US Congress proposes Generative AI Copyright Disclosure Act

AI companies, including OpenAI, face lawsuits over alleged copyright infringement but claim fair use. Concerns have been raised about AI’s potential threat to artists’ rights.

US Congress

A new bill introduced in the US Congress aims to require AI companies to disclose the copyrighted material they use to train their generative AI models. The bill, named the Generative AI Copyright Disclosure Act and introduced by California Democrat Adam Schiff, mandates that AI firms submit copyrighted works in their training datasets to the Register of Copyrights before launching new generative AI systems. Companies must file this information at least 30 days before releasing their AI tools or face financial penalties. The datasets in question can contain vast amounts of text, images, music, or video content.

Congressman Schiff emphasised the need to balance AI’s potential with ethical guidelines and protections, citing AI’s disruptive influence on various aspects of society. The bill does not prohibit AI from training on copyrighted material but requires companies to disclose the copyrighted works they use. This move responds to increasing litigation and government scrutiny around whether major AI companies have unlawfully used copyrighted content to develop tools like ChatGPT.

Entertainment industry organisations and unions, including the Recording Industry Association of America and the Directors Guild of America, have supported Schiff’s bill. They argue that protecting the intellectual property of human creative content is crucial, given that AI-generated content originates from human sources. Companies like OpenAI, currently facing lawsuits alleging copyright infringement, maintain their use of copyrighted material falls under fair use, a legal doctrine permitting certain unlicensed use of copyrighted materials.

Why does it matter?

As generative AI technology evolves, concerns about the potential impact on artists’ rights grow within the entertainment industry. Notably, over 200 musicians recently issued an open letter urging increased protections against AI and cautioning against tools that could undermine or replace musicians and songwriters. The debate highlights the intersection of AI innovation, copyright law, and the livelihoods of creative professionals, presenting complex challenges for policymakers and stakeholders alike.