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Critics of Generative AI Are Worrying About the Wrong IP Issues

Critics of Generative AI Are Worrying About the Wrong IP Issues
March 20, 2023

Critics argue developers of generative AI systems such as ChatGPT and DALL-E have unfairly trained their models on copyrighted works. Those concerns are misguided.

One of the most visible advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) is the development of generative AI—AI systems that can produce novel images, music, or text in response to user prompts. Users are still exploring potential applications of this technology in many fields, but early results are promising. Already people have used generative AI tools to draft news articles, press releases, and social media posts, create high-quality images, video, and music, and even write code. And many more applications in fields such as medicine, entertainment, and education are on the horizon.

However, some critics argue that generative AI poses a serious threat to content creators. For example, some visual artists have launched online protests denouncing AI and calling for online platforms to block AI-generated art.0F1 One of their chief complaints is that when developers train generative AI systems on publicly accessible copyrighted content, they are unfairly exploiting the works of creators. But these critics are wrong. Generative AI systems should not be exempt from complying with intellectual property (IP) laws, but neither should they be held to a higher standard than human creators.

  1. This report refutes five of the most common arguments made about how generative AI is unfair to creators:
  2. Training generative AI systems on copyrighted content is theft.
  3. Generative AI systems should not train on content without the copyright owner’s explicit permission.
  4. Generative AI systems should compensate copyright owners for training on their content.
  5. Generative AI systems should not be allowed to produce content based on the style of an artist without their permission.
  6. Generative AI systems use fragments of copyrighted content in their outputs.

The report also acknowledges that there are legitimate IP rights at stake. Specifically, it identifies five harmful activities:

  1. Infringing on copyrights of AI-generated works
  2. Distributing copyrighted content
  3. Creating forgeries
  4. Creating infringing content
  5. Impersonating individuals

Finally, the report discusses the impact of generative AI on those harmful activities and recommends policymakers address concerns through robust enforcement of existing rights, offering guidance and clarity to those using these tools, new legislation to combat online piracy, and expanding prohibitions on the distribution of nonconsensual intimate images (sometimes referred to as “revenge porn”) to include “deepfakes” (i.e., images and video created using generative AI).

Read the report.

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