South Korean Government Says No Copyright for AI Content

South Korean Government Says No Copyright for AI Content

The South Korean government says that art or content created by AI without any human input cannot be copyrighted, according to Culture, Sports, and Tourism Minister Yu In-chon.

Only creations that “demonstrably convey human thoughts and emotions” will receive copyright registration, Yu In-chon said on Dec. 27, as reported by the Yonhap news agency.

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AI ‘copyright guidebook’

The decision comes after months of consultations with industry players who are grappling with issues resulting from the use of AI. In the end, the Culture Ministry, which oversees Korea’s copyright protection policy, moved against copyrighting AI-generated works. At a press briefing in Seoul, Yu In-chon said:

“It is essential for the country to actively and proactively respond to the new copyright environment, as the development of new AI technologies is bringing new changes to creation.”

According to the ministry, the new policy will be published at a later date in an “AI copyright guidebook” for businesses involved in artificial intelligence, copyright holders, and users.

The ministry said that holders of copyrighted material are responsible for protecting their inventions to prevent them from being used to train AI systems. In Korea, like elsewhere in the world, issues of AI-related copyright violations have caused quite a stir.

A rendition of the K-pop girl band Newjeans’ song “Hype Boy” by popular local rock singer Yim Jae-beom turned out to be the work of an AI program. Yim never did a cover of the song, but the AI was able to mimic his voice with stunning accuracy, even his breaths.

The AI song went viral on YouTube and Instagram, The Korea Herald reported, but it stoked concerns about the unauthorized use of an artist’s voice and music. Already, there was concern that AI music creators shouldn’t be able to own copyright because they did not have rights to the original voices or compositions.

“It’s difficult to respond to the copyright infringement of generative AI because it’s hard to distinguish the original sources used by the AI from the final product. Also, there is no legal requirement to declare whether generative AI was used,” an official of the Korea Music Copyright Association said previously.

The Ministry of Culture’s latest policy announcement clears up that confusion.

South Korean Government Says No Copyright for AI Content

Worldwide problems

It is not just in South Korea where AI-generated material is raising a stink. Several pending lawsuits have also been filed over the use of copyrighted works to train generative AI without permission in the United States and elsewhere.

As MetaNews reported on Wednesday, The New York Times sued both OpenAI, the ChatGPT creator, and Microsoft for allegedly using millions of its articles to train their AI programs without consent. The paper says both companies violated its copyright and are demanding compensation.

In a previous case, a U.S. judge in August rejected an application filed by computer scientist Stephen Thaler on behalf of his DABUS system, short for Device for the Autonomous Bootstrapping of Unified Sentience.

Thaler wanted patents covering inventions made by his AI system, but both the U.S. Copyright Office and Washington, D.C., District Judge Beryl said AI-made content cannot be copyrighted.

Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney, Unsplash.