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CC Defends Better Sharing and the Commons in WIPO Conversation on Generative AI

Better Internet, Copyright, Open Culture
A World Intellectual Property Organization title slide saying Ms. Brigitte Vézina, Director, Policy and Open Culture, Creative Commons, decorated with purple and green abstract shapes and a large, gray number 8, next to a screen capture of Brigitte Vézina smiling and wearing earbuds.

“This modified screen capture of video from WIPO Conversation on Intellectual Property (IP) and Frontier Technologies Eighth Session” by WIPO is licensed via CC BY 4.0.

Today Creative Commons (CC) delivered a statement to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Conversation on Generative AI and Intellectual Property, as part of our engagement in global policy discussions around the important issues raised by these new technologies and their impact on creativity, the commons, and better sharing, i.e. sharing that is inclusive, equitable, reciprocal, and sustainable. In this blog post, we share the statement as delivered by Brigitte Vézina, CC’s Director of Policy and Open Culture.

Watch the video of CC’s remarks >

Thank you Chair for giving me the floor on behalf of Creative Commons, the organization behind the eponymous copyright licenses that have released more than 2,5 billion works into the commons to date.

At CC we know generative AI, without proper guardrails, runs the risk of being exploitative and damaging the commons, yet it also has the potential to enhance it like never before. This conundrum leaves us with many hard questions:

In search of answers we held community consultations over the past months (including a symposium in New York City last week). As one would expect, we garnered a wide variety of views:

In this context, WIPO should help develop norms and practices that are flexible and that will work to increase transparency and empower creators with choices that reflect their values and aspirations. WIPO should approach this with fairness and sustainability in mind — instead of promoting an expansion of copyright, it should ascertain its intrinsic balance and promote the commons on which all creativity depends. In particular, since all creativity builds on the past, copyright needs to continue to leave room for people to study, analyze and learn from previous works to create new ones, including by analyzing past works using automated means.

Mr. Chair, copyright is only one lens through which to consider generative AI. Copyright is a rather blunt tool that often leads to black-and-white solutions that fall short of harnessing all the diverse possibilities that generative AI offers for human creativity. Copyright is not a social safety net, an ethical framework, or a community governance mechanism — and yet we know that regulating generative AI needs to account for these important considerations if we want to support our large community of creators who want to contribute to enriching a commons that truly reflects the world’s diversity of creative expressions.

Thank you, Mr. Chair and to WIPO for hosting this important conversation.

Subscribe to CC’s email newsletter to stay informed about all our work with AI, culture and creativity, and more, and continue the discussion on AI and the commons at the CC Global Summit during 3–6 Oct 2023 in Mexico City.

* The Open Letter: Artists Using Generative AI Demand Seat at Table from US Congress is currently signed by over 180 artists and continues to add more.

Like the rest of the world, CC has been watching generative AI and trying to understand the many complex issues raised by these amazing new tools. We are especially focused on the intersection of copyright law and generative AI. How can CC’s strategy for better sharing support the development of this technology while also respecting the work of human creators? How can we ensure AI operates in a better internet for everyone? We are exploring these issues in a series of blog posts by the CC team and invited guests that look at concerns related to AI inputs (training data), AI outputs (works created by AI tools), and the ways that people use AI. Read our overview on generative AI or see all our posts on AI.

Note: We use “artificial intelligence” and “AI” as shorthand terms for what we know is a complex field of technologies and practices, currently involving machine learning and large language models (LLMs). Using the abbreviation “AI” is handy, but not ideal, because we recognize that AI is not really “artificial” (in that AI is created and used by humans), nor “intelligent” (at least in the way we think of human intelligence).

Posted 22 September 2023