OpenAI CEO Sam Altman Says Content Owners Need To Get “Significant Upside Benefit” From New Technology
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman told lawmakers on Tuesday that the “right thing to do” is to make sure that content owners “get significant upside benefit” from artificial intelligence technology that has raised new concerns over copyright and compensation.
At a Senate subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, Altman was questioned by some lawmakers over the use of copyrighted material to train OpenAI’s ChatGPT to generate new works. The use of AI is an issue in the Writers Guild of America strike against the studios, but content creators in general have raised concerns over what the technology means for protection of their intellectual property.
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Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said that the music artists in her state “should be able to decide if their copyrighted songs and images are going to be used to train these models.” She cited OpenAI’s Jukebox, which generates music in “a variety of genres and artist styles.”
“I went in this weekend and I said, ‘Write me a song that sounds like Garth Brooks,’ and it gave me a different version of Simple Man,” she said. “So it’s interesting that it would do that. But you’re training it on these copyrighted songs,” she said, raising the issue of who owns the rights to the AI generated material.
Altman said, “We think that creators deserve control over how their creations are used, and what happens sort of beyond the point of them releasing it into the world.” He said that “we need to figure out new ways with this new technology that creators can win, succeed and have a vibrant life, and I’m optimistic that this will present it.”
He said that they are working with visual artists and musicians “to figure out what people want.” “There’s a lot of different opinions, unfortunately,” he said.
Blackburn raised the idea of establishing something like Sound Exchange, which collects and distributes digital performance royalties for music, but Altman admitted he was not familiar with the third-party service.
She also asked Altman about whether AI companies should get artists’ consent before using their copyrighted works or using their voices and likenesses. Altman did not get into the specifics of obtaining consent, but said that they were working with artists on the issue.
“We think that content creators, content owners need to benefit from this technology,” he said. “Exactly what the economic model is, we’re still talking to artists and content owners about what they want. I think there’s a lot of ways this can happen. But very clearly, now matter matter what the law is, the right thing to do is to make sure people get significant upside benefit from this new technology. And we believe that it’s really going to deliver that, but that content owners, likenesses, people totally deserve control over how that is used and to benefit from it.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) brought up the issue of compensating news publishers for AI-generated material.
“What they need is to be compensated for their content and not have it stolen,” she said.
Altman noted that the current version of ChatGPT is trained in 2021, so it is not a good source for news content. He said that “having a vibrant national media is critically important and, let’s call it round one of the internet, has not been great for that.” “If there are things we can do to help local news, we would certainly like to,” he said.
Publishers have struggled with the loss of ad revenue to tach giants like Google and Facebook. Klobuchar has proposed legislation to allow newspapers and TV stations to jointly negotiate for content deals with the tech giants.
The Copyright Office has rejected a copyright registration for a work made “without any creative contribution from a human actor.” But in February, the office concluded that a graphic novel with human generated text and AI-generated images was copyrightable, even though the individual pictures were not.
The office said that it will seek public input later this year on other questions raised by the use of AI, “including how the law should apply to the use of copyrighted works in AI training and the resulting treatment of outputs.”
The Motion Picture Association weighed in on AI in 2020 when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office sought comments on IP protection. MPA called for restraint in considering any changes to copyright law, reflecting the industry’s interest in protecting copyright and in taking advantage of the new technology. When it came to the use of copyrighted works in AI technology, it argued that the fair use defense was “sufficiently robust to determine which uses are fair and which are not.”
The hearing was before the subcommittee on privacy, technology and the law, and right off the bat reflected the worries of lawmakers over the downsides of AI, including impersonation and misinformation. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), the subcommittee chairman, opened the hearing with an AI generated deepfake of his voice.
Altman said that his “worst fears” are that the tech industry causes “significant harm to the world.” “If this technology goes wrong, it can go quite wrong, and we want to be vocal about that. We want to work with the government to prevent that from happening.”
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