Generative AI and Copyright Policy From the Creator-User’s Perspective


Publish Date:
April 19, 2023
Tech Policy Press
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As scholars Mark Lemley and Bryan Casey persuasively argue in their paper Fair Learning, we should generally permit generative AI tools that in effect learn from past works in ways that facilitate creation of new, distinct ones. While some claim that generative AI systems are simply engines for ‘collage’ or ‘plagiarism,’ copying previous expressions into new works, this isn’t an accurate description of how most tools work. Instead, generative AI extracts information that then is used to inform generation of new material; for instance, by looking at many pictures of dogs, it can extract information about what dogs look like, and can then help a user draw dogs, or by looking at many pieces of art labeled as Surrealist, it can help a user create new works in the style of Surrealism. In effect, these are tools that aid new creators in their learning and building on past works.

That doesn’t mean all generative AI tools should necessarily be permissible in every circumstance. Lemley and Casey, as well as legal scholar Mehtab Khan and AI researcher Alex Hanna in their more critical take on these tools, note a tougher call would be a system trained on a particular singer’s work in order to specifically generate songs like hers.

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