Author Discovers AI Fakes Selling Under Her Name

Jane Friedman says Amazon removed them, but only after a public fight
By Steve Huff,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 13, 2023 4:00 PM CDT
Author Discovers AI Fakes Selling Under Her Name
   (Getty Images / Mikhail Rudenko)

The dawn of easy self-publishing has been great for select independent authors, but colliding with the explosion of AI-aided (and AI-created) writing has resulted in a new set of problems—like the one encountered by author Jane Friedman, when she learned there were several books on Amazon under her name that she didn't write. Turns out they were AI-generated, and someone—a "huckster," Friedman wrote—simply appropriated a known author's name as a way to turn a quick profit. Gizmodo reports that Amazon, after initially refusing Friedman's request, has taken the fakes offline, but Friedman is still concerned.

"If you simply have a name that people can profit from and they decide to publish some garbage and put your name on it, there are no guardrails," she tells the outlet, adding that Amazon acted only after the "public outcry" that resulted when she went public with the problem. In her newsletter, Friedman said she'd rather her actual books were "pirated" than have her name pasted on "garbage books." In fact, the fakes using her byline were added to her official Goodreads profile. Another author told her via social media that "she had to report 29 illegitimate books in just the last week alone. 29!"

The problem is even broader than AI fakes under established authors' names. The New York Times details how scammers are clouding the travel and guidebook selections with AI-authored fakes. And Vice reported a month ago on how, in the words of one indie writer, "AI bots have broken Amazon," with best-seller lists filling up with what is clearly "AI-generated nonsense." Amazon is still figuring out how to address the issue, but even if it does protect the work of human authors from AI fakery, Insider reports the company will still need to address the tide of AI-generated reviews cluttering the site. (More Amazon stories.)

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