EU Proposes AI Copyright Laws

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Artificial intelligence has been one of modern-day society’s more unique and pressing problems. This groundbreaking technology has pushed many sectors to question their relevance and could have serious implications for the future of the workforce. The world of intellectual property is not safe from such existential worries. The latest AI technologies could duplicate the voice of singers in a near-flawless fashion and create art and even wildly convincing clips. This reality has urged IP practitioners to prepare themselves for a future of copyright with the existence of AI.


The bulk of the problems society has in dealing with AI lies in its strange nature and the lack of regulations that could adequately tackle the issue. The lack of competent regulations for AI has forced practitioners to confront AI awkwardly with insufficient existing laws. However, the European Union (EU) has recently proposed regulations that could resolve these issues.


For the past two years, this proposed regulation has been in a drafting process by European Commission. According to European Parliament, deputy Svenja Hahn, the basic objective of it is to maintain and avoid the potential risks that could be brought upon by AI technology while also regulating in a way that balances protecting citizens’ rights, innovation, and developing the economy. This law looks to classify AI tools based on the different levels of risk they pose, ranging from minimal to limited, high, and unacceptable. The metrics that decide the levels include biometric surveillance, misinformation, and discriminatory language.


As for stipulations regarding Intellectual Property, the regulation initially looked to completely ban the use of copyrighted material by generative AI models. However, a transparency mandate was proposed instead. A recent addition to the proposal will require companies that utilize AI to disclose any copyrighted material used by their AI tool.


This stipulation is directly tied to problems surrounding generative AI. AI tools that could create their content are known to use copyrighted works as a basis to generate their creations. This has caused certain issues within industries closely tied to copyrighted works.

For example, earlier this year, Getty Images was involved in a dispute with AI company Stable Diffusion over generative AI, insisting that most of the images used are copyrighted and Stable Diffusion doesn’t have the authorization to process them and use it for commercial purposes. In a statement by Getty Images, they maintain that their company is well aware of AI’s method of generating images, in which they prepared training programs for AIs to “respect IP rights.” However, Stability AI did not partake in the program or seek to license. This is just one of the many examples of clashes involving AI and copyright, signalling the urgency of this proposed regulation.


The proposed regulation is currently undergoing discussions in the trialogue stage, where EU lawmakers and member states will finalize the bill’s details. Should the law come into effect, it would likely be very detrimental to the relationship between AI and modern society, as it sets a crucial first precedent for how the law should tackle this amazing technology.

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