AI creativity: a conundrum for global copyright laws.

  • Generative AI tools such as DALL-E, MidJourney, and Stable Diffusion are raising questions about copyright laws as they can generate images that may infringe upon intellectual property rights.
  • There’s a need for collective negotiation and international consensus to address the shortcomings of current copyright regulations with regard to AI-generated art.
  • Different countries have different stipulations: the US Copyright Office only grants copyright to works created by humans, while China’s draft rules require respect for intellectual property rights at both commercial and personal levels, and India necessitates a degree of creativity not offered by AI for copyright protection.
  • One potential solution is through copyright collectives or societies, which can negotiate copyright and compensation on behalf of a group of artists.

The age of generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools has sparked debates on copyright and intellectual property rights. The image-creation abilities of AI tools like DALL-E, MidJourney, and Stable Diffusion have accumulated millions of users and have led to criticisms regarding the generation of illegal, nonconsensual images and potential theft of intellectual property, termed as “automated plagiarism”.

The Biden administration and the Group of Seven affirm copyright protection as a requirement for trustworthy AI. However, how this applies to artists whose work is used to train these models remains unclear. This highlights the deficiencies in current copyright regulations, pointing to outdated notions of intellectual property and compensation, along with undue burdens on creators. The solution is suggested to lie in collective negotiation and international consensus.

The US Copyright Office only grants copyright to human-created works. China’s draft rules on generative AI, released in April, require AI services and products to respect intellectual property rights at both a commercial and public level. Indian copyright law necessitates a minimum degree of creativity for copyright protection that AI-generated works might not meet. Japan, too, is grappling with the grey area of “creative contributions” by human authors and AI.

Copyright collectives or societies offer a potential solution, as they can negotiate copyright and compensation on behalf of a group of creators. However, these would need to have international scope in the internet age or be part of a network of collectives.

Another pathway lies in the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, signed by 181 countries, which could serve as a forum for countries to agree on basic protections for artists against companies building generative AI models.

The growing advancement and widespread application of generative AI point to the need for a collective, international resolution to address the challenges they pose to existing copyright laws.