Copyright in the new era: Authorship and Artificial Intelligence – Panel Discussion

Serena Barone AI, Events, IAF

The International Authors Forum (IAF) hosted its first webinar on Artificial Intelligence (AI), as part of its Create a Living series. The discussion focused on the impact of AI on authorship, the threat posed to copyright, and other legal and ethical concerns on this complex and urgent issue.

The webinar was hosted by John Degen, Chari of IAF, and included the panellists:

  • Mary Rasenberger, Vice Chair of IAF and CEO of The Authors Guild (USA),
  • Tom Chatfield, author, Tech Philosopher and No Exec Director, Authors Licensing and Collective Society (UK)
  • Paolo Lenteri, Legal Advisor, Copyright Law Division, World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

Mary Rasenberger drew a distinction between human and AI generated works. Mary highlighted that while AI-generated work is neither original or creative, human-generated work integrates experience and knowledge, which makes it creative and, thus, a piece of art. From this perspective, she emphasised the importance of preventing AI content from taking over human work, since this would not only result in a loss of creative jobs, but also a loss of human culture.

In response to a question about the future of education, Mary emphasised the importance of continuing to train students in the writing process throughout their studies. Mary stated that it will be essential for the education system to establish general use guidelines for AI due to the threat of an inappropriate use in the educational sector.

Tom Chatfield described the development of AI systems as one of the most dangerous artefacts ever developed. He described AI’s outputs as a “hallucination” because of its ability to create extremely plausible no-reality results. Nonetheless, he emphasises the active involvement of humans in AI-generated work, stating that the entire process begins and ends with people because they are the link between the data and reality.

Tom also outlined three concepts to consider when addressing AI: transparency about the material used to train the machines, talent, because it is critical to protect human skills and creativity, and trust in understanding when we are dealing with human or AI created work.

Paolo Lenteri stressed the importance of discussing AI input and output in terms of copyright law. He claimed that it is critical to address the question of the material used to train AI machines because such materials are protected by copyright law (unless specified exceptions apply) and using them for training could result in infringement. Furthermore, it is vital that we start to address the issue of AI-generated works as present agreements indicate that only human work can be subject to copyright.

Paolo also underlined the feeling of urgency that the progress of AI is posing on both stakeholders and policymakers. Even though several nations and international organisations, like the governments of the United Kingdom, China, UNESCO, and the European Union, have already begun discussing the ethical implications of AI, it is essential that the issue be addressed at an international level.

Panellists suggested that addressing the issue as an international law concern would be the most effective strategy, as imposing such laws on a country-by-country basis would be extremely difficult. However, the international law-making process is incredibly slow, and there are currently no proposals on the table, even though the situation is becoming increasingly urgent.

You can watch the full webinar here.