Pasquale and Sun, ‘Consent and Compensation: Resolving Generative AI’s Copyright Crisis’

Generative artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to augment and democratize creativity. However, it is undermining the knowledge ecosystem that now sustains it. Generative AI may unfairly compete with creatives, displacing them in the market. Most AI firms are not compensating creative workers for composing the songs, drawing the images, and writing both the fiction and non-fiction books that their models need in order to function. AI thus threatens not only to undermine the livelihoods of authors, artists, and other creatives, but also to destabilize the very knowledge ecosystem it relies on.

Alarmed by these developments, many copyright owners have objected to the use of their works by AI providers. To recognize and empower their demands to stop non-consensual use of their works, we propose a streamlined opt-out mechanism that would require AI providers to remove objectors’ works from their databases once copyright infringement has been documented. Those who do not object still deserve compensation for the use of their work by AI providers. We thus also propose a levy on AI providers, to be distributed to the copyright owners whose work they use without a license. This scheme is designed to ensure creatives receive a fair share of the economic bounty arising out of their contributions to AI. Together these mechanisms of consent and compensation would result in a new grand bargain between copyright owners and AI firms, designed to ensure both thrive in the long-term.

Pasquale, Frank A and Sun, Haochen, Consent and Compensation: Resolving Generative AI’s Copyright Crisis (May 1, 2024), Cornell Legal Studies Research Paper Forthcoming.

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