Almost Timely News: Copyright Must NEVER Apply to AI-Made Works (2024-01-28) :: View in Browser
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95% of this week’s newsletter was generated by me, the human. You’ll listen to some AI-generated music and see some AI-generated photography in the opening. Learn why this kind of disclosure is important.
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What’s On My Mind: Copyright Must NEVER Apply to AI-Made Works
Today, a slight departure from our usual tactical fare to something a little big picture. Before we begin, I want to emphasize and disclaim that I am not a lawyer. I have zero legal training and no legal expertise beyond the ability to use a search engine intelligently. I cannot give legal advice, and you should hire a qualified attorney in your jurisdiction for legal advice specific to your situation.
Okay, with that out of the way, let’s talk about copyright, generative AI, and making sure artificial intelligence work product is never, ever eligible for copyright. We should unequivocally ensure machine-made content can never be protected under intellectual property laws, or else we’re going to destroy the entire creative economy.
That’s a big claim, isn’t it? Let’s unpack why.
Today, in most places in the world, the existing law is such that machine created works cannot hold copyright. If you create a blog post in ChatGPT, the work is automatically in the public domain since copyright applies only to works created by humans. Famous court cases like Naruto vs. Slater in the USA have established precedent that works created by non-humans cannot be copyrighted.
There are those folks who do advocate that machine-made works should be copyrightable. After all, we’re all using generative AI fairly frequently, to write blog posts and create images and ideate for meetings. It seems reasonable that if we write a really good prompt and a machine creates a work product from our hard work, from our prompt and efforts, that we should be able to claim and protect that work, right?
On the surface, this sounds like a reasonable position. In practice, it would be an absolute disaster that would pretty much wipe out most creative industries, for two reasons: economic and legal.
Let’s tackle the legal reason first. Let’s say I use generative AI like ChatGPT to generate a song, like this.
Pretty catchy, isn’t it? (You should watch the video version or listen to the audio version of this issue.) Today, this song is ineligible for copyright. I can put it up on Soundcloud, I can publish it to YouTube, I can do all sorts of things with it, but I can’t protect it. If you wanted to, you could use it in any production of yours and I would have no legal recourse because it’s public domain.
Now, suppose I was able to copyright this. What would happen if you tried to use it? I could send a lawyer your way and say that you have to cease and desist the use of my copyrighted work, or pay me a license and royalties to use the work. That’s how it works with human-led works today. Back in the early 1990s, Vanilla Ice sampled the bass line from Queen and David Bowie’s Under Pressure. Vanilla Ice later had to pay a licensing fee of four million dollars for the use of that short bass line, plus royalties and credit to the original work.
Whether or not you meant to, if you used part of my machine-generated song, you would owe me a licensing fee and possibly royalties because you would infringe on my copyright.
One of the most important things you can do when it comes to any technology, but especially anything AI, is to ask what can go wrong. What could go wrong here? How could someone take this technology and use it in ways that we didn’t intend?
Well, suppose I took my prompt and I wrote a bit of code, and started doing this:
Now, imagine that I do this a million times. A hundred million times. A billion times. There are only so many ways you can use the different notes, chord progressions, and patterns of music and still make music that’s worth listening to – and a machine can make them all.
And now, with a billion variations, I’ve pretty much covered every possible song. If you recall, Vanilla Ice had to fork over four million dollars for roughly ten musical notes. If my billion songs are now copyrighted, then every musician who composes a song from today forward has to check that their composition isn’t in my catalog of a billion variations – and if it is (which, mathematically, it probably will be), they have to pay me.
One person, one corporate entity, could take advantage of machine-generated copyright law to create a library of copyrighted content than then everyone else has to either pay to use, or risk a lawsuit. Whoever has the most compute power to build that library first wins, and then everyone else has to basically pay tribute or use generative AI along with classical AI to find variations that aren’t in the catalog.
That wipes out the music industry. That wipes out musical creativity, because suddenly there is no incentive to create and publish original music for commercial purposes, including making a living as a musician. You know you’ll just end up in a copyright lawsuit sooner or later with a company that had better technology than you.
This applies to visual arts. Suppose I use generative AI to render a photo, such as this synthetic photo of the hills of Sonoma, California at sunset.
Pretty nice, right? Now suppose a photographer publishes a substantially similar photo. Could I claim that their photo infringes on mine? It’s possible. It would certainly be costly to defend in court. What about a painting? If a machine can render several billion images, and each of those images is copyrighted, then similar images created afterwards by other humans could be challenged.
There is precedent for this sort of behavior – patent trolls. These are companies which buy up portfolios of patents and then make their money suing other companies to pay up. Imagine how lucrative it will be for them to start doing the same with copyrights.
This is the first, major reason why we, as a civilization, should not permit machines to hold copyrights. The second reason is economic. When a human creates a work and then licenses or sells it, what happens to that money? The money they receive is put back into the ecosystem in the form of purchases – that human creator spends it on food, rent, etc.
What happens when machines create? If their work is copyrighted, meaning it can be protected and sold, then companies have a much stronger incentive to use machines rather than people. The work would enjoy the same level of protection, which in turn means that the profit margins on the work will be much, much higher. An API call to ChatGPT today to produce the music above consumed 831 tokens. ChatGPT costs 3 cents per thousand tokens via its API; some models like Mixtral that can run locally on your computer cost only the electricity needed to run your computer.
I recently paid an independent musician $500 for a theme song. For that money, I could have gotten 100,000 songs out of ChatGPT. Even if 99,000 of them were stinkers, that would still leave me with massive ROI for the one thousand songs that did not suck. That musician went on to spend that money in their economy. If I had paid that same money to OpenAI, that would have gone to datacenter and GPU costs for the most part – and certainly, it would not be distributed as evenly in the local economy. Sam Altman might spend some of it to charge his EV, but the point is that the money spent on tech tends to hyperconcentrate money with a handful of companies rather than the broad economy.
If machine works remain non-copyrightable, there’s a strong disincentive for companies like Disney to use machine-made works. They won’t be able to enforce copyright on them, which makes those works less valuable than human-led works that they can fully protect. If machine works suddenly have the same copyright status as human-led works, then a corporation like Disney has much greater incentive to replace human creators as quickly as possible with machines, because the machines will be able to scale their created works to levels only limited by compute power. Tools like Stable Diffusion XL Turbo can generate an image in 207 milliseconds – that’s a fifth of a second. How quickly could a Disney or a Netflix engineer a gigantic content catalog that is entirely protected by copyright and that they could enforce over any human creator?
This is why it’s so important that we lobby our various governments around the world to keep machine-made content without any intellectual property rights. Write your elected representatives today to let them know your position on copyright and intellectual property rights being reserved solely for humans. Machine-made works should remain in the public domain so that human-led works are always inherently more valuable. If we allow machine-made works to be copyrighted and protected, we forfeit our own creative futures to the libraries created by a few well-funded companies that have the compute power to create every foreseeable variation of commercially viable content there is, and every other creator will have to pay them.
Now, as I said at the top, I am not a lawyer, and I have no legal background. If you’re a lawyer and I’m wrong about the law and how things would work in a world where AI can hold copyright, please leave a note in the comments to let me know what the real deal is as an attorney.
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ICYMI: In Case You Missed it
Besides the new Generative AI for Marketers course I’m relentlessly flogging, I recommend the livestream we did a couple weeks ago on fixing up email deliverability, with the impending changes coming to Gmail and Yahoo mail on February 1.
- So What? Fixing Up Email Deliverability
- Mind Readings: Generative AI’s Superpower Isn’t AI
- You Ask, I Answer: Fixing Social Media?
- You Ask, I Answer: Content Curation Tactics?
- Almost Timely News, January 21, 2024: Prompt Engineering and Latent Space
- Now With More Fake Comments
- So What? Google Analytics 4 Audit Basics
Skill Up With Classes
These are just a few of the classes I have available over at the Trust Insights website that you can take.
- 🦾 Generative AI for Marketers
- 👉 Google Analytics 4 for Marketers
- 👉 Google Search Console for Marketers (🚨 just updated with AI SEO stuff! 🚨)
- ⭐️ The Marketing Singularity: How Generative AI Means the End of Marketing As We Knew It
- Powering Up Your LinkedIn Profile (For Job Hunters) 2023 Edition
- Measurement Strategies for Agencies
- Empower Your Marketing With Private Social Media Communities
- Exploratory Data Analysis: The Missing Ingredient for AI
- How AI is Changing Marketing, 2022 Edition
- How to Prove Social Media ROI
- Proving Social Media ROI
- Paradise by the Analytics Dashboard Light: How to Create Impactful Dashboards and Reports
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If you work at a company or organization that wants to do bulk licensing, let me know!
Get Back to Work
Folks who post jobs in the free Analytics for Marketers Slack community may have those jobs shared here, too. If you’re looking for work, check out these recent open positions, and check out the Slack group for the comprehensive list.
- Ai Analytics Solutions Architect at Capgemini
- Ai Consultant (Functional Role) at Confidential
- Digital Analytics Manager at Harnham
- Director Of Ai – Enhanced Software Development at Trilogy
- Generative Ai Data Scientist at Saxon AI
- Google Analytics Manager at Harnham
- Head Of Data Acquisition at ProNovos Construction Intelligence
- Modeling & Performance Reporting Lead at Libra Solutions
- Senior Data Scientist- Gen Ai (Fulltime- Remoto) at Cognizant
What I’m Reading: Your Stuff
Let’s look at the most interesting content from around the web on topics you care about, some of which you might have even written.
Social Media Marketing
- Social Media Customer Service: What it is and How to Improve it via Sprout Social
- Meta Lets Users Separate Facebook & Instagram Accounts In Europe
- How social-centric Gallery Media is taking on events, TikTok Shop and ever-changing algorithms via Digiday
Media and Content
- How To Become a Content Writer via Top Content Writing Skills for 2024
- How Chevrolet amplified electric vehicle messaging among Black college students via PR Daily
- 11 FAQs About How To Use Contributed Articles As Part of a Powerful PR Program
SEO, Google, and Paid Media
- 60% Of SEOs Are Worried About The Impact Of Google SGE
- Enterprise SEO Metrics & How to Report On Your Successes
- What to Look For in an SEO Analysis of a Website
Advertisement: Business Cameos
If you’re familiar with the Cameo system – where people hire well-known folks for short video clips – then you’ll totally get Thinkers One. Created by my friend Mitch Joel, Thinkers One lets you connect with the biggest thinkers for short videos on topics you care about. I’ve got a whole slew of Thinkers One Cameo-style topics for video clips you can use at internal company meetings, events, or even just for yourself. Want me to tell your boss that you need to be paying attention to generative AI right now?
Tools, Machine Learning, and AI
- Bringing Generative AI to the Edge with NVIDIA Metropolis Microservices for Jetson via NVIDIA Technical Blog
- A Technologist Spent Years Building an AI Chatbot Tutor. He Decided It Cant Be Done via EdSurge News
- How podcast networks are testing AI tools for faster translation, ad sales via Digiday
Analytics, Stats, and Data Science
- Here’s How You can Use GenAI for Coding via Analytics Vidhya
- Top 7 Tools to Chat with PDFs via Analytics Vidhya
- Understanding Namespaces in Python via Analytics Vidhya
All Things IBM
- How to handle a ransomware attack via IBM Blog
- The dynamic forces behind data center re-transformation via IBM Blog
Dealer’s Choice : Random Stuff
- Why YouTubers Hold Microphones Now – YouTube
- Morgan Eckroth, Portland, OR — 2022 US Barista Championship -Finals – YouTube
- (2) Why does the Turkish language use the Latin alphabet instead of Arabic alphabet? – Quora
How to Stay in Touch
Let’s make sure we’re connected in the places it suits you best. Here’s where you can find different content:
- My blog – daily videos, blog posts, and podcast episodes
- My YouTube channel – daily videos, conference talks, and all things video
- My company, Trust Insights – marketing analytics help
- My podcast, Marketing over Coffee – weekly episodes of what’s worth noting in marketing
- My second podcast, In-Ear Insights – the Trust Insights weekly podcast focused on data and analytics
- On Threads – random personal stuff and chaos
- On LinkedIn – daily videos and news
- On Instagram – personal photos and travels
- My free Slack discussion forum, Analytics for Marketers – open conversations about marketing and analytics
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Events I’ll Be At
Here’s where I’m speaking and attending. Say hi if you’re at an event also:
- Tourism Industry Association of Alberta’s Tourism Summit, Edmonton, February 2024
- Independent Consortium of Booksellers Association, Denver, February 2024
- Social Media Marketing World, San Diego, February 2024
- MarketingProfs AI Series, Virtual, March 2024
- Australian Food and Grocery Council, Melbourne, May 2024
- MAICON, Cleveland, September 2024
Events marked with a physical location may become virtual if conditions and safety warrant it.
If you’re an event organizer, let me help your event shine. Visit my speaking page for more details.
Can’t be at an event? Stop by my private Slack group instead, Analytics for Marketers.
Events with links have purchased sponsorships in this newsletter and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.
Advertisements in this newsletter have paid to be promoted, and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.
My company, Trust Insights, maintains business partnerships with companies including, but not limited to, IBM, Cisco Systems, Amazon, Talkwalker, MarketingProfs, MarketMuse, Agorapulse, Hubspot, Informa, Demandbase, The Marketing AI Institute, and others. While links shared from partners are not explicit endorsements, nor do they directly financially benefit Trust Insights, a commercial relationship exists for which Trust Insights may receive indirect financial benefit, and thus I may receive indirect financial benefit from them as well.
Thanks for subscribing and reading this far. I appreciate it. As always, thank you for your support, your attention, and your kindness.
See you next week,
Christopher S. Penn
You might also enjoy:
- Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics, and Execution
- How To Set Your Consulting Billing Rates and Fees
- Google Analytics 4: User Medium vs Session Medium
- Can Causation Exist Without Correlation? Yes!
- Almost Timely News, December 17, 2023: Improving the Performance of Generative AI Prompts
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