The Liberal government is asking for input on potential changes to copyright law to account for the emergence of generative artificial intelligence systems like ChatGPT.
That includes the question of whether copyright protection should apply to AI-generated work, or whether it should be reserved exclusively for work created by humans, it outlined in a new consultation.
The goal is “to continue the important fact-finding work to inform copyright policy in an era where content, including content that seems creative and original, can be routinely generated by an AI system.”
The National Post reported earlier this month that the federal government doesn’t know how Canadian copyright law applies to systems like ChatGPT, and is following multiple lawsuits in the United States. Court cases from comedian Sarah Silverman, a group of artists, Getty Images, and authors including John Grisham and George R.R. Martin, among others, allege generative artificial intelligence systems infringe on copyright by using copyrighted works without permission.
“These systems can generate novel creative content in a wide variety of forms and even of quality comparable to works created by talented human artists,” said the consultation document released Thursday.
Generative artificial intelligence like Open AI’s ChatGPT uses existing material to train the systems, which can produce text, audio or video in response to prompts. The rapid emergence of the technology in the past year has left governments grappling with how to regulate it, including in terms of copyright.
On one side are the rights holders and creators who want protections against the use of their works for training AI, and who are likely to urge the government to keep a human element to copyright authorship, the government outlined in an earlier document obtained through access to information. On the other, tech companies argue that using protected works to train AI systems isn’t an infringement of copyright, and are likely to support copyright protection for AI-generated content.
The government indicated in the consultation it wants to balance the two perspectives. It said it wants to support innovation and investment in both AI and Canada’s creative industries.
It’s seeking input on how copyright law should deal with the use of copyrighted material for training generative AI systems, as well as whether it should change the copyright and authorship regimes to account for AI-generated content. Comments are due Dec. 4.
“AI can now create content that is difficult to distinguish from content created by human persons,” the consultation noted. “Over the years, AI systems’ capacity to independently generate works or other subject matter has increased and that is only expected to continue. There are now a number of AI applications that can write movie scripts, software, and music with little human input beyond the development of the AI itself.”
The consultation paper outlined different options, including clarifying that copyright protection only applies to works created by humans, or attributing authorship to the person who set up the AI-generated work to be created, an approach that could “mean that AI-generated works receive similar copyright protection as works created by humans.”