Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a crucial tool for organizations in various sectors, particularly in the generation of content and code by generative AI systems such as ChatGPT, GitHub Copilot, AlphaCode, Bard and DALL-E, among other tools. As the promise of incorporating these generative tools in the corporate setting is all but assured in the near term, there are a number of risks that need to be minimized as companies more forward. In particular, as AI applications grow increasingly sophisticated, they raise concerns with several forms of intellectual property (IP), such as patents, copyrights, and trade secrets. This article aims to discuss these issues and provide a sample company policy for using AI-generated content such as software code.
In response to last week’s hearing of the House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on copyright law, former Copyright Office General Counsel, Jon Baumgarten, submitted a letter this week to the Subcommittee expressing his concerns with the testimony of one of the witnesses, Sy Damle of Latham & Watkins, who also formerly served as U.S. Copyright Office General Counsel. The letter was published in full on the Copyright Alliance website.
The Supreme Court ruled today in Andy Warhol Foundation v. Goldsmith, Lynn, et. al. that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit was correct in holding that the Andy Warhol Foundation’s (AWF’s) licensing of an orange silkscreen portrait of the musician Prince, created by Andy Warhol using photographer Lynn Goldsmith’s photo, was not fair. Justices Gorsuch and Jackson authored a concurrence, while Justice Kagan, joined by Chief Justice Roberts, filed a 35-page dissent from Justice Sotomayor’s opinion, calling out the majority’s contradictory interpretation of similar facts in the recent Google v. Oracle case.
Real estate data firm CoStar and real estate digital marketplace CREXi are currently engaged in a high-profile intellectual property fight. Costar, which runs Apartments.com, alleges that CREXi is violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by using its images on Crexi.com without regard to its terms of service. The company has gone so far as to say that “CREXi is attempting to build its own online commercial real estate marketplace and auction platform by free-riding on CoStar’s billions of dollars of investments and the thirty-plus years of hard work by CoStar’s employees.” CrEXi, on the other hand, argues that all the images on the site are uploaded at brokers’ (not CrEXi’s) direction and thus the company can’t be held liable for IP violations.
The House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet today held the first of several planned hearings about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on intellectual property, focusing in this initial hearing on copyright law. The witnesses included three artists, a professor, and an attorney with varying perspectives on the matter, although the artists all expressed similar concerns about the potentially dire effects of generative AI (GAI) applications on their respective industries and careers.
On May 3, the U.S. Copyright Office published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register amending final rules promulgated for infringement proceedings conducted by the Copyright Claims Board (CCB). The proposed rule changes would impact how respondents in CCB actions can assert counterclaims arising out of previous contractual agreements between parties to the action, as well as document production requests related to those counterclaims.
Journalist Bob Woodward interviewed President Trump on numerous occasions during his 2019 and 2020 presidency. Trump granted consent to be recorded for Woodward’s upcoming book. Woodward later released segments of these recordings, along with one recording made with Trump during his presidential campaign in 2016, as part of an audiobook, The Trump Tapes. Trump claims that Woodward did not have his permission to release these audiotapes as a separate audiobook and sued Woodard and his publisher for, among other claims, copyright infringement.
On April 27, a pair of legal measures were advanced within the European Union that promise to greatly impact the state of technological commercialization within Europe for both standardized and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. While political leaders in the EU maintain that either proposal addresses consumer safety and competition concerns, multiple commentators have pointed out issues that could slow the rate of technological commercialization to the detriment of Europeans across the continent.
The United States Trade Representative (USTR) released its annual Special 301 Report on April 26, adding two countries to the “Watch List”: Bulgaria and Belarus. In total, there are now 29 countries on either the Priority Watch List or Watch List, up from 27 last year. Belarus was added because it passed a law that “legalized unlicensed use of certain copyrighted works if the right holder is from a foreign state ‘committing unfriendly actions.’” This includes the U.S. sanctions imposed on Belarus for its support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “
Last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a ruling in a copyright dispute between Erickson Productions and Kraig Kast, ultimately reversing and remanding the case back to the district court for a jury trial. The appeals court ruled that the district court erred by not conducting a jury trial after a first appeal by Kast. The case began when Jim Erickson of Erickson Productions accused Kast of the unauthorized use of three copyrighted photos on his developmental website. The case was heard before a jury in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, which awarded Erickson $450,000 in damages after finding that Kast willfully infringed on the copyright.
Current artificial intelligence (AI) systems can generate an astonishing variety of content, including text-based works, audio, video, images, programming code, product designs, technical papers, etc. In many cases, the output from an AI system is virtually indistinguishable from that of a human. This trend is expected to continue at an ever-increasing rate in the coming years. Since content solely generated by an AI system is not available for protection under existing intellectual property laws, the following are practical guidelines for human creators who wish to protect content that was created with the assistance of an AI system.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) on Thursday issued a precedential decision holding that SAS Institute , Inc. failed to establish copyrightability of its asserted software program elements. Judge Newman dissented, arguing the ruling “contravenes the Copyright Act and departs from the long-established precedent and practice of copyrightability of computer programs” and that it represents a “far-reaching change.”
The U.S. Copyright Office (USCO) has announced a new statement of policy on “Works Containing Material Generated by Artificial Intelligence” that will be published in the Federal Register tomorrow, March 16. The statement comes following several recent cases that have tested the bounds of copyright protection for works generated solely or in part by AI authors. Most recently, the USCO held in a case involving a graphic novel, Zarya of the Dawn, featuring AI-generated images that the copyright registration would be limited to the text of the novel, which was the product of human authorship. The Office there explained that the “the text of the graphic novel ‘as well as the selection, coordination, and arrangement of the Work’s written and visual elements’ are protectable under copyright law” but that the images themselves were not.
Several carefully watched copyright developments are combining to have a significant impact on the invention as well as the content landscape. A judgment from the Supreme Court of the United States is expected any day that will address the potentially shape-shifting Warhol Foundation “fair-use” suit against rock photographer, Lynn Goldsmith. This decision is also of concern to inventors and patent holders, few of whom see the writing on the IP wall: weaker intellectual property rights are gaining momentum, and lawmakers and the public don’t know enough to care.
Companies rely on copyright protections to shield their software, data sets, and other works that are licensed to their customers; however, a reframing of what constitutes a “transformative use,” and the extent a license can restrict such fair uses, may whittle away all avenues of protections. On October 22, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States heard arguments for Andy Warhol Foundation v. Goldsmith. The question before the Court is where does a copyright holder’s right to create derivative works stop and “fair use” of the work begin? Companies that license data sets or data feeds should pay close attention, as the Court’s decision could narrow contractual remedies.