Copyright challenges in the age of AI

  • Podcast

    18 March 2024

Copyright challenges in the age of AI  Desktop Image Copyright challenges in the age of AI  Mobile Image


In this episode, Partner Chris Young is joined by Senior Associate Briar Richardson to discuss intellectual property in the context of the rapidly evolving landscape of generative artificial intelligence (AI). They discuss the absence of AI specific IP legislation in New Zealand and outline existing copyright and patent laws and how these laws may impact use of generative AI. Touching on current legal cases including Getty Images in the UK and GitHub Copilot in the US, the episode outlines jurisdictional challenges and some of the key legal issues before the Courts. The conversation extends to some business risks associated with generative AI and provides practical precautions for organisations. 

[00:00:34 - 00:01:20] Understanding AI and IP laws 

Chris and Briar outline the rapid adoption of AI across business areas, the lack of specific AI legislation in New Zealand and that existing copyright and patent laws apply. Chris mentions by way of analogy historic lags between tech developments and IP law, and past challenges in copyright law.

[00:01:20 - 00:03:52] Copyright considerations in generative AI

They touch on the EU's recent legislation on AI, categorising AI models based on risk levels.They explore the current reliance on existing IP laws in New Zealand, with a focus on copyright and patent laws. Chris emphasises the relevance and interdependence of local and overseas IP laws for New Zealand businesses.

They discuss as examples copyright laws in the UK as a reference point for New Zealand and the base criteria for copyright subsistence, ownership, and potential infringements.

[00:03:52 - 00:09:58] International jurisdiction and infringement

They discuss jurisdictional issues and frameworks for copyright law, and its national treatment. Chris discusses the Getty Images case as an example of a case highlighting jurisdictional challenges. They outline contrasting copyright laws in the US with New Zealand and the UK. They also discuss issues for businesses using AI currently demonstrated by, cases like the GitHub Copilot case, and the impact of open-source software licensing on AI.

[00:09:58 - 00:16:26] Business risks 

Chris then summarises some business risks from generative AI, including potential copyright infringement claims and risks from inadvertently incorporating open source or Creative Commons terms.

[00:16:26 - 00:21:52] Implications and precautions 

Lastly, they highlight the importance of understanding AI technology's legal implications and risks. They then talk about Microsoft's indemnity commitments and discuss its realistic effectiveness. They discuss some precautions organisations can take to try to reduce risk including assessing terms, checking ownership of content in AI models, and keeping records. They recommend a previous episode of Tech Suite on AI risks and opportunities which takes a deeper look at this topic.

Information in this episode is accurate as at the date of recording, 5 March 2024.

Please contact Chris or Briar if you need legal advice and guidance on any of the topics discussed in the episode.

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