The artistic community is advocating for changes to US copyright laws regarding artificial intelligence, but the technology industry is opposing them.
Artists in the fields of country music, romance literature, video games, and voice acting are urgently seeking assistance from the U.S. government to mitigate the potential impact of artificial intelligence on their careers.
A podcaster expressed fear about AI replicating his voice in one of the many letters sent to the U.S. Copyright Office, urging for regulation of AI.
In contrast, technology companies are generally satisfied with the current state of affairs which has allowed them to acquire published material in order to improve their AI systems’ ability to imitate human actions.
The leading copyright authority of the country has not yet made a decision. In an interview with The Associated Press, she stated that she is open to hearing all perspectives as her office considers potential changes to copyright laws in light of advancements in generative AI technology that can create engaging images, music, videos, and written passages.
In an interview, Shira Perlmutter, the U.S. register of copyrights, confirmed that they have received nearly 10,000 comments. These comments are all being read by actual people, not machines. Perlmutter also mentioned that she personally is reading a significant portion of them.
What’s at stake?
Perlmutter directs the U.S. Copyright Office, which registered more than 480,000 copyrights last year covering millions of individual works but is increasingly being asked to register works that are AI-generated. So far, copyright claims for fully machine-generated content have been soundly rejected because copyright laws are designed to protect works of human authorship.
Perlmutter inquires if there is a threshold where human manipulation of AI input and instructions can be considered a form of authorship in shaping the output’s expressive elements.
The Copyright Office has posed that as one question to the general public.
A major dilemma that has sparked countless responses from individuals in the creative industry is how to handle the use of copyrighted human creations in the training of AI systems, which frequently occurs without authorization or renumeration.
Over 9,700 comments were submitted to the Copyright Office, which is under the Library of Congress, before the first comment period ended in late October. A second round of comments is required by December 6. Following this, Perlmutter’s team will provide guidance on potential reforms to Congress and other parties.
What are the thoughts of artists?
Addressing the “Ladies and Gentlemen of the US Copyright Office,” the Family Ties actor and filmmaker Justine Bateman said she was disturbed that AI models were “ingesting 100 years of film” and TV in a way that could destroy the structure of the film business and replace large portions of its labor pipeline.
Bateman wrote that it seems to many people to be the biggest case of copyright infringement in the United States’ history. They sincerely hope that this act of stealing can be put to an end.
Expressing similar worries about AI that sparked the recent Hollywood strikes, Lilla Zuckerman, a showrunner for the TV series Poker Face, urged the industry to take a stand against what she considers to be a “plagiarism machine.” She warned of the possibility of Hollywood being taken over by selfish and unscrupulous companies who aim to remove human talent from entertainment.
According to Nashville’s country songwriter Marc Beeson, who has written songs for Carrie Underwood and Garth Brooks, the music industry is facing a threat from AI. Beeson believes that while AI has the potential to be beneficial, it could also be dangerous if used improperly without proper regulations in place. He compares it to a gun that could cause irreversible harm to one of the few remaining authentic American art forms.
Although the majority of commenters were individuals, their worries were shared by major music companies like Universal Music Group, who described the training of AI as “voracious and inadequately managed.” This sentiment was also expressed by author associations and media outlets like The New York Times and The Associated Press.
Is it considered fair use?
Major technology companies such as Google, Microsoft, and OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT, are informing the Copyright Office that their AI model training falls under the “fair use” principle. This principle permits the limited use of copyrighted materials for purposes such as education, research, or creating something new.
According to a letter from Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, the American AI industry operates on the belief that the Copyright Act allows for the use of copyrighted material to train Generative AI models. The main goal of AI training is to recognize patterns within a wide range of content, not to copy or recreate specific works.
To date, courts have generally ruled in favor of technology companies when determining how copyright laws should apply to artificial intelligence systems. However, a recent ruling by a federal judge in San Francisco dismissed a significant portion of the first major lawsuit against AI image-generating technology, while still allowing some aspects of the case to move forward.
Many technology companies use Google’s victory in defending against legal disputes over its digital book collection as a reference. In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld lower court decisions that dismissed authors’ argument that Google’s scanning and displaying of excerpts from millions of books was a violation of copyright laws.
Former law professor and bestselling romance author Heidi Bond, who publishes under the pseudonym Courtney Milan, disagreed with the comparison, stating that it is flawed. While she acknowledges that “fair use includes the right to gain knowledge from books,” she pointed out that Google Books legally obtained copies from libraries and institutions, while some AI developers are resorting to “outright piracy” by scraping written works.
According to Perlmutter, the Copyright Office is attempting to assist in organizing this.
Perlmutter stated that there are certainly some differences between this situation and the Google one. The issue at hand is whether these differences are significant enough to disregard the fair use defense.