The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. v. Goldsmith is unlikely to shed much light on whether the use of copyrighted material in artificial intelligence (AI) content will lead to liability. The Court’s decision mandates that courts look to the “specific use” of the copyrighted material at issue when evaluating fair use under the Copyright Act. So, what specific factors should AI developers and users consider when using copyrighted content in the AI space post-Warhol?
The Copyright Act and Generative AI
Under the Copyright Act, copyright holders have the exclusive right to reproduce their work, prepare derivative works, distribute copies of the work, perform the work, and display the work publicly. In developing an AI system, programmers and companies can violate exclusive rights of copyright holders at two distinct points:
- By using copyrighted material as an input to teach the AI software
- By creating an unauthorized derivative output of the copyrighted work because of the AI application. The distinctions between inputs and outputs involving this space are detailed here and here.