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    Experts Debate Copyright’s Relevance in the Age of Generative AI

    On June 21 and 22, 2024, Digital Futures Lab, a research network that looks at technology and society, called experts from various fields to talk about the impact of generative Artificial Intelligence (Gen AI) on the future of the labour force. Discussions included Gen AI’s long-term effects, not just on organized and unorganized workers but also on content creators like writers and musicians who are struggling to navigate the confusion around the intersection of generative AI and copyright.

    Do we still need copyright?

    During the course of the discussion, one speaker raised a question as to whether copyright is required at all in today’s time. He pointed out that previously copyright existed because the content was difficult to make.

    “In today’s age, many people have access to the basic tools to create content, especially with generative content. So, what’s the point of copyright? In case of companies there are still IP protections,” said the speaker.

    Copyright holds entities responsible for creative works

    Copyright is still important when it comes to liability. In February, Pravin Anand, Managing Partner at Anand and Anand, had spoken at FICCI Frames 2024 about how in copyright law, identifying the creator of a work is important not just because of authorship, but also because it helps with the transfer of rights or resolution of liabilities.

    “A machine cannot transfer rights or be held liable. This issue [Gen AI and copyright] should be considered with this in mind,” Anand had said at the time.

    Similarly, a speaker at the discussion pointed out that in cases of content like research papers, authors are the liable entities if someone acts on their advisory, not the publisher. Therefore, despite the progress in technology, there is still very much a need for copyright.

    It may be mentioned here that an important intention of copyright law is to encourage creators, like authors, composers, artists to create original works by giving them an exclusive right for it. However, as claimed by another speaker, India is the only market where a person still pays for creative services.

    Should those commissioning AI-content get copyright?

    The discussions led to some interesting revelations, such as the treatment of ownership when it came to generated-content. Readers may remember that Anand had talked at length about how as per Indian copyright law, the author of a computer-generated work is the person who caused the work to be created.

    However, contrary to this, participants during the discussion said that lawyers nowadays argue that if everything becomes copyright-free, the copyright goes to the person commissioning the piece. The argument here being that it is the commissioning person who specifies the concept and overall idea of the creative and thus owns the copyright to it.

    Three takeaways when it comes to copyright and generative AI

    One participant said there are three takeaways to remember when it comes to copyright in India.

    1. Indian copyright law currently does not protect against copyright infringement from Gen AI outside the country. For example, some countries like Japan already allow for Gen AI models to train on copyrighted material. So, if Japan decides to use India’s copyrighted content there’s no provision in India law to stop the Gen AI models from using the content across borders.
    2. A flipside of the previous statement is that even if India does ban the use of copyrighted content for training generative AI, companies can simply go abroad to use the same content.
    3. Another issue is that machine-generated content is not copyrightable. For example, in the Scarlett Johansson case, the actress may have raised a complaint about the similarity between her voice and the AI-voice created by OpenAI. However, no party could claim copyright to the generated voice.

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    The post Experts Debate Copyright’s Relevance in the Age of Generative AI appeared first on MEDIANAMA.

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