Hundreds of AI-written books available on Dutch webshop Bol.com: Report
Hundreds of books sold on the Dutch webshop Bol.com were written with the aid of AI, according to research by BNR published on Thursday. This trend raises questions about potential copyright infringements and inaccurate content.
For this investigation, BNR used Originality.ai, a detection tool that measures the likelihood of a text being generated with AI assistance. It is important to note that detection software is not always completely accurate and can be easily fooled.
Random paragraphs from each book used for the investigation were examined via this software. In just one day, BNR identified dozens of books that the tool determined with certainty were crafted by AI.
Many of the titles do not disclose that AI was used. While most of the books are in English, some are also in Dutch, BNR noted. It concerns both e-books and physical copies, with prices ranging from a few euros to over 20 euros per book. The oldest AI-written books BNR identified have a publication date of October 2022.
BNR also discovered that authors of AI-generated books frequently sell several books under similar names. Many of these authors seem to operate under pseudonyms, making them untraceable, with contact details often absent.
According to BNR, the primary motive behind this is to make quick money. Most AI-generated books are noticeably low quality, BNR remarked, with grainy cover images, minimal to no illustrations, and large font sizes to fill up pages.
Tech lawyer Menno Weij raised concerns about potential legal risks, such as copyright infringements. "If ChatGPT copies too much of existing books, it could be infringing," he said to BNR. He also remarked that the accuracy of these books remains in question. “Language models can hallucinate,” he said. “If someone does not check this, then you as an author, but also as Bol.com, have a problem,” he added.
In response, Bol.com stated that it has no insight into how many of its titles are AI-generated and has no immediate plans to take measures against this. "We are closely following these developments and examining how we can adjust our vision accordingly," a spokesperson told BNR. The company is currently in discussions with other key players in the book industry, including publishers and the Koninklijke Boekverkopersbond, the trade organization for booksellers in the Netherlands.