Practical AI Practical AI #232

Legal consequences of generated content

As a technologist, coder, and lawyer, few people are better equipped to discuss the legal and practical consequences of generative AI than Damien Riehl. He demonstrated this a couple years ago by generating, writing to disk, and then releasing every possible musical melody. Damien joins us to answer our many questions about generated content, copyright, dataset licensing/usage, and the future of knowledge work.


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2023-07-18T22:09:06Z ago

I’m not sure the US copyright office would agree that Damien’s melodies are copyrightable. Since the US copyright office’s current stance is that AI created work is not copyrightable.

2023-07-18T23:54:16Z ago

Fair @rmitchell. my updated summary is more accurately reflecting what Damien did (and the spirit behind his work). That is, he released every possible melody, and, thus, people facing legal challenges over copyrighted melodies can cite his work in their cases (to show that such melodies are obvious and uncopyrightable, given that they have already been machine generated and released).

2023-07-20T16:56:09Z ago

Yes, that’s exactly right, @rmitchell — the U.S. Copyright has said IF AI generated THEN uncopyrightable.

The question: Why uncopyrightable? The likely answer: Because it’s unoriginal/uncreative. After all, a machine created it.

Question #2: What if a human made the identical melody — the same as a machine-created melody that the USCO declares uncopyrightable/unoriginal. Does it flip, like a quantum particle? The same melody is both “original/copyrightable” and “unoriginal/uncopyrightable”?

Example: Katy Perry was sued over a melody. That identical melody showed up in my dataset 8,000+ times. Cranked out at 300,000 melodies per second. Should that human get a monopoly on that melody — for 100+ years?

That’s the point of my talk. And my work at All The Music. Maybe what humans this is “creative” is actually unoriginal/uncopyrightable.

A more-fulsome discussion at my FAQ here:

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