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US Copyright Office Wants Feedback on AI and Copyright

The federal agency seeks public comment on generative AI in terms of copyright and possible regulations or legislation to keep things in check.

The US Copyright Office posted a “notice of inquiry and request for comments” to the Federal Register last week, asking for the public’s opinion on copyright law and policy issues related to artificial intelligence systems, specifically generative AI. They are accepting written comments through Wednesday, October 18 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time and written reply comments by Wednesday, November 15 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern. Written comments should be submitted via Regulations.gov.

The Office wants public input as it assesses the potential need for legislation or regulations related to generative AI and its use.

“The Office seeks comment on these issues, including those involved in the use of copyrighted works to train AI models, the appropriate levels of transparency and disclosure with respect to the use of copyrighted works, and the legal status of AI-generated outputs,” the Office says in their 24-page request.

The US Copyright Office acknowledges the growing media attention and concern that AI has drawn over the last year, specifically generative AI. When AI is used to produce text, images, video or audio, it is creating content that would be copyrightable if produced by a human. The Office said, over the last several years, they have received applications to register content that contains AI-generated material. Sometimes the AI system is listed as the author or a co-author of the work.

“As concerns and uncertainties mount, Congress and the Copyright Office have been contacted by many stakeholders with diverse views. The Office has publicly announced a broad initiative earlier this year to explore these issues. This Notice is part of that initiative and builds on the Office’s research, expertise, and prior work, as well as information that stakeholders have provided to the Office,” the US Copyright Office says.

Meanwhile, copyright owners have made copyright infringement claims against AI companies for using their work, or derivatives of it, to train their AI models. For example, comedian and author Sarah Silverman and authors Christopher Golden and Richard Kadrey filed class action lawsuits against OpenAI in federal court over claims of copyright infringement, reports The Verge. The authors allege that when ChatGPT is prompted to summarize their work, the generative AI tool summarized their books which violates their copyright. The authors are also suing Meta in a similar case.

LLM Litigation is representing these authors and others in cases related to OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Meta’s LLaMA.

“We’ve filed lawsuits challenging ChatGPT and LLaMA, industrial-strength plagiarists that violate the rights of book authors,” said LLM Litigation on their website. “Because AI needs to be fair and ethical for everyone.”

“As concerns and uncertainties mount, Congress and the Copyright Office have been contacted by many stakeholders with diverse views. The Office has publicly announced a broad initiative earlier this year to explore these issues. This Notice is part of that initiative and builds on the Office’s research, expertise, and prior work, as well as information that stakeholders have provided to the Office,” the US Copyright Office says.

In the Notice, the US Copyright Office says their review and evaluation of copyright in machine learning dates back to 1965. The Office said it is a question of whether a work is one of human authorship or creation or whether something was created all or in part by a machine.

Copyright infringement is a serious violation and could be imposed against content created by generative AI.
Source: Adobe Stock Photo

Copyright © 2023 Authority Media Network, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is prohibited.

The US Copyright Office laid out two cases its Review Board had evaluated last year involving AI-generated work. In one, the Office’s Review Board refused to register the work because it lacked creative input or intervention from a human. In the other, a registration application was a graphic novel with text by a human author and illustrated using AI-based Midjourney. The Office said the text and arrangement of text and images was copyrightable, but the AI-generated images were not.

Last week, the US Copyright Review Board reviewed Jason M. Allen’s second request for reconsideration of an award-winning two-dimensional piece of art. The piece was created using Midjourney. Though Allen further manipulated the image, it wasn’t enough for the Review Board to change their ruling. As submitted, the artwork cannot be copyrighted.

Gannett pauses AI-generated sports reporting

In related news, Gannett put a pause on its AI experiment of sports coverage using AI service LedeAI, reports CNN. Several Gannett newspapers reported on high school sports, using very similar language and omitting key details that a human sports writer is unlikely to miss. A Gannett spokesperson confirmed the pause and said they are experimenting with automation and AI for their reporters and readers, Axios says.

“We are continually evaluating vendors as we refine processes to ensure all the news and information we provide meets the highest journalistic standards,” the Gannett spokesperson said.

Insider Take

The concept of generative AI is a double-edged sword. It has great possibilities in terms of creating content quickly, generating alternate headlines and keywords, and developing unique artwork, images and audio. Copyright is just one issue related to AI that needs to be addressed. In the case of Jason Allen, the US Copyright Office isn’t saying his artwork is bad or can’t be used. They are just saying he can’t copyright it. The far bigger issue is when generative AI takes human-created content that it doesn’t own the copyright to in training models. Transparency and disclosure that AI was used in creating certain works also needs to be considered. This is a complex, multi-layered issue that isn’t going to get resolved anytime soon.

Copyright © 2023 Authority Media Network, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is prohibited.

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