By , April 12, 2024.

How Tech Giants Cut Corners to Harvest Data for A.I. — “The race to lead A.I. has become a desperate hunt for the digital data needed to advance the technology. To obtain that data, tech companies including OpenAI, Google and Meta have cut corners, ignored corporate policies and debated bending the law, according to an examination by The New York Times.”

New bill would force AI companies to reveal use of copyrighted art — “Whether major artificial intelligence companies worth billions have made illegal use of copyrighted works is increasingly the source of litigation and government investigation. Schiff’s bill would not ban AI from training on copyrighted material, but would put a sizable onus on companies to list the massive swath of works that they use to build tools like ChatGPT – data that is usually kept private.”

Dueling OpenAI Copyright Cases to Remain Separate, Parallel Actions on Both Coasts — “The New York-based federal district court overseeing the New York Times v. OpenAI & Microsoft copyright infringement and trademark dilution case recently denied Silverman’s attempt to intervene in the later-filed New York Times case, throwing another wrench in her so far rocky crusade against OpenAI and setting up potentially varied rulings in separate courts over OpenAI’s use of copyrighted works to train LLMs.”

EU copyright law roundup – first trimester of 2024 — At Kluwer Copyright Blog, Alina Trapova and João Pedro Quintais provide an update on Court of Justice and General Court judgments, Advocate Generals’ opinions, and important policy developments from the EU.

Shein has copyright infringement ‘baked into’ its business model: class action lawsuit — “Attorneys allege that to distribute these items ‘at such a fever pitch,’ Shein’s algorithm-based design system outputs designs to Shein’s factories for production ‘with no human intermediary or compliance function taking care that the algorithm’s designs are not the property of others.'”

By , April 05, 2024.

California authors can’t intervene in ChatGPT copyright cases pending in New York — “Authors and journalists — across four pending civil cases that have been consolidated in Manhattan federal court since last fall — accuse OpenAI and Microsoft of infringing copyrights when training their large language models to develop algorithms that allow anyone to generate similar texts they would otherwise pay writers to create.”

OpenAI’s GPT Store Is Triggering Copyright Complaints — “Blichfeldt Andersen is publishing director at Praxis, a Danish textbook purveyor. The company has been embracing AI and created its own custom chatbots. But it is currently engaged in a game of whack-a-mole in the GPT Store, and Blichfeldt Andersen is the man holding the mallet.”

Copyright Claims Board Consolidates Games Workshop Claims — “In the meantime, the CCB has consolidated all the cases between the two parties. This is a first for the CCB in its nearly two years of operation. It also has significant impacts that both watchers of this case and followers of the CCB need to be aware of.”

Fourth Circuit Hands Photographer a Clean Sweep Victory in Copyright Fair Use Appeal Over News Website’s Use of Free of Charge Photo — “As you may know, there are four factors in any copyright fair use analysis. No one factor is considered determinative, and they are not equally weighted. In this case, Philpot swept the board, with the Fourth Circuit finding in his favor on every one of the fair use factors. Here we address the key issues with each of the four factors in turn.”

Google Books Indexes AI Trash — “Google Books is indexing low quality, AI-generated books that will turn up in search results, and could possibly impact Google Ngram viewer, an important tool used by researchers to track language use throughout history.”

By , March 29, 2024.

Looking Forward: The U.S. Copyright Office’s AI Initiative in 2024 — In a blog posted this week, the Copyright Office highlights the next steps in its policy study on copyright and AI. The Office plans to issue its report in several separate sections, with the first section focusing on digital replicas appearing later this spring.

Citing Warhol, 10th Circuit Reverses Tiger King Fair Use Ruling — “Sepi sued Netflix for copyright infringement, contending that the clips were used without his permission. The federal trial court held that Sepi did not own the copyrights in seven of the videos, because they were works for hire (Sepi shot the clips for Joe Exotic TV). Although Sepi owned the copyright in the eighth clip—a video of Exotic’s husband’s funeral—the trial court found that Netflix’s use of that clip was fair use. On appeal, the Tenth Circuit reversed the trial court’s fair use ruling.”

Publishers Secure Widespread Support in Landmark Copyright Battle With Internet Archive — Ernesto Van der Sar of Torrentfreak reports, “Major book publishers continue their legal crusade against Internet Archive’s scan-and-lend library, hoping to shut it down for good. IA’s appeal previously received support from authors and copyright scholars. The publishers, however, have some heavyweight backers too. New amicus briefs are signed by former U.S. politicians, former judges, and legal scholars. Industry groups such as the MPA and RIAA also rally behind the publishers.”

Brands add AI restrictions to agency contracts—behind the growing trend — “Brands don’t want to mistakenly put out work that carries the imprimatur of another brand’s creative, Wrubel said. Brands also don’t want agency partners using AI in ways that could jeopardize their own intellectual property. For instance, if a brand’s customer information were fed into an AI system, that data could train a model that a competitor might use.”

Generative AI could leave users holding the bag for copyright violations — “Researchers and journalists have raised the possibility that through selective prompting strategies, people can end up creating text, images or video that violates copyright law. Typically, generative AI tools output an image, text or video but do not provide any warning about potential infringement. This raises the question of how to ensure that users of generative AI tools do not unknowingly end up infringing copyright protection.”

By , March 22, 2024.

Here’s Proof You Can Train an AI Model Without Slurping Copyrighted Content — “In 2023, OpenAI told the UK parliament that it was ‘impossible’ to train leading AI models without using copyrighted materials. It’s a popular stance in the AI world, where OpenAI and other leading players have used materials slurped up online to train the models powering chatbots and image generators, triggering a wave of lawsuits alleging copyright infringement. Two announcements Wednesday offer evidence that large language models can in fact be trained without the permissionless use of copyrighted materials.”

Machine ‘Unlearning’ Helps Generative AI ‘Forget’ Copyright-Protected and Violent Content — “’When you train these models on such massive data sets, you’re bound to include some data that is undesirable,’ said Radu Marculescu, a professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering’s Chandra Family Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and one of the leaders on the project. ‘Previously, the only way to remove problematic content was to scrap everything, start anew, manually take out all that data and retrain the model. Our approach offers the opportunity to do this without having to retrain the model from scratch.’”

French competition watchdog hits Google with 250 million euro fine — “France’s competition watchdog on Wednesday said it fined Alphabet’s Google 250 million euros ($271.73 million) for breaches linked to EU intellectual property rules in its relationship with media publishers, citing concerns about the company’s AI service. The watchdog said Google’s AI-powered chatbot Bard – since rebranded under the name Gemini – was trained on content from publishers and news agencies, without notifying them.”

7th Annual Intellectual Property Awareness Summit — “CIPU is offering free access to the livestream to the IP Awareness Summit on March 28th. The focus is AI and IP – What does it mean? Can generative AI meaningfully exist without IP rights and a level of governance? How can we assure that AI is net positive for innovation, creative expression and society? 23 speakers, five panels, two featured speakers.”

Warhol Foundation to Pay $21,000 to Settle Landmark ‘Fair Use’ Copyright Case — “The Andy Warhol Foundation and photographer Lynn Goldsmith have settled a closely watched copyright case that reached the US Supreme Court last year. Per a joint court filing Friday in the US District Court in Manhattan, Warhol’s estate agreed to pay more than $21,000, including $11,000 in legal fees, to resolve the years-long dispute. The initial suit was center ed around a Warhol artwork depicting the musician Prince that was based on a photograph by Goldsmith.”

By , March 15, 2024.

This Computer Scientist Seeks a Future Where AI Development Values Copyright — “This fair use view is far from universal. Disagreement with it is the basis for disputes such as the New York Times’ lawsuit against Microsoft and OpenAI, which alleges that the technology companies unlawfully used the newspapers’ stories to make chatbots. The issue also motivated computer scientist Ed Newton-Rex to quit his job at Stability AI last November. He has since launched a nonprofit organization called Fairly Trained, which certifies companies that only train their generative AI models on copyrighted material when they get a license to do so.”

ChatGPT in fight over where copyright claim suits will be handled: San Francisco or New York — “Following the [NY] Times [v. Microsoft] case, more cases were filed in New York and under that court’s rules for related cases, they were referred to the same judge who had the Authors Guild [v. OpenAI] class action case. The New York class actions did not go down well with [Joseph] Saveri. Invoking the so-called ‘First-to-File’ rule that, subject to some exceptions, gives priority in federal litigation to the first filed case, on Feb. 12, 2024, Saveri’s clients sought to intervene in the New York litigation in order to ask the New York judge to suspend or dismiss the New York cases in favor of the first filed San Francisco case.”

Authors push back on the growing number of AI ‘scam’ books on Amazon — “[Authors Guild CEO Mary] Rasenberger says the publishers posting these books benefit from increasingly more sophisticated AI tools that can generate low-quality ‘scam’ books quickly. ‘By the time Amazon finds out about them, they’ve already made some money and they move on to something else,’ she says. But the issue of AI-generated books can harm more than just an author’s sales numbers.”

New York Disbars Infamous Copyright Troll — “For years, Richard Liebowitz ran a very successful operation mostly sending threatening letters to companies claiming that they had infringed upon copyrights held by his photographer clients. Under the best of circumstances it’s a niche practice area that’s… kinda shady. But Liebowitz gained a degree of infamy across a number of matters for high-profile missteps in cases that sparked the ire of federal judges.”

Appeal Court’s ruling on copyright makes sense — “The dilemma of the divorced painter. Should you have to share the value of your copyright with your ex? The New Zealand Court of Appeal says yes, you do.” Interesting discussion about whether copyright is property.

By , March 08, 2024.

Publishers Target LibGen Domains, IPFS Gateways, Plus $30m in Piracy Damages — “Months have passed since the complaint was filed but LibGen’s anonymous operators did not respond. This prompted the textbook publishers to move ahead and request a default judgment in their favor. According to the rightsholders, LibGen distributes at least 20,000 of their copyrighted works without permission. The site is designed to be user-friendly while remaining resilient to enforcement measures. For example, LibGen can easily switch domain names, and relies on censorship-resistant decentralized technologies such as the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), the publishers write.”

Twitter Music Lawsuit: Judge Allows Publishers’ Copyright Case Against X To Move Forward — “The case was organized by the National Music Publishers’ Association, which has long argued that Twitter is the last major social media service that refuses to license music. TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat have all allegedly entered into such deals with publishers, providing a library of licensed music for users to legally add to their posts. The lawsuit claimed that Twitter had, instead, effectively allowed its users to supply such music illegally.”

China court says AI broke copyright law in apparent world first — “An unnamed plaintiff in the suit who held partial copyright to Ultraman, a science fiction character created by Japanese studio Tsuburaya Productions, sued an AI company after its software created images that closely resembled the character, according to the 21st Century Business Herald. The name of the AI company involved was not disclosed. The Guangzhou Internet Court found that the images generated by the AI service were “substantially similar” to the Ultraman character – suggesting that the original had been used to train the AI – and awarded 10,000 yuan (about $1,400) in damages, the paper reported. No information about the case was available on the court’s website.”

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines: Even Bland Works Support Copyright — “Premier and Allegiance both administered car dealers’ loyalty programs. Customers enrolled in these programs were required to meet certain conditions (such as changing the car’s oil at predetermined intervals), and if a part under warranty broke, the dealer would help the car owner initiate a claim through the loyalty program administrator. In conjunction with administering these programs, Premier created a loyalty certificate. The certificate collected the customer’s personal information and provided the program’s terms and conditions. Premier registered its certificate for copyright protection in 2008.”

By , March 01, 2024.

Copyright Damages Case Turns on High Court’s Taste for Discovery — “Justices expressed skepticism about the rule during the argument, and six justices signed onto a 2019 opinion rejecting another discovery rule. That case involved a different law’s statute of limitations that didn’t use the Copyright Act’s phrasing, which starts the countdown to sue upon a claim ‘accruing.’ But if enough justices doubt the rule’s applicability, they could decide the circuit courts are ‘all wrong’ about its existence, said intellectual property attorney Joshua Simmons of Kirkland & Ellis LLP.”

Internet Archive Introduces “Rice Krispies” Defense in Copyright Case — “In a small, semantic gift to counsel for plaintiffs, IA has argued that the preservation of ‘hisses, crackles, and pops’ on the pre-1978 sound recordings favors a finding that their reproduction, distribution, and performance of those recordings is fair use. ‘Defendants’ newly devised Rice Krispies argument for fair use here is even less credible than Internet Archive’s previous fabricated fair-use theory for books that the Southern District of New York recently eviscerated,’ the plaintiffs’ response states.”

IPA, IFRRO, STM, IAF Oppose South Africa’s Copyright Bill — “Four leading world publishing organizations today (February 28) have issued a respectful but adamant appeal to members of the South African National Assembly, requesting that they not adopt the ‘Copyright Amendment Bill’ expected to be put to a vote on Thursday (February 29).”

New report: 60% of OpenAI model’s responses contain plagiarism — “Copyleaks attempts to turn detecting plagiarism from ‘I know it when I see it’ into an exact science. The company uses a proprietary scoring method that aggregates the rate of identical text, minor changes, paraphrased text, and other factors and then assigns content a ‘similarity score.'”

U.S. Copyright Office letter providing updates on AI-related work [PDF] — The Office summarizes its work to date regarding registration guidance and rulings related to works incorporating AI-generated material and notes when we will see the publication of its much anticipated report (or reports, as this letter reveals) on copyright and AI.

By , February 23, 2024.

US Supreme Court may dump Warner Music dispute over copyright damages — “Some of the justices during arguments in the case questioned whether they should decide the monetary damages issue raised in plaintiff Sherman Nealy’s lawsuit against Warner before resolving in separate litigation the proper time limit for filing copyright suits.”

Why The New York Times might win its copyright lawsuit against OpenAI — “These defendants could win in court—but they could lose, too. As we’ll see, AI companies are on shakier legal ground than Google was in its book search case. And the courts don’t always side with technology companies in cases where companies make copies to build their systems. The story of illustrates the kind of legal peril AI companies could face in the coming years.”

Fourth Circuit overturns massive jury verdict in copyright case against internet service provider — Attorney Evan Brown looks at this week’s Fourth Circuit decision in Sony Music Entertainment v. Cox Communications, Inc.

BIRDIE Bill Would Expand Copyright Protections to Golf Courses — “A new bill introduced in Congress would amend federal law to extend copyright protection to golf courses. The bill arrives at a time when golf courses and holes can be replicated with limited legal risk and as golf simulators become more able to replicate the look and feel of the real thing.”

Hong Kong copyright law changes in pipeline to keep pace with artificial intelligence development — “David Wong Fuk-loi, the director of the government’s Intellectual Property Department, mapped out a consultation plan with online service providers on topics involving copyright of AI-generated content, machine-learning answers and models, and the protection of AI content creators, which are not covered by existing laws.”

By , February 16, 2024.

Music publishers fire back at Anthropic in AI copyright lawsuit — From the reply brief (link in article): “in the unlikely event that Anthropic’s guardrails prevent its models from distributing copies of Publishers’ lyrics in the future, the models’ output of ‘new’ lyrics remains unfair. That output is enabled by unauthorized copying, attracts subscription fees and investment, and competes directly with songwriters and publishers whose own lyrics are the raw material for Anthropic’s substitutes. In Anthropic’s preferred future, songwriters will be supplanted by AI models built on the creativity of the authors they displace. Instead of stimulating creativity and ‘promoting broad public availability of literature, music, and the other arts,’ Anthropic’s copying propagates uncopyrightable, synthetic imitations of human expression, subverting the purposes of fair use.”

Congress Should Protect the Rights of American Creators with Site-Blocking Legislation — “Many democratic allies of the U.S., such as Australia, India, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and others, have enacted narrow, targeted ‘site-blocking’ laws. These laws set forth procedures for their courts or agencies to block access to piracy websites for internet users residing within a country’s legal borders. Studies have shown that, when these laws are enacted, user traffic to piracy websites and platforms that have been blocked drops between 80 percent and 90 percent.”

Court Trims Authors’ Copyright Lawsuit Against Open AI — “A federal judge in California this week dismissed four of six claims made by authors in a now consolidated lawsuit alleging that Open AI infringes their copyrights. But the court gave the authors a month to amend their complaint, and the suit’s core claim of direct infringement—which Open AI did not seek to dismiss—remains active.”

3 New Copyright Claims Board Decisions — Jonathan Bailey has been watching the proceedings of the copyright small claims tribunal closely. First launched in June 2022, the Board has begun issuing final determinations in disputes. Bailey takes a look at three recent ones where the Board has weighed in on substantive matters such as fair use.

The MLC Sues Pandora to Recover Unpaid Royalties, Late Fees — “The Mechanical Licensing Collective (the MLC) has sued Pandora for allegedly failing to adequately pay and report its monthly royalties, specifically in connection with the operation of its ad-supported tier ‘Pandora Free’ (also known as ‘radio’ or ‘free Pandora’).”

By , February 09, 2024.

Fourth Circuit Finds No Transformative or Noncommercial Use of Ted Nugent Photo in Online Article — Although the court held that the district court’s transformative use finding was inconsistent with Fourth Circuit precedent, it also relied heavily on the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Andy Warhol Foundation v. Goldsmith, making this one of the first appellate court decisions to do so.

Ban Copyright Exploitation In AI Models, Lords Urge UK Gov’t — “The Communications and Digital Committee said Friday that the government should introduce new laws to bring a definitive end to tech firms using copyrighted works without permission while developing artificial intelligence. It said the government ‘cannot sit on its hands’ on the issue, which licensing organizations have since echoed.”

European Publishers Praise New EU AI Law — “More than 200 organizations in Europe’s creative and cultural sectors had lobbied in support of the legislation, arguing that the rapid development of AI has been enabled by the illegal use of copyright-protected works to train the models, and was conducted without any disclosure—or remuneration—to those whose protected work was used.”

Japan Newspaper Group Seeks Copyright Protection from AI — “The Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association submitted an opinion to the Cultural Affairs Agency that a government panel subcommittee’s draft view on copyright protection from generative AI is good to some extent but not enough for full copyright protection for their news content.”

Appeals Court Hears RIAA and Yout in ‘High Stakes’ Stream-ripper Case — “On the surface, this case largely revolves around a seemingly simple question. The problem, however, is that both parties have a completely different answer. Does YouTube employ a technological measure that effectively controls access to copyrighted works? This question brings up all sorts of semantic challenges. What is a measure and when is it technological? What does access mean in this context and under which conditions is it controlled? And if there is such a measure, does circumvent it? A few days ago Yout and the RIAA had the chance to explain their reasoning to the Court of Appeals. The hearing was presided over by Judge Carney, Judge Leval, and Judge Sullivan, who critically questioned both attorneys on their views.”