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Thursday, April 06, 2023

Copyright Librarians Implications of AI-Generated Works

Copyright librarians, who manage and advise on intellectual property rights issues within their institutions, will be directly affected by AI. 

Copyright librarians are responsible for engaging with the broader community of legal scholars, policymakers, and industry stakeholders to help shape the future of copyright law in response to the emergence of AI-generated works. 

  • We best familiarize ourselves with the current state of copyright law and its foundations.
  • Understand the challenges AI-generated works pose to traditional notions of authorship and originality.
  • Explore potential alternative legal frameworks for AI-generated works.
  • Stay informed by engaging with interdisciplinary resources and following relevant legal cases and precedents.
  • Monitor developments in AI technology and legislation.
  • Build relationships with legal experts, AI developers, and policymakers.
  • Participate in discussions and debates surrounding AI-generated works and copyright law.
  • Advocate for fair and balanced copyright regulations.
  • Learn how to handle AI-generated works in library collections.
  • Provide guidance to patrons on copyright issues related to AI-generated works.

Here is a table of resources and topics that copyright librarians and others interested in copyright law can engage with, along with URLs for each resource

Resource / TopicURL
U.S. Copyright Office
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
Creative Commons
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO)
The Public Domain Review
Project MUSE (Open Access Journals)
Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
Copyright User
Internet Archive
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) - Intellectual Property
Stanford Copyright and Fair Use Center
Google Books Project (book digitization and copyright issues)

A Brief Historical Perspective on the Evolution of Copyright and Tech

PeriodKey Concerns and Developments
Late 17th-18th Centuries- Emergence of the concept of copyright with the enactment of the Statute of Anne (1710) in England.
- Early copyright concerns primarily revolved around the printing, distributing, and reproducing of written works.
19th Century- Internationalization of copyright law with the Berne Convention (1886).
- The introduction of copyright protection for other creative works such as music, art, and photographs.
Early-Mid 20th Century- Expansion of copyright protection to include new mediums, such as films and sound recordings.
- Emergence of photocopying technology, raising concerns about unauthorized copying and distribution.
Late 20th Century- The rise of digital technology and the Internet leads to new challenges related to digital piracy.
- Introduction of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in the United States to address digital copyright concerns.
Early 21st Century- Growing prominence of open-access publishing and Creative Commons licenses, prompting new models for copyright management.
- Widespread use of digital media and streaming services, leading to new licensing and distribution challenges.
Present (AI Authorship)- Emergence of AI-generated works, challenging traditional notions of authorship and originality.
- Legal and ethical debates surrounding copyright protection for AI-generated works and potential adoption of a sui generis legal regime.

Understanding the Limits of the Anthropocentric Foundations of Copyright Law

The theoretical foundations of copyright law, rooted in fostering creativity and facilitating knowledge dissemination, face new challenges as AI-generated works emerge. 

In this context of AI, copyright librarians must adapt their understanding and approach to the legal framework, given that the anthropocentric assumptions underpinning it are now being questioned.

As AI systems produce creative outputs with varying degrees of human involvement, the role of copyright librarians in interpreting and managing these works becomes increasingly essential.

To address these challenges, copyright librarians must remain vigilant of the evolving legal landscape and the potential reforms to the existing copyright framework. 

And so, librarians should be prepared to guide library patrons, researchers, and other stakeholders on the appropriate use of AI-generated works, which may involve novel legal and ethical considerations.

The responsibility exists because this engagement will necessitate advocating for legal reforms that maintain the delicate balance between incentivizing innovation and promoting knowledge dissemination while also addressing the unique challenges posed by AI authorship.

As AI-generated works blur the lines between human and machine creation, the assessment of originality, a key criterion for copyright protection, becomes increasingly complex.
And since AI produces creative works based on pre-existing data and algorithms, the distinction between original expressions and derivative works is called into question. 

Originality Requirements for Copyright Protection

Originality is a fundamental requirement for copyright protection, ensuring that only works exhibiting a certain level of creativity and individual expression are granted legal protection. 

This criterion distinguishes copyrightable works from mere facts, ideas, or unoriginal phrases, thereby maintaining the balance between incentivizing creativity and promoting knowledge dissemination. 

Because AI-generated works complicate the assessment of originality, as AI systems often rely on pre-existing data, patterns, and algorithms to produce creative outputs determining whether an AI-generated work meets the originality threshold for copyright protection becomes a challenging task, raising questions about the adequacy of the current legal framework in addressing the unique characteristics of machine-generated creations.

This process may involve redefining the concepts of authorship and originality, exploring alternative legal frameworks designed explicitly for AI-generated works, or reconsidering the balance between incentivizing creativity and promoting knowledge dissemination in the context of machine-generated creations.

As legal scholars, policymakers, and industry stakeholders navigate this uncharted territory, they must strive to develop a responsive and forward-looking copyright system that accommodates the complexities of AI-generated works and safeguards the interests of both human creators and the broader society.

Promoting Knowledge Dissemination

In the context of a copyright librarian dealing with AI authorship, promoting knowledge dissemination becomes a complex task, as the traditional balance between creators' rights and public access to creative works is disrupted by the emergence of AI-generated works.

Copyright librarians must stay informed about the ongoing debates and potential changes in copyright law concerning AI-generated works and be aware of any amendments to existing copyright laws that may arise in response to AI authorship.

Necessarily, Copyright librarians must actively participate in discussions surrounding AI authorship's legal and ethical implications, advocating for policies and practices that incentivize innovation and promote knowledge dissemination. 

By staying engaged in these discussions and contributing their expertise, copyright librarians can help shape the future of copyright law to accommodate the challenges posed by AI authorship and preserve the core objectives of promoting creativity and knowledge dissemination.

In reassessing the assumptions behind the incentive-based rationale for copyright protection, it is crucial to consider the broader implications of AI-generated works on creativity and knowledge dissemination.

Defining Sui Generis Legal Regime

A sui generis legal regime is a unique, tailor-made legal framework that addresses a particular subject matter or circumstances.

In the context of AI-generated works, a sui generis legal regime would be a different system of intellectual property rights that recognizes the unique characteristics of machine-generated creations instead of relying on the traditional copyright framework that primarily focuses on human beings' authorship. 

The development of such a regime could involve the creation of new legal categories, rights, and obligations that specifically pertain to AI-generated works, aiming to strike a balance between incentivizing innovation, protecting human creators, and promoting knowledge dissemination. 

For copyright librarians, understanding and adapting to a sui generis legal regime would require staying informed about the evolving legal landscape and being prepared to offer guidance on the implications of this distinct framework for library patrons and stakeholders.

Categorization and Cataloging

As AI-generated works become more prevalent, Copyright librarians must adapt their cataloging practices to effectively manage these resources while considering the categorization of copyrights requiring a deep understanding of the complexities surrounding AI-generated works' authorship, originality, and rights.

Different jurisdictions may have varying standards of originality; thus, copyright librarians should be familiar with the applicable copyright laws in their region to properly categorize AI-generated works.

As AI-generated works may have multiple contributors, the concept of authorship may differ for AI-generated works, as they may have varying degrees of human involvement. 

In cataloging these works, copyright librarians should clearly indicate the role of AI systems, human collaborators, or both in the creation process. Identifying the appropriate authorship attribution will be essential for determining the copyright status and rights associated with the work. In addition, the cataloging process should incorporate detailed metadata elements specific to AI-generated results, such as the algorithm used, training data, and the degree of human involvement. This metadata will provide users with a deeper understanding of the creative process and the potential copyright implications of the work.

This information is of great value as it will help users understand the ownership structure and any associated restrictions or permissions related to the job.

The implication is reestablishing cataloging guidelines that address the unique characteristics of AI-generated works, such as the algorithm used, the training data employed, and the degree of human involvement. 

AI-generated works may be subject to different licensing arrangements or permissions than human-authored works. Copyright librarians should include relevant licensing information in the catalog record to ensure users know the conditions under which they can access and use these works.


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