Navigating the Intersection of Copyright and Data Rights in the Age of Generative AI

Ulrich Fischer

Hatched by Ulrich Fischer

Feb 29, 2024

4 min read


Navigating the Intersection of Copyright and Data Rights in the Age of Generative AI

In the age of generative AI, the conversation around copyright has taken on a new dimension. Eryk Salvaggio, in his article "A New Contract for Artists in the Age of Generative AI," raises an important point about the insufficiency of copyright in addressing the complexities brought about by this technology. He suggests that we need to consider the role of data rights, as they play a crucial part in protecting people who share information and artistic expression online.

The advent of generative AI presents an opportunity for us to re-evaluate our relationships with the data economy. This re-evaluation revolves around a tension between open access and consent. On one hand, proponents of a vibrant commons argue for robust research exceptions, encouraging remixes, collage, sampling, and reimagining of existing works. The goal is to foster new insights and interpretations. On the other hand, those advocating for better data rights emphasize the importance of individuals feeling a sense of ownership and control over the data they share, regardless of the platforms they use.

It is within this context that big tech companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Facebook are competing in the field of generative AI. As they strive to develop large language models (LLMs), they recognize the significance of tying up content publishers to access valuable text content. CB Insights Research suggests that publishers with valuable text content will become a licensing battleground for LLM makers. Language acquisition costs (LAC) are expected to rise as a result.

To navigate this intersection of copyright and data rights, it is essential to find common ground and natural connections between these two aspects. While copyright focuses on protecting original works and granting exclusive rights to creators, data rights address the ownership and control of the data used to create those works.

One possible solution lies in the concept of "Own Your Data," which harkens back to the Digital Rights Movement. By empowering individuals to own and control the data they share, regardless of the platforms they use, we can strike a balance between open access and consent. This approach ensures that artists and creators feel comfortable putting effort and care into their work, knowing that they retain ownership of the data generated through their creations.

In addition to this overarching principle, here are three actionable pieces of advice to consider when navigating the complexities of copyright and data rights in the age of generative AI:

  • 1. Advocate for comprehensive data rights: Push for legislation and policies that prioritize the protection of individuals' data rights. This includes ensuring that artists and creators have control over the data generated by their works and the ability to monetize it if desired. By strengthening data rights, we can create an environment that encourages creativity and innovation.
  • 2. Foster collaboration and dialogue: Encourage open discussions between artists, creators, and technology companies involved in generative AI. By fostering collaboration, we can find common ground and develop mutually beneficial solutions that respect both copyright and data rights. It is through dialogue that we can address concerns, share insights, and shape the future of this technology in a way that benefits everyone involved.
  • 3. Embrace evolving business models: As the landscape of content creation and consumption evolves, it is crucial to adapt business models accordingly. Explore alternative revenue streams, such as licensing agreements, that allow artists and creators to monetize their works while still respecting the rights of others. By embracing new approaches, we can ensure that the value generated by generative AI is distributed fairly and sustainably.

In conclusion, the age of generative AI presents a unique challenge at the intersection of copyright and data rights. By re-evaluating our relationships with the data economy and finding common ground between open access and consent, we can navigate this landscape successfully. Through comprehensive data rights, collaboration, and embracing evolving business models, we can foster an environment that supports both artistic expression and the protection of individuals' rights. It is through these actions that we can harness the full potential of generative AI while upholding the principles of copyright and data ownership.

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