For author Jane Friedman, finding half a dozen books listed under her name should’ve been a mark of success. But instead, it was a worrisome reminder of the dangers of artificial intelligence.
Friedman found half a dozen books listed on Amazon, attributing her as the author. The faux Friedman books were on her official Goodreads page as well. They weren’t her work, but were books generated by AI.
Worse yet: She has difficulty even getting them taken down.
The incident is just the latest example of the unintended dangers of AI, and how they can be used in different exploitative ways. There’s already discussion about AI’s capacity to generate new work based on data from other humans. But in this case, it’s using Friedman’s reputation to push fake work.
“Some huckster generated them using AI. This promises to be a serious problem for the book publishing world,” Friedman tweet on August 7.
She has been writing and blogging since 2009, and thinks this is a contributing factor to AI snagging her work. Friedman was not immediately available for comment.
As her own work isn’t copyrighted or trademarked to her, Friedman had difficulties convincing Amazon to remove the works at first.
Friedman outlined her ordeal on her blog, saying Amazon did not take down the books when she filed an infringement report. Instead, the company closed her case. She took to Twitter again, saying she was “notified the books would not be removed based on the information I provided. Since I do not own copyright in these AI works and since my name is not trademarked, I’m not sure what can be done.”
Amazon has been flooded with AI content, according to Friedman’s blog. She suggests authors facing AI plagiarism file a report with Amazon and Goodreads. She also recommends contacting The Author’s Guild for additional resources.
After the incident appeared in the media, Amazon finally pulled the books.
“We have clear content guidelines governing which books can be listed for sale and promptly investigate any book when a concern is raised,” said Ashley Vanicek, a spokesperson for Amazon Books. “We welcome author feedback and work directly with authors to address any issues they raise, and where we have made an error, we correct it.”
While the books no longer appear on her Amazon or Goodreads page, they’re still out there.
“Unfortunately, even if and when you get these insane books removed from your official profiles, they will still be floating around out there, with your name, on two major sites that gets millions of visitors, just waiting to be ‘discovered.’ And there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it,” Friedman said.