from that to the winners of the Nibbies, the British Book Awards. No one, much as Rory Stewart stood to be leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister of the UK, I don't think even he would claim to be in her esteemed company, but he was the big-name winner in the British Book Awards for his political memoir, Politics on the Edge.

But the thing I particularly noticed was the page turner winner, which is Rebecca Yarros's, Fourth Wing, so no surprises there. That's the book that has come up in pretty much every list you'll find, whether it's bestsellers or award winners, viewer's favorites or reader's favorites, or the book most likely to be recommended on TikTok.

Wherever you look, it is everywhere and it is one of the books that's been at the heart of the burgeoning of the romantasy genre this year, and will no doubt be spawning many imitators in the months and years to come, no doubt many of them from our own indie ranks, and I think many of us will be thankful to Rebecca Yarros for opening up new vistas, and new possibilities, and new readerships that we can serve as best we can.

OpenAI Disbands Risk Team While EU Threatens to Fine Microsoft Over AI Risk

A strange news week in the tech world, it provided me with some rather snarky comments about AI safety.

So, I noted that OpenAI has disbanded one of its major teams looking at risk, the so-called super alignment team, which it set up to look at what could possibly go wrong with AI, all the things to do with AI and risk.

That happened in the same week that the European Union has threatened to fine Microsoft a billion dollars as one of the first victims of its Digital Safety Act, and it is threatening to fine them for failing to provide information about, of all things, the risk of AI, in particular related to its image creator and copilot tools.

So, what more perfect time for OpenAI to be winding down their risk operations?

Buyers Line Up to Purchase TikTok

Talking of litigation, TikTok, of course, has been in the news a lot this year. The US president signed an act into being that would outlaw TikTok if it is not sold by its parent company ByteDance within nine months.

Needless to say, buyers are lining up ready to fork out. I think the figures that I've been seeing bandied around are about a hundred billion dollars, that people are wanting to pay for TikTok, just for the US rights to, or the US operation of TikTok, that is.

Even if they successfully bought the company, then they wouldn't be able to use its current algorithm, because as well as various political fears, there are worries about what its algorithm is doing for disinformation.

Any potential buyer of TikTok will have to change its algorithm to make it less harmful, as they're saying. Again, there we go, tech and risk, but it is something that we will be keeping a very firm eye on, because obviously, as I said with Rebecca Yarros and the whole romantasy genre, TikTok is big in the book world. It is opening up whole new readerships. What will happen to those readerships and more as yet undiscovered, untapped readerships if it were to be banned in the US? Who knows?

Needless to say, ByteDance aren't looking like they are going to sell, no matter how many people want to buy. Instead, they are challenging the law.

Sony Music Issues Warning to AI Companies

That brings us nicely to two more challenges involving lawyers and technology to round out the stories. The first of those comes from Sony Music. Sony Music, of course, were involved, if anyone has watched the Netflix series, The Playlist. It's one of my favorite series on Netflix, I highly recommend it if you haven't seen it already.

It's the story of Spotify, and the disagreements between Sony Music and Spotify feature prominently in that. Obviously, Sony also were part of the move that brought down Napster. It feels like it must be actually a generation ago now, Napster. Obviously, from the early noughties.

Now, Sony has turned its legal attention towards AI. It's sent out 700 sternly worded letters warning people not to train their AI on Sony music. What the letter says is, innovation must ensure that songwriters and recording artists rights, including copyright, are respected. That, of course, feels like it could be cut and paste from everything that was said about Napster, everything that was said about Spotify.

It's Sony's, and these big music companies, standard line. If you speak to their artists, they might have something else to say about what the approach that Sony actually takes towards innovation, creativity, and art might be. Allegedly, apparently, other disclaimers apply.

But what is interesting, of course, is that music is a bigger industry than publishing. It's nothing like as big an industry as technology, but there is clout in music and high profile and high sales in a way that there isn't quite in publishing. So, it will be interesting to see if Sony can make any inroads, get any concessions out of AI firms, and where that leaves us as authors in our own positionings in that dispute.

Blockchain Mysteries Continue After Legal Ruling

Then finally today, something that didn't make my reporting, but popped up on X, and of course I'm no longer even allowed to call it Twitter, or X formerly known as Twitter, because Twitter is now dead officially, as Elon Musk tweeted a few days ago. Le me find the wording of the tweet he used.

He said, ‘ All our core operations are now on X.'

Not quite as profound as Alice Munro's Nobel Citation, and not even as perfunctory as that. But there we have it. If you log on to X, you'll no longer see that the URL points to Twitter. It's now X everywhere. So yeah, X marks the spot where Twitter died, as it were.

So, one of the stories I came across on X today before I recorded it, was around Bitcoin. You'll remember in the dim distant past when we were talking about blockchain all the time, before we started talking about AI all the time.

A big legal ruling has had a 230-page judgment published this week, and that is the ruling in the case of COPA against Craig White, Dr. Craig White, the guy who claimed he was Satoshi Nakamoto, founder of Bitcoin, who came up with the original Bitcoin white paper. He was actually found to have forged pretty much all the documents that he used to claim to be Satoshi Nakamoto, including various alleged precursors to the famous Bitcoin white paper, which turned out to have been written on Latex. So, written on software that wasn't available before the white paper on Bitcoin was published. So, that's an amateur mistake for someone who reckons to have invented the blockchain. So anyway, we don't yet know who Satoshi Nakamoto is.

We legally know, if we can't be 100 percent sure, that it's not Craig White, who is the only person who's actually come forward and claimed to be him.

So, on that bombshell, on that utter mystery, I will leave you and look forward to speaking to you again next week.

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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