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

“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:

How can creators be fairly rewarded for building our shared commons?
How can we support the new forms of creativity enabled by AI?
How do we support creators through these unprecedented technological developments?

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:

Some creators are very concerned about AI and perceive it as a serious threat to their livelihood — at the same time many artists are relishing the new possibilities offered by AI as it pushes the boundaries of human creative expression and can make creativity more equitably accessible, for example, for people with disabilities. We just published an open letter from over 70 artists* who use generative AI to help surface their experiences and views.
Some developers want unbridled freedom to build their model — but some are looking forward to working with opt-outs, i.e. respecting the wishes of creators who do not want to have their content trained upon, or to train on openly licensed content. We are already seeing efforts to help creators signal their preferences and norms and standards are emerging through community practice and portend fresh and innovative approaches.

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.

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* 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.

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