AI at London Book Fair: European Publishers Cheer the AI Act’s Passage

In News by Porter Anderson

The widely applauded AI Act gets its anticipated EU parliament approval during the run of London Book Fair.

At the 2024 London Book Fair, on the first floor of the Grand Hall at Olympia London, the Usborne stand is at the right in yellow. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Porter Anderson

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Levi: AI’s ‘Original Sin Could Not Be Overlooked’
In the three days of the now-concluding London Book Fair, there have been easily more than 10 programs that focused on or included artificial intelligence as an element.

While most of the fair’s programming has drawn strong audience attention, AI might have been the topic that showed more attraction than any other.

And Wednesday’s (March 13) approval by the European Union parliament of the bloc’s “AI Act”—while eclipsed for many LBF attendees in the crowded, noisy confines of Olympia London—hasn’t gone unnoticed by some publishing players here, even as Karen Gilchrist and Ruxandra Iordache wrote for CNBC, “The regulation is expected to enter into force at the end of the legislature in May, after passing final checks and receiving endorsement from the European Council.”

The Federation of European Publishers in Brussels has issued a statement likely to be quickly echoed by many other organizations.

The text reads:

“The Federation of European Publishers welcomes the adoption of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Act by the European Parliament today, with a large majority. The EU now has rules that will be a model for the rest of the world.

“The AI Act recalls basic but fundamental principles that AI companies must respect. They must respect EU copyright law and actively ensure that they do, even if the AI was trained outside of Europe. They will finally have to be transparent on the data used to train their AI, which, to their own admission, relies on the use of copyright protected content.

“This transparency is essential to allow publishers to ensure that their works have not been used illegally for the training of an AI. It will complement existing copyright obligations, that allow rights holders to reserve their rights for text-and-data mining uses of their works and support the development of a licensing eco-system.

“The rapid development of AI relies on the illegal use of copyright-protected works, an absence of remuneration for rightsholders and no transparency. The deployment of generative AI has already destabilized the market, flooding it with AI content, often without informing consumers.

Ricardo Franco Levi

“The European Commission must now ensure rightsholders have their legitimate place in the essential discussions that will take place to prepare the AI Act implementation. AI companies cannot be [left] alone to write official recommendations that will impact our sectors, and the information they must provide on their training data must really help rightsholders and fit our needs.

“Ricardo Franco Levi, the president of FEP who is at the fair this week, says, ‘AI as a technology has great potential, including for our industry, but its original sin could not be overlooked, and the EU has now ensured that it can be corrected.

“‘The abuses of AI companies have been widely documented; it was high time to remind them that technology and innovation must always be made compatible with and fully respect the rights of others.'”

More from Publishing Perspectives on artificial intelligence is here, more on the European Union is here, more on London Book Fair is here, and more on the Federation of European Publishers is here.

More of our coverage of the 2024 London Book Fair:

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.