Artificial Intelligence (AI) often makes the front pages of newspapers, sometimes with social or political news, such as the blocking and restoring of ChatGPT or with lifestyle news, such as the victory at the Sony World Photography Awards of a photograph generated by an AI system.
Intellectual Property is not immune to the disruptive effects of the various technologies that [fa1] may be affected by AI.[fa2] Inevitably, our newsletter has dealt with this topic several times, most recently with last February’s article where we focused on the issue of copyright protection for works produced with (or by) AI . In the last lines of that article, we called for legislative intervention in the short term to fill the gap between the current authorial discipline, which was born and evolved before the advent of Artificial Intelligence, and the concrete applications of generative information technologies.[fa3] In the article we expressed doubts about the capability of current laws to deal with the new issues generated by AI. [fa4]
AI and Intellectual Property: the latest news
Our doubts were somewhat shared by the European Parliament which, during its sitting on 27 April, voted an amendment to the Artificial Intelligence Act (AIA) which seeks to eliminate or reduce some of the abuses of the use of generative AI in the field of creative works.
The document[fa5] , that represents a proposal for a European Union regulatory framework, aims, on the one hand, at averting the negative effects that AI could have on the lives of European citizens and, on the other, at exploiting its potential beneficial effect on economic growth.
Artificial Intelligence Act (AIA): what it is and what it is for
The AIA focuses mainly on classifying applications of AI according to the level of risk of violating citizens’ fundamental rights. In particular, the proposal defines certain applications as ‘prohibited practices‘, among which are certain uses of biometric identification programmes in the field of public security, or the development of social evaluation systems for citizens based on the accumulation or loss of ‘credits’, such as the one that has been experimented in the People’s Republic of China for some years, or the exploitation of subliminal techniques to manipulate people’s behaviour.
Other applications, especially in the fields of education, personnel selection, administration of justice or immigration control are defined as ‘high-risk practices‘ and are only allowed if those who carry them out follow strict requirements in terms of transparency and data management.
The new amendments to the AIA: what changes
Among the additions to the text voted on by MEPs in April are some that refer to generative AI models, i.e. AI systems that can be used or adapted for use in a wide range of applications for which they were not intentionally and specifically designed, as in the case of OpenAI‘s famous chatbot.
For these models, it is proposed to make mandatory public disclosure of copyrighted works used for software training. Indeed, the quality and market attractiveness of the ‘output’ provided by AI systems depends on the ‘input’ given to the programme in[fa6] the training phase. If this requirement were to come into force, it could allow legitimate rights holders of works ‘milled’ by AI programs[fa7] to be compensated for their contribution to their commercial success.
One potential field of application is music, where the practice of generating music tracks using AI, from the voice or creative work of others, has become widespread. For example, thanks to AI generative models, one can listen to famous artists such as Eminem, Drake or Kanye West sing and play songs on which they have never actually performed.
The European Parliament proposal could be particularly useful in those cases where, in artificially produced songs, the voice or otherwise creative contribution of flesh-and-blood artists who have not given prior consent or received adequate remuneration is not immediately recognisable. The approval process of the proposal, foresees[fa8] , after a further vote, a May 11, by the Internal Market Committee and the Civil Liberties Committee , is expected in mid-June through a plenary vote of the European Parliament, which will be followed by the so-called ‘trilogue’, i.e. the informal negotiation between Parliament, Council and Commission.