… and quit WhatsApp. (I left Facebook years ago and have never looked back.)
I’d heard bits and pieces last month about Meta / Facebook’s misuse of authors’ books to train AI, but it wasn’t until I came across this article at The Atlantic —“These 183,000 Books Are Fueling the Biggest Fight in Publishing and Tech” — that I got the full picture. And found out one of those AI-training books was my May B.
What’s doubly infuriating and completely wrong is that Meta allegedly used pirated ebooks in this endeavor. So to recap: Meta used authors’ books — without their permission — to train AI. This is copyright infringement. Meta used unauthorized copies of authors’ books to train AI. Infringement upon infringement.
I learned about May B.’s involvement from the Books3 dataset that is searchable by author’s name.
I am grateful my editor and agent are on top of this weird, ever-changing world. I’ve read this incredibly helpful article from the Authors Guild letting authors know what to do if their books were found on the Books3 database. I have joined thousands of other authors who’ve signed this open letter to AI generative leaders to “obtain consent, credit, and fairly compensate” authors whose work they’ve used. With the help of the Authors Guild, I have sent my own letter asking the same.
While I can’t control who reads my books (nor would I want to) or how they get access to them, legally or illegally, I cannot continue on platforms that have used my intellectual property to their advantage / eventual profit without my consent.
I’m not writing this to pressure anyone to do the same, but I am strongly encouraging all readers to consider how you access the books you read. Pirated ebooks hurt authors. (Not sure if a book you have might be pirated? If you downloaded it for free through a website other than a credible online store, you probably have an unauthorized copy.*) The statistics on pirating are shocking (scroll to number 20 to get information on publishing).
Please do right by the people who labor over the books you read and stories you love.
*If you’ve been approved to read and have been sent an eARC (advance reader copy) from a review site like Edelweiss, all is well. These sites (and ebooks) are legitimate.