The conversation around artificial intelligence (AI) and its implications for publishing and the wider creative industries is very much live. Over the last year, every corner of our industry has been confronted with the colossal innovation in the generative capability of this new technology, with little known as to how it will impact our sector.

Developments around AI have been rapid, and understanding how the sector can strategically navigate this emerging landscape has been a priority for the Publishers Association (PA), our members, and the wider industry.

Publishers have long embraced AI and new technologies, and many are already reaping the benefits of these tools. We know that AI has been applied throughout the value chain by publishers from across every sector, to drive benefits for their organizations—this could be through improved intellectual property (IP) protection, content discoverability, or to provide strategic insights.

Specific products that have been developed to replace routine search and summarization tasks are essentially freeing up authors and researchers to focus on creative tasks. This work shows that when built on high-quality and accurate data sets, with the appropriate licensing and permissions in place, and full transparency around inputs, AI technology can really drive human understanding and creativity, and aid productivity.


With this in mind, it is important to recognize that if used correctly, the future is not bleak for publishing with AI as part of the mix. AI has the potential to bring many benefits to the sector and publishers of all shapes, sizes, and specialisms stand ready to embrace these opportunities. Of course, some big questions do remain unanswered. We, like many of our members and industry counterparts, have serious concerns as to how AI can work fairly for the organizations we represent, and crucially, our authors and content creators.

Authors are the heartbeat of our industry, and we must ensure that AI is used to enhance that human creativity, and that technological advancements and authorship can thrive side-by-side. This will enable a forward-looking and thriving publishing sector. The publishing industry and the wider creative industries are underpinned by the U.K.’s gold-standard IP framework, and we must ensure that this remains the case—even in the face of rapid technological innovation.

Intellectual Property

It is absolutely imperative that AI is developed in adherence with U.K. intellectual property law and that this should be respected when any content is ingested by AI systems. AI firms must follow normal procedures and request licenses and permissions from rights holders for the content they use. If they don’t, it takes away any control creators have over the use of their work and is a wholesale transfer of value without any compensation.

There is huge growth potential for both the creative and technology sectors—but this growth is best achieved as equal partners. Without a regime that supports investment in creative and academic output, AI software will never be able to reach its full potential.

The PA recently sent a letter to the U.K. Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, to relay our concerns around AI and IP and, along with our AI taskforce, we will continue to discuss the implications of AI on our industry, and work to ensure we have a seat at the table when it comes to legislation.

Overall, we must be optimistic about the role of human creativity in society and—looking to the future—that it will bravely stand up to any current and future technological challenge, be that AI or otherwise, harnessing and utilizing it rather than being subsumed. We have a duty as an industry and as a society to set those foundations in place for future generations.

Dan Conway is CEO of the Publishers Association.