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UPSC EDITORIAL ANALYSIS : A case of established law lagging behind new tech



Source: The Hindu

  • Prelims: Science and technology, Artificial intelligence(AI), Generative AI, Big Data, GANs, ChatGPT1 tool, DALL.E2 etc
  • Mains GS Paper III and IV: Significance of technology for India, AI, indigenisation of technology and development of new technology.


  • The New York Times(NYT) sued OpenAI and Microsoft for copyright infringement.




Artificial intelligence(AI):

  • It is a branch of computer science dealing with the simulation of intelligent behavior in computers.
  • It describes the action of machines accomplishing tasks that have historically required human intelligence.
  • It includes technologies like machine learning, pattern recognition, big data, neural networks, self algorithms etc.
  • g: Facebook’s facial recognition software which identifies faces in the photos we post, the voice recognition software that translates commands we give to Alexa, etc are some of the examples of AI already around us.


Generative AI:

  • It is a cutting-edge technological advancement that utilizes machine learning and artificial intelligence to create new forms of media, such as text, audio, video, and animation.
  • With the advent of advanced machine learning capabilities: It is possible to generate new and creative short and long-form content, synthetic media, and even deep fakes with simple text, also known as prompts.


AI innovations:

  • GANs (Generative Adversarial Networks)
  • LLMs (Large Language Models)
  • GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformers)
  • Image Generation to experiment
  • Create commercial offerings like DALL-E for image generation
  • ChatGPT for text generation.
    • It can write blogs, computer code, and marketing copies and even generate results for search queries.


The NYT’s lawsuit:

  • It alleged that its content was used to train large language models (LLMs) and generative AI (GenAI) s


The NYT’s concerns:

●      The NYT claimed that companies use information from multiple sources to develop AI products.

○      They give The NYT content special emphasis and “seek to free-ride on the Times’s massive investment in journalism” without permission or payment.

○      This reduces readers’ perceived need to visit the Times website

○      It will potentially reduce advertising and subscription revenue.

  • The problem of AI “hallucinations”, in which incorrect material is mistakenly credited to The Times.
  • It wanted that any chatbot models and training data utilising Times copyrighted content be destroyed.

Response by OpenAI:

  • Since using copyrighted content to train GenAI models “serves a new ‘transformative’ purpose
    • Their actions should be permitted under “fair use”.

Other cases:

  • Lawsuits were brought against AI services for using unpaid web content scraping.
  • Several authors, including George Martin, Jonathan Franzen, and John Grisham, sued a few GenAI companies, alleging “systematic theft on a mass scale”.
  • Philip Pullman and Margaret Atwood have signed an open letter demanding payment for the use of their works by AI companies.
  • Alleging code misuse in Copilot training, some IT professionals have sued OpenAI, Microsoft, and GitHub.
  • Stability AI, Midjourney, and DeviantArt were sued by visual artists for infringement of their copyrights.
    • Getty Images sued Stability AI.
  • Universal Music Group urged Spotify and Apple Music to prevent scraping its material to train AI bots to make new songs. And so forth.

Implications of case:

  • It opens up a new legal frontier.
  • It may redefine legal contours around intellectual property rights in the U.S
  • It will establish global precedents at a time when most regulatory frameworks, including those in India, are falling behind.
  • From a legal perspective: It is a classic case of established law lagging behind new technology.
  • The victory of Big Tech might deter human content producers.
  • If The NYT prevails, GenAI companies might be required to compensate content producers for their use
    • It would significantly increase the cost of GenAI models.

Ethical Issues with AI:


Way Forward

  • Publishers such as The NYT certainly recognise they will have to embrace AI as the “future”.
  • Data is essential for the training of GenAIs: Copyright laws, mostly dating back to the printing press, were not designed to cover LLMs such asChatGPT.
  • Notwithstanding, it is necessary for the courts and/or legislatures to evolve the laws to account for the constantly changing situation.
  • AI has now irreversibly “revolutionized” warfare: The use of unmanned lethal autonomous weapons systems, abbreviated in an unconscious irony by the US Defence Department as LAWs
    • It illustrates complete machine-learning dependence and dehumanization of the means of warfare
    • setting back the project of international humanitarian law.
  • The overall project of “humanizing” AI applications in all contexts, civil or military, must continue lest.


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