What the AI copyright fights are truly about: Human labor versus endless machines

The real beef concerns our future to create and be rewarded for it

Kettle A slew of copyright lawsuits were filed against the makers of text and image-generating AI systems last year. Now in 2024 and beyond, we're going to see how those play out, and what ramifications and settlements they bring.

The New York Times opened fire on OpenAI and its champion Microsoft just last week. The newspaper was upset that "millions" of its articles were allegedly used without permission to build bots including ChatGPT that output "memorized" copies of those stories or ones that are "substantially similar."

Your humble hacks got together today to discuss it all, which you can replay below – or listen via your favorite podcast distributor: RSS and MP3, Apple, Amazon, Spotify, and Google.

On the surface, these cases are about alleged copyright infringement by Big Tech at a time when it's still up in the air as to how that law intersects generative models. Do the plaintiffs have a solid legal footing, or not; can they be fairly compensated if necessary, and how would that work; and does the law need to change, why should it change, and how?

As we wait for those questions to be answered, it appears to us that below the accusations of infringement, there's a moral argument being gradually advanced against the displacement of people by hyperscale generators of material that were built on human work. Settlements, payments, and agreements may be reached to straighten all this out.

Meanwhile, a Beijing court has ruled AI-generated content can be copyright protected. America has taken a similar stance: if a human was the driving force of the creative work, and they happened to use AI to produce it, it can be protected by copyright.

On today's 18-minute show we have, clockwise from top left in the thumbnail, vultures Chris Williams, Brandon Vigliarolo, Thomas Claburn, and host Iain Thomson.

This episode was produced and edited by Nicole Hemsoth Prickett. You can find previous Kettles right here. ®

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