This comment was submitted Oct. 26, 2023 to the U.S. Copyright Office's Artificial Intelligence Study
Copyright laws internationally do not provide human creators with sufficient moral and related rights (identity and publicity) in the context of artificial intelligence. Significant work is needed at the national and international levels to meet what I would argue is a minimal ethical standard, and this should not be rushed. In the meantime, the remedy that I recommend is to limit copyright on works produced with substantial AI involvement to AI works trained on material in the public domain. For example, AI artists are creating new works based on freely available images from the Mars rover; such works do not raise the ethical questions that are the focus of this submission. To illustrate the problem when works are based on contemporary human creators, note that current AI tools such as Stable Diffusion (images) and ChatGPT allow anyone to create new works "in the style of" a particular creator, and it is clear that this is occuring without any attempt to obtain permission from the creator. With ChatGPT, anyone can quickly verify this by asking ChatGPT to write a story "in the style of" any well-known author. The works of Canadian artists that were not publicly available have been found in a service using Stable Diffusion, along with a tool to create new works "in the style of" these artists. If this is done with the intent of publishing the results, I argue that this is an example of identity theft or fraud, particularly (but not exclusively) if the downstream creation is published with the name of the original creator with commercial benefit to the downstream creator. There are potential reputational and economic harms to original creators. I argue that the potential harms to living human creators far outweigh any benefit from permitting AI to use their works and identity until legal protections can be put into place. As context for this comment, I would like to note that I am excited about the potential of AI to achieve more rapid advances in science, medicine, and everyday productivity in our workplaces and homes. I am an Associate Professor at the University of Ottawa's School of Information Studies, submitting as an individual, and long-time advocate for open access to scholarly publications, a topic on which I have contributed to prior U.S. government publications. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this consultation.