The Authors Guild went to Washington, D.C., last week to lobby lawmakers to build legal guardrails against generative artificial intelligence programs and to educate members of Congress of the potential harms posed by such programs on literary and other creative industries.

Joining the Guild were representatives of various creative fields, including the Society of Composers & Lyricists, the Graphic Artist Guild, Concept Arts Association, Professional Photographers of America, Artists Rights Society, and American Society for Collective Rights Licensing.

According to the Guild, the organizations represent hundreds of thousands of creators and artists whose livelihoods will be negatively impacted by a proliferation of AI technologies. In a statement highlighting the Guild's trip to D.C., Guild CEO Mary Rasenberger said the "future of journalism, literature, and the arts depends on policies that adequately incentivize human creators to continue working.”

She stressed, “This really is an existential issue for human arts. We were very clear in our discussions with lawmakers that we support the ongoing development of AI, including generative AI. But we also wanted to educate them on how severely human creators and artists would be impacted if Congress does not act with speed to pass legislative safeguards for human writers and artists."

Throughout the week, the Guild and creator group representatives met with the offices of 15 legislators, which included high-ranking members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees (which oversee copyright), the Congressional Artificial Intelligence Caucus, and the Creative Rights Caucus. A meeting was also held with the Copyright Office to discusses how the office is active working on issues of AI and copyright.

The Guild is lobbying for compensation and credit for authors, creators, and copyright owners whose works are used to train AI machines. According to the Guild, proposed legislative changes include enabling collective licensing for AI training and amending section 1202 of the Copyright Act to make stripping metadata and other identifying information from a work illegal, whether or not it’s done to induce or facilitate infringement.

The Guild, which has more than 13,000 members, also advised on various collective licensing models that would entitle authors to earn licensing income if their works are used to train generative AI. "We detailed the potential problems and presented a few ideas for legislation. But mainly we asked for help bringing all the stakeholders to the table,” said Rasenberger. “We are heartened by the positive response to our concerns and proposed solutions.”

She added, “Until now, most of the conversations on the Hill concerning AI have been in the context of national security and international competition. Our visit was the first opportunity many Congressional staff have had to discuss generative AI, and those we spoke to appreciated being brought up to speed on the issues. Most seemed quite empathetic and indicated that they wanted to help and work with us on protections for the creative industries.”