taylor-vick-aWslrFhs1w4-unsplashThere's been some time spent in this space considering how technology will impact the future of copyright law, both in therms of how copyrighted material is now made (and how much), and also in how we as consumers are able to interact with that material, and if we so choose, violate that copyright with something like ease. It's been a consideration of how technology will change the relationship between creator/owner and the public, but to this point the principal players have remained the same.

Changes to that relationship isn't all technology has wrought; there's now the potential for an entirely new creative force, one that brings with it new questions and considerations about the application of copyright law and who (or what) can be considered creators.

As The Verge notes, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is soliciting comments from the public on a series of questions related to artificial intelligence and its impact on copyright law; the questions, which you can see here, broadly touch on the issues of interaction of AI with both humans and existing copyrighted material, and the point that could determine authorship and/or infringement. They're questions without clear-cut answers, and for as relatively new as AI is, at least in the broader consciousness, there are already issues and conflicts presented even at this stage; one can only imagine how much messier things could get without clearly defined legal guidance.

It's a fascinating conversation, albeit probably not the one most interested observers would be having surrounding AI; given the very minor but very real fear from some that AI will be the death of us all, rights over creative works seems a pretty minor concern. But's it a necessary one to have now, before AI becomes enmeshed with an increasing amount of out tech and our daily lives. No one would suggest at present that AI is capable of genuine creativity as we understand it, but it creates nevertheless, and as it improves it will draw closer to something like human; where previously human input was needed, machines will be able to create independently, and what then of those creations and their copyright?

Whatever comes of this solicitation, the right answer isn't going to be arrived at from the outset, particularly given that copyright law is still short of perfect even with technology and media that have existed for years. But it has to start somewhere, and looking for answers from those who might know more about the technology is a good first step.

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