US Copyright Office Wants Opinions on Copyright and AI-Generated Works

Say no to AI

The U.S. Copyright Office has opened a public consultancy seeking opinions on how copyright should work with AI-generated material.

The Office wants to look at the pressing issues around generative AI, including how AI models use copyrighted material in their training data, whether AI-generated works can be copyrighted without human involvement, the potential liability for infringing work generated by AI, and how to deal with AI-generated work that imitates the style of a human artist.

Copyrighted Works in Training Data

The Copyright Office wants to know whether copyright owners should be compensated for having their work included in the training data for a generative AI model.

This is perhaps the most pressing issue in generative AI and one that photographers and artists have taken particular issue with.

Every single photographer who has ever posted one of their photos publically online will have had their work taken by an AI company and fed into the algorithm for an AI image generator.

Many AI image generator companies believe the images they have used to be “fair use” but this remains to be seen and the Office wants to hear peoples’ views on whether a “remuneration system might be feasible and effective.”

Can AI-Generated Works be Copyrighted?

The Office fully stands behind human authorship being exclusive to copyright. But, it wants to know “where and how to draw the line between human creation and AI-generated content.”

AI images are created from prompts, so potentially if a human author repeatedly tinkers with the prompts then the resulting work could be viewed as copyrightable.

AI-Generated Liability

AI image generators have the potential to spit out images that are identical to ones already in the training data.

The Office wants to know who is liable for such an infringement; is it the developers of the system? Or, is it the users who typed in the prompt that generated the offending image?

AI-Generated Work Imitating Styles

The Office acknowledges that likeness is generally not protected by copyright law. But, it says that it has heard from artists and performers who are concerned about generative AI system’s ability to mimic their selves, which is effectively their intellectual property (IP). This is an issue in the ongoing actors’ and writers’ strike.

The U.S. Copyright Office is accepting feedback via the website.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.