Prosecraft AI takes down site after being accused of using authors’ works

Prosecraft AI takes down site after being accused of using authors’ works

by Suswati Basu
Prosecraft website shows several important books showcased website shows a number of significant works

Prosecraft, a company that provides AI-powered writing tools, has taken down its site, after the owner came under fire for allegedly stealing copyright from authors, with prominent writers claiming the company was gaslighting people in the industry.

Read: Does AI mean the end of literature? – NationalWorld

Among the noted authors include British novelist Hari Kunzru, known for his cult novel White Tears, as well as Little Fires Everywhere author Celeste Ng. Kunzru said he had not consented to his work being allegedly used, while Ng said she would never have agreed to training an AI model with her book. In response to a statement on their blog post saying “We’re calling on the literary world to help us expand our catalogue”, Kunzru said it was tantamount to “gaslighting”.

However, later in the day, founder Benji Smith apologised and said the website had been removed.

In a blog post, Smith said he started the website over ten years ago to provide linguistic analysis tools for writers by analysing more than 25,000 books from diverse authors. The website included sentiment analysis, word count statistics, and other linguistic measurements to help writers improve their writing.

“In the future, I would love to rebuild this library with the consent of authors and publishers. I truly believe these tools are useful for creative people. But now is not the right time. I understand. And I’m sorry.”

Benji Smith, Prosecraft co-founder

However, in response to concerns raised by the author community and in light of AI’s potential misuse in creating impersonations, Smith said he had decided to take down the website and apologised for any unintended harm caused. He claimed the website never generated any income, and hopes to rebuild it in the future with the consent of authors and publishers when the time is right.

Who are Prosecraft?

Prosecraft is a company that apparently provides AI-powered writing tools. The company’s tools is supposed to help authors improve their writing style, grammar, and vocabulary. It says it also offers a library of literary works that authors can use to compare their own writing to the work of other authors. The company was founded in 2017 by Benji Smith. The company is based in San Francisco, California.

In 2017, Smith wrote in a blog that Prosecraft is a linguistic database of literary prose and a measurement tool for professional writers. They analyse a vast library of fiction, consisting of over 270 million words of prose written by more than a thousand different authors. The platform offers various linguistic metrics to help authors understand their writing, such as vividness, passive voice, adverb usage, and emotional story arc. By comparing their writing with the works of authors they admire, writers can also make more mindful decisions about their prose’s craftsmanship. Prosecraft was developed by the creators of Shaxpir, a professional writing platform.

How have authors responded?

Even though the company had been running for some time, the increasing fear of AI copying entire works has made this situation come to the fore. Author Diana Urban raised the alarm, after she noticed her own works were reportedly being used, prompting many others to notice the same.

If Prosecraft was found liable for copyright infringement, then it could have faced significant financial penalties. The company could also have been ordered to stop using its tools to generate content that is based on copyrighted material. There is still concern for some that the company will keep any data for future purposes.

Read: AI open letter: authors including Margaret Atwood urge companies to honour copyright

Consequently, the allegations against Prosecraft highlight the potential risks of using AI-powered writing tools. While these tools can be a valuable resource for authors, they also have the potential to be used to steal copyright. Authors who use AI-powered writing tools should be aware of the risks and take steps to protect their copyrights.

How To Be Books have reached out to Benji Smith and Shaxpir for a comment and are awaiting a response. This article has been updated.

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