Writers and publishers must come to terms with the 'digital economy' and adapt accordingly
From whence arose the notion that authors have 'ownership' over their 'works' rather than simple entitlement to be acknowledged?
Somebody writes something and becomes an author. A publisher may arrange distribution of the work, this inscribed upon a physical medium. A bookshop, the second level intermediary taking a 'cut', sells someone a copy. Thereupon, the nature of the trade becomes peculiar. The buyer may believe he has been deceived into paying for rubbish. If he returns to the shop and demands his money back he will be laughed at, but that wouldn't be the case should he return a packet of mouldy rice to a food store.
Taking this further, the buyer may wish recompense from the author for the 'opportunity cost' (of time) he incurred reading the book.
We may presume people start writing because they believe they can produce work of interest to other people (not just to a publishing house). The genuinely creative writer will be driven by the pleasure principle. He may wish to do this as his occupation. If so, he must convince other people to buy his works after, at best, a cursory glance at their contents. Seemingly, being a self-proclaimed creative individual confers a privileged status with attached entitlements.
The proper way round is for an author to persuade other people of his ability to interest them. Thereafter, those appreciative of his writing may arrange finance for further output (patronage). This modality doesn't work well in the context of books presented in analogue form (i.e. on paper). Nevertheless, expectation of people buying the author's/publisher's products without having recourse for all, or some, money back is odd in context of trade in general.
These days, a printed book may be considered an added-value physical product associated with the ideas expressed in the book. Printed books have some convenience and also can be of aesthetic appeal: these fit squarely into supply and demand market economics.
Digital versions are better suited to an explicitly 'patronage mode' of funding: people either donate money upfront in support of further writing, else they download a copy of the work and, if pleased with it, donate what they consider it was worth to them. The brutal fact for authors and publishers to consider is that without the patronage model becoming the norm (after being proselytised by authors and publishers), works presented in digital format shall increasingly enter the 'commons' regardless of authors, publishers, and the ramshackle anachronistic law supporting them.
So-called 'AI', a useful but as yet misnamed technology, shall proliferate rapidly. Rentier copyright holders will find it difficult to identify specific targets to squeeze money from. OpenAI is an innovator of what soon shall be a routine computational tool. Just consider the present failure of copyright cabals to shut down Sci-Hub, LibGen, Z-Library, and many more. Consider the sheer impossibility of identifying those behind 'sharing', and their visitors, when greater use is made of darknets.
In this edition of El Reg is mention of the UK governments' "Online Safety Bill". The Bill is a wedge to open the door to widespread citizen surveillance; it won't open far because encryption is resilient against schemes generated by tiny minds at Westminster. This legislation, if extended, can offer no succour to the likes of the Authors' Guild. It would be better for Guild members to come to terms with the reality of digital technology and to adapt their means of raising income (and their expectations of life-style) accordingly.