This is my response to Industry Canada's Consultation on Copyright in the Age of Artificial General Intelligence. The deadline for responses has been extended to Jan. 15, 2024.
Question*: How do businesses and consumers use AI systems and AI-assisted and AI-generated content in your area of knowledge, work, or organization?
In libraries, machine learning AI in the form of recommender systems ranking results by relevance (like Netflix) is in widespread use. Generative AI is in earlier stages of exploration and/or implementation in libraries and information management as a means of further automating and enriching information resource description and classification. On the other hand, the tendency of popular AI tools such as ChatGPT to invent content is raising concerns about spread of mis- and disinformation, complicating the work of ensuring that the public has access to high quality, accurate information. In academia, AI is in early stages of use for the purposes of accelerating research. AI raises both interest and concern with respect to pedagogy. Noteworthy examples of emerging types of applications include language learning supports for students, brainstorming, and automated translation, noting that results to date are best considered as early drafts.
Text and Data Mining
If the Government were to amend the Act to clarify the scope of permissible TDM activities, what should be its scope and safeguards? What would be the expected impact of such an exception on your industry and activities?
Should there be any obligations on AI developers to keep records of or disclose what copyright-protected content was used in the training of AI systems?
TDM for discovery purposes should be legal across all kinds of materials (e.g. to find songs, films, novels, and stories of interest, not for AGI training). To facilitate the advances AI is making possible in scientific and non-commercial research, TDM for training AGI should be legal for these purposes (follow UK / Switzerland example). One recommended change in copyright law to facilitate AI advances in Canada is to eliminate Section 41 Technological Protection Measures and Rights Management Information from the Copyright Act. This section prohibits circumvention even for purposes that are legal under the Act while it is unnecessary for purposes that are illegal under the Act. AI developers should be required to track and disclose materials used for training purposes. Legislation to this effect at this time would encourage development of efficient automated processes at an early stage in AI development.
Authorship and ownership of works created by AI
Is the uncertainty surrounding authorship or ownership of AI-assisted and AI-generated works and other subject matter impacting the development and adoption of AI technologies? If so, how?
Should the Government propose any clarification or modification of the copyright ownership and authorship regimes in light of AI-assisted or AI-generated works? If so, how?
Rapid growth of AI-generated content demonstrates that concerns about authorship and ownership are not a significant impediment. A Google search for “Amazon ChatGPT self-publishing” retrieves over 21 million results, with how-to books and publishing services at the top of the list. ChatGPT can produce a story “in the style of” a human author such as Margaret Atwood in seconds. This rapid growth raises two types of concerns 1) for human creators whose works and identity can easily be used with AI training to create new works to compete with the original creator and 2) for increasing production and distribution of mis/disinformation when a tool like ChatGPT (described by AI experts as having a tendency to “hallucinate”) is used to create nonfiction works without the oversight of human experts.
Comments and suggestions
Achieving the potential benefits of AI requires TDM exemptions for scientific and non-commercial research following the UK / Switzerland example and elimination of Section 41 of the Copyright Act Technological Protection Measures and Rights Management Information. Most potential benefits of AI do not involve the use of others’ copyrighted material – for example, companies and individuals using AI to automate or build on their own work. Encouraging AI users to make use of the copyrighted work of human creators raises two concerns, 1) the possibility of training AI using the work and identity of a human creator to capitalize on their identity and compete with them in the marketplace, and 2) the possibility of increasing creation of mis/dis-information in the case of non-fiction works. Concern about AI identity misuse is broader than traditional copyrighted works, for example use of images of individuals in pornographic works without their knowledge or consent.
* The consultation includes more questions - I am only including the questions here that I chose to respond to.