New forum to examine AI copyright issues

A forum of industry representatives will be stood up by the Albanese government on a permanent basis to consider copyright issues presented by generative artificial intelligence platforms like ChatGPT.

The AI and Copyright References Group will serve as a “standing mechanism” for engagement with the industry, including those representing the interests of creative industries and the technology sector.

It is a result of the fourth roundtable into copyright priorities and emerging copyright issues held on Monday. A total of four roundtables have been convened over the last 10 months, attracting the attendance of more than 50 peak bodies and other organisations.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus addressing federal Parliament. Image: Twitter

The third roundtable, held in August, hosted initial discussions on the implications of AI for copyright law, revealing a “diverse range of views across industry sectors and stakeholder groups”, according to the communique.

Copyright owners argued that need for “greater transparency around how copyright materials are being used by AI developers and users in order to better understand whether infringement is occurring”.

Participants from the technology and research sectors, meanwhile, suggested amendments to copyright law be considered to “address legal uncertainty and/or risks that may reduce Australia’s competitiveness as a destination for AI development”.

Similar concerns were also raised during the Industry department’s AI consultation earlier this year, including by the Tech Council of Australia, which argued that tightening the existing copyright regime could pose a barrier to AI investment and adoption.

Announcing the references group on Tuesday, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said “important copyright issues” presented by AI would require “careful and consultative” engagement with the community.

Mr Dreyfus said the materials used to train AI models, the transparency of inputs and outputs, and the use of AI to create imitative works were among the issues presented by AI that the forum would consider.

Other issues include “whether and when AI-generated works should receive copyright protection”, following a ruling by a US court in August that artwork generated by generative AI tools cannot be registered for copyright protection.

“Engagement with a broad range of stakeholders and sectors will help Australia harness AI opportunities while continuing to support the vitality of our creative sectors,” Mr Dreyfus said in a statement.

“The references group will complement other AI-related government initiatives, including the work being led by the Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic on the safe and responsible use of AI.”

When the group was suggested by the Attorney-General’s Department earlier this year, it was envisaged as a forum of industry representatives that would inform the government’s “consideration of copyright issues within the broader AI policy environment”.

A spokesperson for the minister told that the government is still to decide on the size and shape of the group. Other recent advisory groups or committees have consisted of around 10 members.

Mr Dreyfus said that further information on the forum and other outcomes from the fourth copyright roundtable would be made available by the Attorney-General’s Department in the near future.

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