Trip Adler bucked the startup odds in 2007 when he cofounded Scribd, one of the few successful digital subscription services built around books and other print and audio content. Now Adler, who left Scribd last year, is banking that the contacts he made in both the technology and publishing industries at Scribd will help make a success of his newest venture, Created by Humans (CBH). An AI rights licensing platform, the goal of CBH is to serve as a bridge between creators and AI and tech companies interested in licensing rights to use in training their large language models and other projects.

The company has received $5 million in funding led by David Sacks at Craft Ventures and Mike Maples at Floodgate, with Walter Isaacson joining as an investor, advisor, and founding author. In an interview with PW, Adler acknowledged that there are a number of complex issues to be worked through to get the creative community and tech companies comfortable about using CBH as a licensing intermediator. “It won’t be easy,” Adler said about bringing the two sides together, but he insisted it can be done. Adler told PW that he has talked to “lots of people” in both publishing and technology and said he found tech companies are willing to legally license material if there is a simple process to do so.

The benefit for authors, publishers, and other rights holders who opt in to CBH is that they will have a new revenue stream and distribution source, Adler argued, while tech companies who take part "will be able to move faster and have more accurate models with legally sound, curated, and up-to-date data from multiple sources."

As part of the program, CBH has developed what it terms the "Fourth Law," a set of guiding principles for how AI companies can use and train on human-created content, which CBH hope creators and AI companies with agree to. Inspired by Isaac Asimov’s three laws of robotics, the Fourth Law states that humans have the right to consent and control how their work is used by AI, and that they should receive both credit and compensation for their work. It also states that AI should continuously learn from human-created works.

Legal challenges to using AI are already making their way through the courts, with resolution years away. In the interim, the objective of CBH is "to provide guidance to both human creators and AI companies now, and the Fourth Law is our best effort at starting to rebuild the relationship between the two groups," Adler said.

To facilitate an understanding between the parties, the CBH founders—who also include former Scribd executive Jen Singerman and Edward Igushev, an engineer who has worked with Google and Glean—have created what essentially amounts to an AI bill of rights. This is divided into three proprietary areas: training, reference, and transformative. Within each area, AI rights differ between those applicable to the author/creator, publisher/distributor, and book. Acknowledging that AI rights are "incredibly complicated," Adler said that the "CBH platform will bring all of these parties together in a plug-and-play way that makes navigating this world much easier."

If CBH is successful, Adler sees licensing AI rights as potentially applicable to other forms of digital content creation, well beyond e-books and audiobooks. Of course, CBH is not alone in its ambitions, with other established players such as Copyright Clearance Center also working on their own solutions. Moreover, a majority of agents and publishers have already grafted language into their contracts delineating the terms under which their authors work may be used by AI.

Asked how launching CBH compared to starting Scribd 17 years ago, Adler said there is a world of difference that shows how technology has evolved. "At Scribd we started out to share a pdf online," he said. "Today we are talking about how to share books in totally new ways."