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Home :: Copyright Law
07 May 2023
Large Language Models (LLM) like GPT-4 and its front end ChatGPT work by ingesting
gigantic amounts of text from the Internet to train the model, and then responding to prompts
with text generated from those models.
Depending on who you ask, this is either one step (or maybe no steps) from Artificial General
Intelligence, or as Ted Chiang wrote in the New Yorker,
ChatGPT Is a Blurry JPEG of the Web.
While I have my opinions about that, at this point I'm considering what the relationship
is under copyright law between the input text and the output text.
Keeping in mind that I am not a lawyer, and no court has yet decided a LLM case, let's take a look.
See more ...
Stable link is https://jl.ly/Copyright_Law/llmcopy.html
14 Apr 2023
The Internet Archive has for several years run a program they call Controlled Digital Lending (CDL.)
The Archive takes physical paper books, scans them, puts the books in storage, and
then lends out the scans, with each scan lent to only one person at a time.
Their theory is that the scans are equivalent to the books, so what they're doing is
the same as when a library lends physical books.
Not surprisingly, book publishers don't like this since they have their own idea about
how e-books work. In 2020 several publishers sued, and on March 24 the court ruled
quite firmly in favor of the publishers and said there is no such thing as CDL.
While there was a lot not to like about the plaintiffs, and there are certainly reasons to want CDL to exist
in some form, this decision reminds us that wishful thinking is not a substitute for legal
What we think the law should say, or wishes it said, is not what it actually says.
It also reminds us yet again why copyright law is such a poor fit for digital materals.
See more ...
Stable link is https://jl.ly/Copyright_Law/nocdl.html
11 Jan 2023
We hear that the widely touted ChatGPT can do a respectable job writing high school
essays, malware ransom notes, and the like. When it writes a document,
who owns the copyright?
An acquaintance asked ChatGPT for its advice and unsurprisingly it suggested
updating copyright law to give special recognition to material written
by AI software. (Tomorrow I plan to ask an herbalist if I should use more herbs.)
See more ...
Stable link is https://jl.ly/Copyright_Law/notai.html
06 Apr 2021
Back in the 1980s, everyone used the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet on their PCs.
In 1989, Borland released a competitor, Quattro Pro.
It used the same menu commands as 1-2-3 so that users could import their 1-2-3 spreadsheets
with keyboard macros.
Lotus sued Borland, and after a loss in the district court, Borland won on appeal, arguing
that the keyboard commands are a "method of operation" and not subject to copyright.
Lotus appealed to the Supreme Court, which deadlocked 4-4 (one justice was recused) in 1996.
That meant the appeals court decision was affirmed but it did not set a formal precedent.
Since then everyone assumed that settled the matter, you can't copyright the way a program works
or its interfaces.
Well, everyone except one guy in Hawaii.
See more ...
Stable link is https://jl.ly/Copyright_Law/oragoog.html
14 Sep 2020
The Internet Archive scans paper books and lets people borrow the scans. In what they call Controlled
Digital Lending (CDL), scans of books still in copyright are limited to one person at a time per physical copy,
analogous to the one person at a time who can borrow a physical book from a library. For books not in
copyright, there's no limit on how many people can use the scans at once.
Earlier this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, they turned CDL into a National Emergency
Library that let multiple people borrow the in-copyright
scans as well, saying this was a temporary replacement while local libraries were closed, and indeed
they want back to the one-borrower CDL policy in mid-June.
The publishing industry has never liked CDL, and the expanded access was for them the last straw, leading four
large publishers to sue the Archive in early June to make them stop.
The suit is moving very slowly, with the current schedule running through at least September 2021 before
a trial could start,
but in the meantime, lots of people have opinions about the suit, such as a recent
in The Nation.
The public face of the Archive's CDL is
who started the Archive and still leads it.
Since those publishers are pretty faceless, the most visible public face of opposition to the CDL
Ed Hasbrouck, one of the leaders of the National Writers Union (to
which I belong so he's sort of my shop steward.)
Ed's written a lot about CDL, such as
this FAQ on the NWU web site.
I happen to know and like both Brewster and Ed, each of whom has been kind enough to invite me to dinner
at their respective houses when I was in town.
So which one is right?
See more ...
Stable link is https://jl.ly/Copyright_Law/cdl.html
My other sites
Who is this guy?
Airline ticket info
Email in 2022 and beyond
180 days ago
A keen grasp of the obvious
Italian Apple Cake
268 days ago
Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-mail
Network Abuse Clearinghouse