US bill proposes AI companies list what copyrighted materials they use

Congressman Adam Schiff introduced the Generative AI Copyright Disclosure Act on Tuesday.

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The debate over using copyrighted materials in AI training systems rages on — as does uncertainty over which works AI even pulls data from. US Congressman Adam Schiff is attempting to answer the latter, introducing the Generative AI Copyright Disclosure Act on April 9, Billboard reports. The bill would require AI companies to outline every copyrighted work in their datasets.

"AI has the disruptive potential of changing our economy, our political system, and our day-to-day lives. We must balance the immense potential of AI with the crucial need for ethical guidelines and protections." said Congressman Schiff in a statement. He added that the bill "champions innovation while safeguarding the rights and contributions of creators, ensuring they are aware when their work contributes to AI training datasets. This is about respecting creativity in the age of AI and marrying technological progress with fairness." Organizations such as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), SAG-AFTRA and WGA have shown support for the bill.

If the Generative AI Copyright Disclosure Act passes, companies would need to file all relevant data use to the Register of Copyrights at least 30 days before introducing the AI tool to the public. They would also have to provide the same information retroactively for any existing tools and make updates if they considerably altered datasets. Failure to do so would result in the Copyright Office issuing a fine — the exact number would depend on a company's size and past infractions. To be clear, this wouldn't do anything to prevent AI creators from using copyrighted work, but it would provide transparency on which materials they've taken from. The ambiguity over use was on full display in a March Bloomberg interview with OpenAI CTO Mira Murati, who claimed she was unsure if the tool Sora took data from YouTube, Facebook or Instagram posts.

The bill could even give companies and artists a clearer picture when speaking out against or suing for copyright infringement — a fairly common occurrence. Take the New York Times, which sued OpenAI and Microsoft for using its articles to train chatbots without an agreement or compensation, or Sarah Silverman, who sued OpenAI (a frequent defendant) and Meta for using her books and other works to train their AI models.

The entertainment industry has also been leading calls for AI protections. AI regulation was a big sticking point in the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes last year, ending only when detailed policies around AI went into their contracts. SAG-AFTRA has recently voiced its support for California bills requiring consent from actors to use their avatars and from heirs to make AI versions of deceased individuals. It's no surprise that Congressman Schiff represents California's 30th district, which includes Hollywood, Burbank and Universal City.

Musicians are echoing their fellow creatives, with over 200 artists signing an open letter in April that calls for AI protections, the Guardian reported. "This assault on human creativity must be stopped," the letter, issued by the Artist Rights Alliance, states. "We must protect against the predatory use of AI to steal professional artists' voices and likenesses, violate creators' rights, and destroy the music ecosystem." Billie Eilish, Jon Bon Jovi and Pearm Jam were among the signatories.