The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the union representing below-the-line workers in the entertainment business, last week issued a list of “core principles” for the use of artificial intelligence technology in stage and screen production. Among them is the need to develop “clear definitions that categorize various types of so-called ‘artificial intelligence’ in order to advance enforceable legislative and collective bargaining oversight. IATSE will also urgently identify which crafts and Local Unions are most at-risk of being affected in the immediate future.”
EXTRA Picking up where the U.S. Justice Department’s antitrust suit against Google left off, USA Today-publisher Gannett Co. this week filed its own lawsuit against the search giant in U.S. district court in New York. The 80-page complaint covers much the same ground as DOJ’s filing, accusing Google of using anticompetitive tactics to achieve an illegal monopoly over the digital advertising market. But the Gannett suit seeks to make explicit what is only implicit in the DOJ action: News publishers are being directly harmed by Google’s actions.
EXTRA Antitrust authorities in the European Union are apparently fed up with what they view as Google’s ongoing anticompetitive behavior in the online advertising business. Having levied at least three antitrust fines against the search giant in recent years totaling nearly $9 billion but doing little to alter Google’s business practices, the EU’s executive arm, the European Commission, is now recommending a breakup of the Alphabet unit’s ad-tech monopoly through the forced sale of assets.
EXTRA The timing was mere coincidence, and the context different. But the official organs or the copyright industries were quick to pounce on what is at least a colorable connection between the Supreme Court’s 7-2 ruling in Andy Warhol Foundation v. Lynn Goldsmith and the current bubbling controversy around the use of copyrighted works to train generative AI models.
EXTRA As it did with data protection and privacy with its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the European Union is again moving to establish a de facto global standard for the design and operation of generative artificial intelligence models and applications. Votes by two key committees of the European Parliament last week put the E.U.’s long-gestating AI Act on a glide path to adoption by the full legislature at a plenary session scheduled for mid-June. Once adopted, the proposed law would move to the final stage of the legislative process, involving three-way negotiations known as a trilogue among Parliament, the EU Commission and the EU Council.
EXTRA The U.S. Copyright Office held the second of its planned series of four listening sessions on generative AI last week, this time with a focus on visual arts. But if the officials were hoping to hear how Congress and the courts can or should respond to the challenges presented by the new technology they may have been disappointed.
While there was plenty of robust discussion over allegations of copyright infringement and whether images produced by or with AI tools should to eligible for copyright protection, one major theme to emerge from the three-hour event was the need to look beyond copyright law alone to address those questions.
EXTRA Universal Music Group chairman & CEO Lucian Grainge has had it up to here with generative AI.
“The recent explosive development in generative AI will, if left unchecked, both increase the flood of unwanted content hosted on platforms, and create rights issues with respect to existing copyright law, in the U.S. and other countries, as well as laws governing trademark, name and likeness, voice impersonation, and right of publicity,” he said on UMG’s otherwise upbeat Q1 earnings call this week.
The U.S. Copyright Office last week held the first of its planned series of “listening sessions” on artificial intelligence and copyright, which focused on AI and literary works. It featured representatives from authors’ groups and speakers from the technology and academic worlds talking past each other for three hours.
I highly recommend watching the replay when it’s posted on the Copyright Office website.
I say that not to be facetious. Rather, it’s because the communication breakdown on display was itself illustrative of where the policy debate around AI and copyright currently stands: We lack the critical, let alone shared vocabulary to fairly debate what we’re trying to debate.
The following op-ed is excerpted from a longer essay prepared by Association of American Publishers president and CEO Maria A. Pallante. The original can be found here.
By Maria A. Pallante
Following three years of litigation in the critical copyright case Hachette Book Group, et al, v. Internet Archive, we now have a strong and favorable result. In granting summary judgement for the publisher plaintiffs, Judge Koeltl resolved all four fair use factors in the Copyright Act against the Internet Archive (IA).
Everyone who values our global, creative economy should read the Court’s opinion. The holdings are a forceful validation of well-established law and an unequivocal rejection of the defendant’s upside-down assertions that its activities support “research, scholarship, and cultural participation by making books more widely available on the Internet.” As the Court observed, “Any copyright infringer may claim to benefit the public by increasing public access to the copyrighted work.”
EXTRA Facebook-parent Meta last month suddenly began removing music by Italian songwriters from its various platforms, after failing to renew is licensing agreement with the Italian Society of Authors and Publishers (SIAE), the main collecting society for Italian writers and publishers. This month, the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) launched an investigation into Meta’s handling of those negotiations. According to AGCM, Meta “could have unduly interrupted the negotiations for licensing the use, on its platforms, of musical rights thus abusing SIAE’s economic dependence.”