28 July 2023

On 28 June, EIF organised a debate hosted by Dragos Tudorache MEP on Generative AI with a focus on its impact on art and copyright. The MEP was joined by the following guest speakers:

Brigitte Vezina, Director of Policy and Open Culture, Creative Commons
Quentin Deschandelliers, Legal advisor, Federation of European Publishers
Tom Chatfield, an author and tech philosopher
Grégoire Polad, Director General of the Association of Commercial Television and Video on Demand Services in Europe (ACT)
John Phelan, Director General, ICMP

Generative AI, Art & copyright: from creative machines to human-powered tools

Dragos Tudorache MEP, in his opening remarks, stressed the impact of AI on creative industries. Unlike previous technological revolutions, AI challenges the human monopoly on creativity and thought. Mr. Tudorache emphasised the necessity to address whether authors' consent should be required to train AI algorithms. Since an AI algorithm's exposure to existing work is analogous to a human brain's exposure to literature, it is important to understand how to differentiate between infringement and inspiration. He declared that the current AI proposal includes the transparency of copyrighted material, but some argue for explicit consent.

Brigitte Vezina discussed the interplay between copyright and AI. She declared that generative AI training should be allowed without copyright permission, given all creativity builds on the past. AI-generated outputs may warrant copyright protection if they involve sufficient human creative input. Alleged copyright infringements by AI outputs should be assessed case-by-case, balancing the interests of rights holders and users. In the end, Ms. Vezina affirmed that, while copyright is essential, other legal regimes and emerging community practices can address other AI concerns, like privacy and safety.

Quentin Deschandelliers defined the AI Act as a chance to address issues regarding generative AI and copyright, without overhauling current copyright rules. He argued for making the current legal framework functional by establishing a working opt-out system. This would protect copyright works and potentially foster license agreements to train AI systems. Concerns about AI involve both the legality of data used for training and the copyright eligibility of AI-generated outputs. He underlined that cultural and creative sectors should not be sacrificed for innovation, and called for a balance that respects copyright.

Tom Chatfield highlighted the role of human decision-making in shaping the future of technology, specifically AI. He warned of potential futures where AI-generated content could create a culturally undifferentiated landscape. He affirmed that the value of art and creativity cannot be evaluated solely by its outputs, but by its societal impacts. There is the need to understand and regulate AI, ensuring that it is used responsibly and in service of societal values. He also stressed the significance of human influence and creativity in shaping AI and its uses.

Grégoire Polad discussing the impact of AI on the Audio-Visual (AV) sector, emphasised that Europe's cultural industries are key drivers of GDP and employment. The AI Act's values of disclosure and transparency are important for AI-generated content that might deceive audiences, but a balance is needed for obviously fictional or editorial content. Mr. Polad highlighted intellectual property's importance and raised concerns about its protection amid AI advances. He pointed to the U.S. testing the limits of fair use exemption due to generative AI, and stressed the need to continue supporting media pluralism, cultural diversity and value creation.

John Phelan declared that AI has been used in the music industry for years, both for business and consumer services. However, there is a need for clear definitions when discussing AI-generated music, given the varying levels of human involvement. While AI can generate exciting experiences for music fans, issues of copyright infringement are becoming prevalent. As AI companies utilise the work of songwriters and composers, it is critical that they do so with permission and respect existing EU laws. He urged the AI Act to ensure rights holders' permissions, usage records, and transparency.



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