AI copyright lawsuits

Pixels vs. plagiarism: Navigating copyright infringement in the age of AI

5 Mins Read

PUREVPNPixels vs. plagiarism: Navigating copyright infringement in the age of AI

You’ve probably heard about authors filing lawsuits against OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT. Beyond writers, artists and comedians are also resorting to legal action against top artificial intelligence companies.

It won’t be wrong to say that the AI industry has found itself entangled in a copyright puzzle. The ongoing legal clash between human creators and machine learning is only going to heat up. If you’re wondering what these lawsuits are all about and if AI is actually stealing ideas from authors and artists across the world, you’ve come to the right place because this blog will take a deep dive into the rapidly growing world of generative AI and discuss some of the most significant copyright cases faced by the industry. 

What is generative AI?

Did you know that experts estimate that nearly 90% of all content on the internet will be AI-generated by 2026?

While this figure may seem dramatic at first glance, it shouldn’t come as a surprise considering how generative AI has completely revolutionized the way we create content. 

For those unfamiliar with the term generative AI, it’s a technology that creates new content, like text or images, by learning patterns from existing datasets. It employs neural networks, a subset of machine learning modeled after the human brain, to process data input and generate coherent output. By recognizing and replicating patterns, generative AI can produce diverse outputs, including but not limited to text, images, and music. This output is often quite similar to the data it was trained on.

Today, AI tools such as ChatGPT and Dall-E are easily accessible to online users in various parts of the world. Their easy accessibility has opened doors to limitless possibilities by enabling rapid and personalized text generation, image creation, and innovative storytelling, all while freeing up valuable time for creators and businesses.

However, as this technology advances, it has blurred the lines between what is truly authentic and what is a mere imitation.

Intellectual property usually refers to human inventions, literary or artistic works, and symbols, designs, or names used in commerce. It has three main types: copyrights, trademarks, and patents. Copyrights protect creative works like books, music, and movies. Meanwhile, trademarks safeguard brand identifiers and patents grant exclusive rights to inventions.

Copyright infringement is defined as the unauthorized use or reproduction of copyrighted material. It occurs when someone uses, reproduces, or distributes copyrighted material without permission. The unauthorized use of protected content not only violates the exclusive rights of the creator but can also result in legal consequences, including fines and other penalties since copyright infringement is illegal in most parts of the world.

Read more: Friend or foe? Examining the pros and cons of ChatGPT

Is AI stealing your intellectual property?

Here comes the big question: should you be wary of artificial intelligence stealing your intellectual property?

Well, the answer can’t be a simple yes or no.

The thing is, AI learns from massive amounts of data, like books, articles, and writings present on the internet, which allows it to mimic human-like creativity and produce diverse content. Renowned companies,  like OpenAI and Stability AI, say that they’re protected by something called “fair use.” This is a rule in US law that lets them use some copyrighted material without asking for permission from the owner. However, whether they can use this defense successfully depends on whether the content generated by the AI is different from the originals or could be considered “transformative.”

Nevertheless, to answer the primary question, AI itself doesn’t steal intellectual property. However, there have been concerns about the potential misuse of AI to assist in the unauthorized copying or distribution of copyrighted materials. Additionally, AI algorithms can be used to generate content that may infringe upon intellectual property rights – and the AI copyright infringement lawsuits below are a testament to that. 

Here are some of the most significant AI copyright lawsuits that you should know about.

  1. The Github Copilot case 

In November 2022, a programmer filed a class action motion against tech-giant Microsoft, its subsidiary Github, and Open AI. The suit claimed that Copilot, an advanced code-generating AI system unveiled by Github in 2021, was trained on billions of lines of copyrighted code without permission. 

  1. The Midjourney, Stability AI, and DeviantArt case

In January 2023, three artists named Sarah Andersen, Kelly McKernan, and Karla Ortiz filed a class action against Stability AI,  Midjourney, and DeviantArt. All three companies have created AI art tools that, according to the lawsuit, infringed the rights of “millions of artists” by training on approximately five billion images that were “scraped” from the internet “with­out the con­sent of the orig­i­nal artists.”

This is undoubtedly one of the most critical AI and intellectual property lawsuits at the moment. 

  1. Stability AI vs Getty Images

Stability AI, the company behind Stable Diffusion, has also found itself in the legal crosshairs of Getty Images, one of the biggest suppliers of stock images and videos in the world. The stock image company has sued the AI organization for reportedly using millions of images from its site without permission to train its AI art-generating tool.

  1. Tremblay v. OpenAI Inc

ChatGPT may make the prospect of writing a book a lot less daunting than before, but aspiring writers must beware of the lawsuits filed against OpenAI by two best-selling authors: Paul Tremblay and Mona Awad.

Tremblay is a science fiction and horror author, while Mona Awad writes novels. The two have filed a lawsuit against the AI company claiming that its chatbot copied and used their materials without their consent. The class action also alleges that ChatGPT can present an alarmingly accurate summary of the authors’ respective works. 

The primary problem here is that the plaintiffs believe the books were “copied by OpenAI and ingested by the underlying OpenAI Language Model” without permission. They also cited a 2020 paper from OpenAI that explained about 15% of the training dataset for ChatGPT 3.0 came from “two internet-based books corpora” – one of which, according to the authors, comes from shadow libraries that use peer-to-peer file transfers to illegally distribute and publish thousands of copyrighted works.

  1. Sarah Silverman vs OpenAI and Meta

Popular comedian and author, Sarah Silverman, has also joined the race to potentially transform the artificial industry by suing OpenAI and Meta, the parent company of Facebook, for copyright infringement. The entertainer has filed the lawsuit along with authors Christopher Golden and Richard Kadrey.

The trio of plaintiffs alleges that OpenAI and Meta trained ChaGPT and LLaMA, respectively, on datasets containing materials from illegal websites such as Bibliotik, Library Genesis, and Z-Library. These websites are called shadow libraries as they allow individuals to download and share books in bulk via torrents. 

Read more: Is ChatGPT collecting your data?

What do AI copyright lawsuits mean for the future of the industry?

There is no denying that the ongoing AI copyright lawsuits hold massive implications for the future of the overall industry. 

That being said, it is also crucial to understand that these legal conflicts revolve around one big question: Can AI technologies, including software and tools, freely use copyrighted material without obtaining permission? These cases are still in the early stages, but their results could have far-reaching consequences, potentially influencing how companies develop and train their AI systems in the coming years. 

If the courts place limitations on the usage of copyrighted data, it may hinder the innovation and progress of AI systems, particularly those relying on large datasets for training. Meanwhile, if the courts establish more permissive guidelines, it could pave the way for AI developers to incorporate copyrighted material into their creations, potentially expediting the development of new applications and capabilities.

Nevertheless, one can’t ignore that these AI copyright infringement suits signal a broader shift in how artificial intelligence companies deal with existing intellectual property laws. 

To sum it up

The explosive popularity of ChatGPT and similar tools has sparked a much-needed discussion about AI and intellectual property. With AI-generated art resembling famous paintings and AI-written articles mirroring established journalists, the line between inspiration and infringement has become quite blurred. As a result, creators may lose control over their work, challenging traditional notions of ownership. 

However, it is also important to remember that AI aids researchers, artists, writers, and musicians to enhance creativity and generate new ideas. Therefore, experts need to figure out how to balance and encourage creativity while protecting the rights of the original creators.

On a side note, if you are a fan of ChatGPT but have concerns about its data privacy measures, please feel free to check out PureAI – your ultimate solution to an anonymous and secure AI experience. The tool is exclusively available through the Member Area on PureVPN, so make sure to sign up and log in to use it.

Furthermore, stay connected to PureVPN Blog to learn more about artificial intelligence and AI copyright infringement. 

Read more: How to delete your data from ChatGPT

Have Your Say!!

Join 3 million+ users to embrace internet freedom

Signup for PureVPN to get complete online security and privacy with a hidden IP address and encrypted internet traffic.