AI v copyright: US government body asks public for opinion

31 Aug 2023

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The US Copyright Office wants to hear what the public thinks of generative AI and copyright. Meanwhile, OpenAI has responded to authors’ lawsuits.

Amid an ongoing war between the advancement of AI and the protection of copyright, the top US government copyright registration body is now asking the public for its opinions on the matter.

Announced yesterday (30 August), the US Copyright Office has opened a public consultation on “the copyright issues raised by recent advances in generative AI” as it endeavours to study the policy issues it raises and assess whether legislative or regulatory steps are warranted.

Public comments are welcome on the office’s website until 18 October while reply comments are due by 15 November.

According to a statement by the US Copyright Office, it will use the comments to advise the US Congress and inform its regulatory work. It will also offer information and resources to the public, courts and other government entities based on these issues.

“We launched this initiative at the beginning of the year to focus on the increasingly complex issues raised by generative AI,” said Shira Perlmutter, register of copyrights and director of the US Copyright Office.

“This NOI [notice of inquiry] and the public comments we will receive represent a critical next step. We look forward to continuing to examine these issues of vital importance to the evolution of technology and the future of human creativity.”

Meanwhile, OpenAI has responded to a pair of class-action lawsuits against it from several authors with a motion to dismiss their claim that every ChatGPT response is a derivative work.

In the filing shared by Ars Technica, OpenAI claimed the authors “misconceive the scope of copyright, failing to take into account the limitations and exceptions (including fair use) that properly leave room for innovations like the large language models now at the forefront of AI.”

The debate around AI and copyright has been intensifying ever since generative AI tools such as ChatGPT became popular.

Last month, thousands of authors including Margaret Atwood and Jodi Picoult signed a letter calling on the likes of OpenAI, Alphabet and Meta to stop using their work to train AI models without “consent, credit or compensation”.

Earlier this month, a US district court judge ruled that artwork generated by AI cannot be copyrighted, arguing that copyright has never been granted to work that was “absent any guiding human hand” and that human beings are an “essential part of a valid copyright claim”.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic