Artificial intelligence has emerged as a transformative force across various industries in recent years, and one industry in which it has made significant inroads lately is the world of motion pictures. With A.I. technology advancing rapidly, the possibilities for sparking creativity are many and it also promises to significantly increase efficiency in areas like special and visual effects. However, this technological revolution has also given rise to complex challenges concerning intellectual property rights.
One of the primary reasons behind the ongoing SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) strike has been the concerns surrounding A.I.’s impact on the ownership and potential exploitation of creative works and even actor likenesses. And how the strike is ultimately resolved will almost certainly set the stage for the limits – or lack thereof – in regard to how A.I. is utilized in movies for decades to come.
The A.I. Revolution and Intellectual Property Rights
Like it or not, A.I. has begun to create a paradigm shift in how films are created, ranging from scriptwriting and casting to post-production. Generative A.I., in particular, has played a crucial role in effectively automating content generation by analyzing vast amounts of ingested data and producing original works.
While the quality and true ‘originality’ of said works is a matter of debate, this relatively sudden advancement has left both studios and their ‘employees’ (so to speak) scrambling to determine how rights, royalties, and many other considerations will be determined and handled under the law. While generative artificial intelligence certainly has the potential to streamline production and reduce costs in movie and television projects across the world, the debate rages on over who “owns” A.I.-generated or A.I.-assisted works and the revenue it generates.
SAG-AFTRA Strikes Back
The recent SAG-AFTRA strike was triggered, in part, by concerns over this A.I.-generated content. Specifically, movie and television actors have shared increasing concerns about the possibility of artificially created voices and deepfakes replacing human actors without proper compensation or consent. That artificial intelligence technology is now on the verge of replicating and imitating real actors down to the last eyebrow hair or verbal tic – with or without their involvement – poses a significant possible threat to actors’ livelihoods, not to mention their valuable identities and performances.
Additionally, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) has also raised concerns over the potential misuse of AI in creating scripts and narratives. While it is generally agreed that A.I. is a helpful tool that can assist writers in developing ideas, the WGA fears that an over-reliance on A.I.-generated scripts would devalue human creativity and undermine the traditional creative process. And as touched upon above, the question of ownership when it comes to A.I.-assisted scripts remains ambiguous, adding to the complexity and confusion of intellectual property rights in the industry.
Regulating A.I. in the Age of Content Consumption
The implementation of A.I. technology in the motion picture industry is not solely a matter of business discretion. Assuming that widespread adoption of A.I. is inevitable, the concern from groups like SAG-AFTRA is that companies, corporations, or other massive conglomerates like large movie studios will resist efforts towards making A.I. technology fairly controlled by strong regulatory frameworks. The worry within these groups is that, if left unchecked, unfettered use of A.I. could lead to widespread infringement of intellectual property rights and further marginalization of creative professionals.
The rise of A.I. technology in the motion picture industry presents a double-edged sword for intellectual property rights. While it offers unprecedented opportunities for jumpstarting creativity and efficiency, it also raises complex questions surrounding ownership, authorship, and innovation that current law does not completely answer. Finding a harmonious balance between A.I. technology and intellectual property rights requires a collective effort from all stakeholders involved – artists, unions, studios, tech companies, and policymakers.
A.I. in Reverse: Using Creative Works Uncreatively?
The issue of intellectual property rights in A.I. technology extends beyond creative works to the very algorithms that power its systems. Intellectual property law and patent law currently play a pivotal role in protecting A.I. innovations, but this also raises questions about the balance between innovation and monopolization, and these same laws have had difficulty keeping up with the pace of A.I. advancements. In fact, the tech companies behind generative A.I. are facing backlash by authors and content creators for using copyright-protected works to ‘train’ artificial intelligence bots without consent by or compensation to the original authors.
Regardless, these companies have increasingly sought to patent A.I.-generated “inventions” or advancements, claiming that they fulfill the criteria of novelty and inventiveness. However, the patent system’s traditional approach is not adequately equipped to fully evaluate these creations, which are often the result of complex algorithms and machine learning processes, instead of hard work and inspiration on the part of an actual human. Striking the right balance between fostering innovation and ensuring fair access to artificial intelligence technologies has become a hugely pressing concern in today’s legal landscape.
Richards Rodriguez & Skeith’s Intellectual Property Law team works hard every day to remain on the forefront of intellectual property, patent, copyright, and technology advancements, ensuring that our counsel is timely and valuable. If you need assistance protecting your intellectual property, we may be able to help! Contact us today to set up a FREE consultation!