News & Updates - February 2023

Check out the Policy Advisory Committee's monthly column, "News & Updates," rounding up news and articles of importance to writers.


Ongoing A.I. News

Findaway Voices Halted from Using Audiobooks to Program A.I.

Findaway entered into a contract with Apple to use/download audiobooks to license audiobook files to Apple for A.I. learning (Writer Beware Report) without authors’ permission.

The performers union met with Findaway and told the company that “performers’ voices may not be used beyond the distribution of the audiobook(s) they consent to narrate” and that “attempting to acquire permission from performers or in this case the author/publisher for machine learning, or digital simulation, is unenforceable until bargained directly with SAG-AFTRA.”

“Findaway and Apple immediately agreed to halt any/all use of files for machine learning purposes,” SAG-AFTRA national director, audiobooks Jane Love wrote to members. “This ‘halt’ covers all files dating back to the beginning of this practice.”

Microsoft, GitHub and OpenAI - Lawsuits/Class Action Lawsuits Increasing

Microsoft, GitHub and OpenAI are currently being sued in a class action motion that accuses them of violating copyright law by allowing Copilot, a code-generating AI system trained on billions of lines of public code, to regurgitate licensed code snippets without providing credit.

Two companies behind popular AI art tools, Midjourney and Stability AI, are in the crosshairs of a legal case that alleges they infringed on the rights of millions of artists by training their tools on web-scraped images.

And just last week, stock image supplier Getty Images took Stability AI to court for reportedly using millions of images from its site without permission to train Stable Diffusion, an art-generating AI.

Fraud / Plagiarism / Piracy


Here is the current issue with Kindle/KDP: Books sold on Kindle are not always sold on Apple. Thieves know this. So, what thieves are doing is presenting books to Apple as if they own them, then sell them, and pocket the royalties/earnings.

Authors Guild is asking Amazon and Apple to coordinate efforts to put an end to this practice, and punish offenders whenever necessary.


Simon & Schuster Celebrates Record Year

As was clearly in the works but is now official, Simon & Schuster is celebrating an “extraordinary, stratospheric” and record year — “the greatest year in the history of Simon & Schuster” — far exceeding $1 billion in sales for the first time ever and capping a three-year run of record results. Sales were a big $1.177 billion, up 18.5 percent, and operating income hit $248 million, up 16 percent.

Those numbers compare to sales of $993 million in 2021, when operating income was $213 million. In 2020, also a record at the time, sales were $901 million and operating incomes was $136 million.

Disability in Publishing

Disability in Publishing Given Nonprofit Status

As of November 22nd, 2022, Disability in Publishing is a 501c3 organization. Our nonprofit status means, among other things, that we are able to accept donations in order to make a bigger impact in the publishing industry through advocacy and programming! All donations will also be tax deductible.

Mergers & Acquisitions

On Schedule, Paramount Restarts Sales Process for Simon & Schuster

“Sources” confirm to Reuters that Paramount Global has begun shopping Simon & Schuster again through a financial adviser. Liontree advised the company on the sale to Penguin Random House that was blocked by the court. As expected, those sources also suggest the company is focusing on the clear, uncomplicated path to successful sale this time: “Paramount will court private equity firms as potential buyers of Simon & Schuster because they do not compete with it and would not raise competition concerns with U.S. regulators that led to the demise of the Penguin deal last year, the sources added.”
Of course, that does not foreclose potential bids from other publishers, including HarperCollins, Hachette Book Group, Vivendi or others. No one is commenting on the record.

Legal News

Indie Authors Petition Amazon Kindle KDP

Twenty-eight thousand indie authors have signed a petition against Amazon Kindle KDP for indiscriminately banishing title from their Kindle platform. They claim to cut back on piracy practices, but fail to admit the part they play in the illegal practice.

Authors Guild is following up with Amazon on their expelling people for pirated copies.

Author Press Place Settles Lawsuit with Authors Guild

Last month, Authors Guild sued this small press for nonpayment of royalties, provide royalty statements, or revert rights to the authors.

Owner Tony Ferraro agreed to revert book rights to plaintiffs, terminate their agreements so they may publish elsewhere, and provide the authors with all artwork, text, and design files free of charge.

Authors Guild CEO, Mary Rasenberger, said, “This settlement means Authors’ Place can no longer hold authors hostage while cheating them out of payments they’re owed. And it sends a clear message to other publishers that they’ll be held accountable for any attempt to take advantage of authors.”

Publishing Activities

Trade sales fell 6.4% for FY2022.


NewsCorp’s sales fell by 14%.

Harper and Union Reach Tentative Agreement

•    Increases minimum salaries
•    One-time $1,500 lump sum bonus to be paid to bargaining unit employees

If ratified, the contract will extend through FY 2025.

Harper plans to layoff 5% of its workforce by the end of June. Insiders are reporting anxieties over potential layoffs, exhaustion over the increased workload due to the strike, and feelings of being left out because of lack of communication from the top.

Macmillan Raises Starting Salary

They will increase entry-level salaries to $47,500, effective April 1st. Their starting salary was $42,000.

Bill to Limit Library E-Book Lending Fails in VA Senate

A bill failed in the Virginia state senate yesterday that would have prevented publishers from imposing limits on lending electronic material. The Committee on General Laws and Technology voted 15-0 to block the bill.

HBG Raises Base Pay to $47,500

Hachette Book Group raised their entry-level pay from $45,000 to $47,500 for employees in high-cost locations. They added that “all HBG employees are eligible for bonuses which will be awarded as part of the compensation review process.”

The big five publisher with the highest base salary remains S&S, which pays $50,000 (for an expanded 40-hour work week).


Imprints: Tor Launches Bramble; Skyhorse Launches Peakpoint Press

Tor Publishing Group announced that it is launching Bramble, a new imprint “dedicated to a wide array of romantic stories for the modern reader.”
Pillai said, “Tor Publishing Group is the gold standard of genre publishing and it’s the perfect time to have an imprint dedicated to romance. Bramble will be the destination for exceptional love stories of all kinds. Expanding into romance gives our team and our readers another chance to do what we do best: get obsessed!”

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