New Supreme Court Decision Changes Copyright Precedent, Putting AI Models At Existential RiskNew Supreme Court Decision Changes Copyright Precedent, Putting AI Models At Existential Risk
Source: OECD AI Policy Observatory

The United State Supreme Court’s recent evaluation of copyright law’s “fair use” doctrine is touted to have major implications on generative artificial intelligence (AI) models trained on billions of copyrighted images and texts scrapped from the web.

Generative AI art models released by Stability AI Inc., DeviantArt Inc, and Midjourney Inc. were recently slammed with separate lawsuits earlier this year from Getty Images Inc. and a group of artists.

The litigation claimed copyright infringement on billions of images without authorization or compensation.

Some of the artists in the legal case against the aforementioned art-based AI companies include Kelly McKernan, Karla Ortiz, and Sarah Andersen, the author of the online-based comic “Sarah Scribbles.”

The rise of AI platforms and a myriad of litigations has left a dark legal landscape that has given room for questions on copyright infringement and whether AI models can be held accountable for using existing copyrighted data to train their generators.

Source: Jina AI

AI models such as ChatGPT have integrated a significant number of copyrighted data, including texts and images, under the disguise of using content to build and train the knowledge base of models in operation.

While defendants in a series of infringement lawsuits assert that these platforms utilize data freely without authorization or credits, AI companies have argued content is used for transformative purposes, hence qualifying for the U.S. copyright “Fair Use” law.

‘Fair Use’ is a U.S. doctrine that allows companies to use limited copyrighted data without the need to acquire direct authorization from original creators.

The doctrine is only put in play when used copyrighted data are not utilized for commercial gain and threats to the financial venture of the creator.

While Stability AI Inc. and other art-modeled platforms are yet to invoke a fair use defense, legal attorneys and enthusiasts believe using copyrighted images and texts for “transformative” purposes could be upended based on the Andy Warhol v Goldsmith case ruling.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Andy Warhol Foundation Visual Arts Inc. (AWF) over copyright infringement of professional photographer Lynn Goldsmith.

In 2016, the AWF licensed an image heralded as “Orange Prince” for a fee of $10,000.

According to the filed suit, Orange Prince is one of the sixteen works derived from a copyrighted photograph taken in 1981 by Lynn Goldsmith.

Andy Warhol Copyright Infringement
Source: Courthouse News Service

On May 18th, the Supreme Court ruled that the AWF intended to commercially benefit from the Goldsmith photograph and, therefore, could not be ruled out as a fair use exemption.

While the ruling does not change the copyright law, attorneys believe it is a significant opinion on the debate of AI’s transformative use of copyrighted data.

AI companies are constantly selling access to their innovative AI models that have been trained using creators’ texts, images, and other data.

The above concept is a point against the argument that AI transforms infringed data, qualifying it under the fair use exemption because it is intended for commercial use.

These AI companies sell their models trained using copyrighted data and earn massive returns without paying any form of compensation to creators.

“Fair Use” Doctrine Is a Faux Used to Undermine the Rights of Creators

The Supreme Court’s verdict on the Andy Warhol v. Goldsmith case signifies a major step towards protecting the basic rights of creators.

Mitch Glazier, CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), expressed his delight at the court’s decision, demonstrating that the Copyright Act protects content creators from the recent threats posed by AIs.

Although there’s not been a legal statement on whether the “Fair Use” doctrine will be scrapped or reconstructed, legal enthusiasts believe creators’ rights will be protected. However, the AI movement has already begun and it will be tremendously difficult to stop.

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