The US Copyright Office has announced that it will be opening a public comment period on August 30th to address AI and copyright issues. This move comes as the agency seeks to understand how to approach the subject and find solutions to the challenges posed by AI.
In the notice published in the Federal Register, the Copyright Office outlined three main questions it wants to address. The first is how AI models should use copyrighted data during training. This issue raises concerns about how AI systems learn from existing copyrighted materials and potentially reproduce or mimic them in their output. The second question is whether AI-generated material can be copyrighted even if there is no human involvement in its creation. This question touches on the fundamental issue of authorship and ownership when it comes to AI-generated works. Lastly, the Copyright Office wants to explore how copyright liability would work in the context of AI. This involves examining who would be held responsible for any copyright infringement committed by AI systems.
The Copyright Office is also seeking comments on the potential violation of publicity rights by AI. Although this issue is not technically a copyright matter, it may inform discussions on how AI-generated content can imitate voices, likenesses, or art styles, potentially impacting state-mandated rules around publicity and unfair competition laws.
Interested parties and stakeholders have until October 18th to submit their written comments. The Copyright Office will then accept replies until November 15th.
The copyright status of AI training data and the output of generative AI tools has become a contentious topic among politicians, artists, authors, and civil rights groups. This issue has the potential to become a testing ground for future AI regulation. The Copyright Office has noted that in recent years, it has received applications to register works containing AI-generated material. The comments received through this public comment period will inform the Copyright Office’s decision-making process regarding copyright protection for AI-generated works.
This new public comment period follows a lawsuit from last year where the Copyright Office refused to grant Stephen Thaler rights to an image created by an AI platform. The agency’s decision was recently supported by a Washington, DC court, which ruled that copyright has never been granted to any work without human involvement. This case highlights the ongoing legal debates surrounding AI’s involvement in the creation of copyrighted works.
Another significant concern related to AI and copyright is the use of copyrighted material in training AI models. Many large language models that power generative AI tools rely on freely available online information, making it challenging to determine whether copyrighted material is included in their training datasets. This has already resulted in several lawsuits alleging copyright infringement. Artists and authors have sued generative AI art platforms and websites for using their work without permission to train AI models. Similar legal actions have been taken by comedian Sarah Silverman and authors Christopher Golden and Richard Kadrey against AI entities OpenAI and Meta for allegedly using their books to improve their AI models.
Moreover, concerns about the usage of intellectual property in AI models have prompted a number of news organizations to block OpenAI’s web crawler to prevent it from scraping their data. These concerns raise additional questions regarding the boundaries of AI’s access to copyrighted materials for training and the responsibilities of AI developers and users to respect intellectual property rights.
As the development and deployment of AI technologies continue to advance, lawmakers are recognizing the importance of addressing the regulatory challenges they pose. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has called for accelerated rulemaking around AI and has invited various AI stakeholders to participate in discussions on how best to regulate this technology. The public comment period initiated by the Copyright Office is one of the ways in which policymakers and stakeholders can contribute to shaping future AI regulations.