AI and Law
Kyle Wiggers, over at TechCrunch, informs us “The current legal cases against generative AI are just the beginning.” Microsoft, GitHub and OpenAI are currently being sued in a class action over Copilot, a code-generating AI system trained on public code. The suit claims that the companies are violating copyright law by creating a system that generates licensed code snippets yet provides no credit. Midjourney and Stability AI are being sued over claims that their generative AI art tools were trained on images from the web. Stability AI has also been taken to court by Getty Images for using their data for training without permission.
A trend seems to be emerging.
This lengthy and detailed article tells us:
- Legal experts warn that generative AI tools could put companies at risk of engaging in copyright violation. Some websites have banned AI-generated content for fear of legal reprisals. On the other hand, others say that without a “smoking gun”—a system that exactly reproduces the material it was trained upon–legal action will be difficult.
- Generative AI systems can produce works “in the style of” a particular artist, but copyrighting style has proved notoriously difficult.
- Everyone seems to agree that copyright law must be updated to reflect the new technology. Legal precedent, so far, seems to tilt in favor of generative AI. For example, the U.S. Court of Appeals deemed that Google scanning millions of copyrighted books without a license constituted fair use.
- Wiggers also introduces us to a term from the Federal Trade Comission: algorithmic disgorgement. While this may bring to mind a digital ipecac, it is a doctrine that companies cannot profit from illegaly collected data, either directly or through the algorithms that are trained on it, akin to the “fruit of the poisonous tree” construct.