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How to Regulate AI and Copyrights: United States Copyright Office Seeks Public Feedback

8/30/2023

Submit Comments by October 18

The United States Copyright Office is seeking feedback to collect information and views relevant to copyright law and policy issues raised by recent advances in generative artificial intelligence (AI). The request—which references standards-setting bodies—is intended to assess what legislative or regulatory steps are needed for content created by AI.

The Office’s notice of inquiry and request can be found in the Federal Register, with comments due by October 18.

Human Authorship vs. Generative AI and Copyright Inquiries

Generative AI describes algorithms that are capable of producing outputs including text, images, video, audio (including emulating a human voice), and even art and poetry: content that would be considered “copyrightable” if created by a human author. The rise of generative AI and breakthroughs in the field have led to questions about issues surrounding copyright claims for materials produced in whole or in part by generative AI.

“The adoption and use of generative AI systems by millions of Americans—and the resulting volume of AI-generated material—have sparked widespread public debate about what these systems may mean for the future of creative industries and raise significant questions for the copyright system,” according to the Office.

The Federal Register notice includes several general high-level questions and inquiries about AI training, including questions of transparency and accountability; generative AI outputs; copyrightability, infringement, and labeling or identification of such outputs; and other issues related to copyright.

In addition to general questions about generative AI, the Office’s request includes specific questions relevant to the standards community, including:

  • What tools exist or are in development to identify AI-generated material, including by standard-setting bodies? How accurate are these tools? What are their limitations?

     

  • Are any revisions to the Copyright Act necessary to clarify the human authorship requirement or to provide additional standards to determine when content including AI-generated material is subject to copyright protection?

The notice builds on other recent efforts in AI. In March 2023, the Office launched a comprehensive AI Initiative, which identified a number of steps that it would take to further explore the copyright policy questions surrounding AI, including hosting public listening sessions and publishing a notice of inquiry. Updates on the initiative, including public input, planned events, and opportunities for public engagement are available on the Office’s website: www.copyright.gov/ai.

Additionally, at the outset of the initiative, the Office published Copyright Registration Guidance, which reiterates the principle that copyright protection in the United States requires human authorship.

Access more information about feedback submissions via the Federal Register.

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