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Artificial Intelligence: The Copyright Connection

Blue, green, and orange concentric circles to represent computer technology. Text reading, "Artificial Intelligence: The Copyright Connection."The following is a guest post by Whitney Levandusky, Supervisory Copyright Claims Attorney in the Office of the General Counsel.

Artificial intelligence (AI)—machine learning systems set to accomplish tasks—has captivated the public, filled headlines, and prompted new and broad policy discussions. AI, however, is nothing new, with the term “artificial intelligence” coined in the 1950s. Research and investment in AI rises and falls through “summers” and “winters,” but you can see the pull of AI problems and solutions in such wide-ranging applications as government administration—the U.S. Postal Service implemented a machine learning system to read handwritten mailing addresses in 1997—and entertainment—an AI system has won Jeopardy, and the topic is a central concern in a Steven Spielberg movie.

We are now in the midst of a new AI summer—a period of rapid development and growth in machine learning enabled by advances in computing power and connectedness. In addition, the rise of big data provides researchers and businesses with seemingly limitless resources with which to train AI systems. These systems are becoming a regular feature in our lives in the form of virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa, and online search recommendations. AI is being used to develop artworks like the next Rembrandt, news reports, music in video games, and actors in film. Machine learning assists in diagnosis, self-driving cars, and tracking and identification systems.

All of these new developments raise copyright-related questions: How are artists, scientists, and businesses inspired by the technological advances of AI? When AI produces a creative work, is the expression owned by human or machine? What is owed to creators of AI input data from a copyright or moral rights perspective? What ethical implications are involved in selecting a data set and building an AI system?

Concentric blue, orange, and green circles around a "C". Translucent gears are scattered around the graphic. Text reads, "Copyright Law and Machine Learning for AI: Where Are We and Where Are We Going? Tuesday, October 26, 2021. 10 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. ET"In 2020, the U.S. Copyright Office and the World Intellectual Property Organization held a symposium that took an in-depth look at how the creative community is using artificial intelligence to create original works. On October 26, 2021, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. eastern time, the Office and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will host its next AI-related event: Copyright Law and Machine Learning for AI: Where Are We and Where Are We Going? This event will explore machine learning in practice, how existing copyright laws apply to the training of artificial intelligence, and what the future may hold in this fast-moving policy space. We’re excited to bring together experts, academics, creators, and business representatives to discuss these forward-looking concepts.

We hope you’ll join us! You can register on the event website, where you also will find the agenda and speakers. If you can’t make it, we will post the recordings on the event website.

Quaint and Curious Forgotten (Copyright) Lore

Learn more about the connection between Edgar Allan Poe and copyright at the Copyright Matters event “Quoth the Raven: Edgar Allan Poe & Derivative Works.”  As we approach October, thoughts often turn to colorful foliage, cozy hoodies, and pumpkin spice everything. Some thoughts also drift toward the spooky season, bringing to mind scary stories and […]