Individuals in the fields of country music, romantic literature, video game design, and voice acting are urgently requesting assistance from the United States government to mitigate the impact of artificial intelligence on their careers. They are seeking prompt action to protect their livelihoods.
A podcaster expressed fear about AI replicating his voice in a letter submitted to the U.S. Copyright Office, joining thousands of others who have requested regulation of AI.
In comparison, technology companies are generally satisfied with the current state of affairs that allows them to acquire published materials in order to enhance their AI systems’ ability to imitate human actions.
The leading copyright official of the country has not made a decision yet. In an interview with The Associated Press, she stated that she is considering all perspectives while her office considers potential copyright changes for the emergence of generative AI technology, which can create captivating images, music, videos, and text passages.
“In an interview, Shira Perlmutter, the U.S. Register of Copyrights, stated that we have received nearly 10,000 comments. Each one is being read by a person, not a computer. I am personally 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 whether humans have enough control and influence over the content they input and the instructions they give to AI systems to be considered authors of the resulting output.
The Copyright Office has asked the public about this issue. There is a larger question that has received numerous comments from those in creative fields – how to handle human works that are protected by copyright and are being used to train AI systems without authorization or payment, often taken from the internet or other sources.
Over 9,700 comments were submitted to the Copyright Office, which is a branch of the Library of Congress, before the first comment period ended in late October. A second round of comments is expected to be submitted by December 6th. Following this, Perlmutter’s team will offer guidance to Congress and other parties regarding potential reforms.
What are artists expressing?
In a statement to the US Copyright Office, Justine Bateman, known for her role in “Family Ties” and as a filmmaker, expressed concern over the use of AI models to consume decades’ worth of film and TV content. She believes this could potentially disrupt the film industry and eliminate many jobs involved in its production.
According to Bateman, this could potentially be the most significant instance of copyright infringement in the United States. He strongly urges for measures to be taken to prevent this act of theft.
Expressing similar worries about artificial intelligence as those that sparked the Hollywood strikes of this year, TV showrunner Lilla Zuckerman (“Poker Face”) stated that her industry must take a stand against what she calls a “plagiarism machine” before it falls victim to the greed and exploitation of companies seeking to remove human talent from entertainment.
According to country songwriter Marc Beeson, based in Nashville, the music industry is at risk due to advancements in AI. Beeson, known for writing songs for artists like Carrie Underwood and Garth Brooks, believes that while AI has potential for positive impact, it can also be dangerous if not properly regulated. He compares it to a gun, which can cause significant harm if misused without proper guidelines in place, and fears for the future of one of America’s authentic art forms.
Although the majority of those leaving comments were individuals, their worries were shared by major music publishing companies, such as Universal Music Group who criticized the way AI is trained as “voracious and lacking proper control.” Additionally, author groups and news organizations, such as The New York Times and The Associated Press, also expressed similar concerns.
Can it be considered fair use?
Major technology corporations, including Google, Microsoft, and the creators of ChatGPT, OpenAI, are arguing to the Copyright Office that their AI model training falls under the “fair use” principle. This principle permits the limited use of copyrighted materials for educational purposes, research, or the creation of new works.
Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, stated that the American AI industry is founded on the belief that using copyrighted material for training Generative AI models is not prohibited by the Copyright Act. The main goal of AI training is to recognize patterns within a wide range of content, not to replicate or copy individual works.
Up until now, courts have mostly supported the perspective of technology companies when it comes to determining how copyright laws should apply to AI systems. In a loss for artists, a judge in San Francisco recently rejected a significant portion of the first major lawsuit against AI image-generators, though some aspects of the case were permitted to move forward.
Many technology companies use Google’s success in defending against legal disputes regarding its digital library as an example. In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld lower court decisions that dismissed authors’ argument that Google’s scanning and display of snippets from millions of books was a violation of copyright laws.
However, former law professor and bestselling romance author Heidi Bond, who goes by the pen name Courtney Milan, believes that this is not an accurate comparison. Bond agrees that “fair use includes the right to gain knowledge from books,” but points out that Google Books obtained lawful copies from libraries and institutions, while some AI developers are obtaining written works through unauthorized means.
According to Perlmutter, the Copyright Office is attempting to assist in resolving this issue.
Perlmutter stated that there are some differences between this situation and Google’s. The question at hand is whether these differences are significant enough to eliminate the possibility of using a fair use defense.