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Practical AI: Machine Learning, Data Science

Legal consequences of generated content

Tue Jul 18 2023
AI regulationcopyright lawlarge language modelsintellectual propertymachine-generated contentAI in the workforce


This episode explores the challenges of regulating AI, copyrightability of machine-generated works, and the impact of large language models on intellectual property. Damien Reall, a lawyer and technologist, shares insights on using large language models as assistants, the gray area of using generated content, and the transformative use argument. The episode also delves into the copyrightability of machine-generated content, legal issues surrounding intellectual property, and the implications of AI and automation in the workforce.


Large language models challenge traditional notions of human creativity

The copyrightability of machine-generated works raises questions about what should be protected by intellectual property laws.

Using large language models can significantly reduce project time

Large language models serve as assistants in various knowledge work areas, providing efficient and compelling output.

Machine-generated content lacks human creativity

Machine-generated content is considered uncopyrightable as it lacks originality and human creative elements.

The future of intellectual property may involve a decline in the importance of patents

Advancements like large language models and machine-generated patents raise questions about the effectiveness and relevance of current intellectual property strategies.

AI and automation can be seen as force multipliers

Adopting an abundance mindset sees AI as a tool that creates more opportunities rather than taking away jobs.


  1. Introduction
  2. Copyrighting Machine-Generated Works
  3. Using Large Language Models and Copyright Law
  4. Machine-Generated Content and Copyright
  5. Copyrightability of Machine-Generated Content
  6. Legal Issues and Intellectual Property
  7. AI and Automation in the Workforce


00:05 - 06:21

  • Welcome to Practical AI, a podcast for those interested in artificial intelligence and its impact on the world.
  • Today's guest is Damien Reall, a lawyer and technologist with experience in litigation, digital forensics, and software development.
  • Regulation of AI is challenging due to the fast pace of technological advancements.
  • Past attempts at regulating technology have had limited success.
  • Damien has worked with large language models in his job at VLEX, where they analyze legal documents.
  • He also collaborated on a music project involving generative techniques.
  • Damien's expertise includes investigating how bad actors use Facebook data.
  • He developed a method to copyright billions of melodies automatically and made them available in the public domain to protect against lawsuits.

Copyrighting Machine-Generated Works

05:59 - 12:25

  • The speaker has copyrighted 471 billion melodies and placed them in the public domain to protect defendants in melody lawsuits.
  • Every defendant in these lawsuits has used the speaker's arguments and won after his talk was seen two million times.
  • The speaker questions whether machine-generated works are copyrightable and discusses the potential negative consequences if they are.
  • The speaker has met with influential individuals, such as the former chief economist of Spotify, due to the popularity of his talk.
  • The discussion expands to include other forms of knowledge work, such as writing briefs or coding, and how generative models can produce compelling output.
  • The speaker reflects on the ambiguity of the term 'creative' and shares examples from his own project where brute force generated unoriginal melodies that led to copyright disputes.
  • Large language models challenge traditional notions of human creativity and raise questions about what should be protected by intellectual property laws.
  • The speaker emphasizes using large language models as a shield rather than a sword to protect against weaponization of intellectual property.
  • A new project is introduced that aims to generate prior art for patents by combining existing claims from all filed patents into new combinations.
  • The discussion shifts to how this type of work influences the speaker's own job as both a coder and a lawyer, particularly in the textual area.

Using Large Language Models and Copyright Law

11:58 - 18:26

  • Large language models can be used as assistants in the textual area, helping with tasks like writing articles.
  • Using large language models can significantly reduce the time required for certain projects.
  • Determining what aspects of a work are machine-generated and what are human-generated can be challenging.
  • There is a gray area when it comes to using generated content, such as chat interfaces that incorporate copyrighted material.
  • The concept of transformative use in copyright law can be applied to large language models ingesting copyrighted works.
  • Large language models place input texts in vector space and discard them, focusing on generating new content based on similarities.

Machine-Generated Content and Copyright

17:58 - 24:35

  • Language models ingest text and place words in vector space to identify similarities.
  • Ideas are uncopyrightable, while expressions of ideas are copyrightable.
  • Large language models extract ideas from books and jettison expressions.
  • Machine-generated output is considered uncopyrightable by the copyright office.
  • The transformative use argument suggests that large language models are extracting ideas, which is a transformative process.
  • If machine-generated output is not copyrightable, it could lead to a major change in content creation.
  • Some experts predict that large language models will dominate the web with machine-generated content after November 2022.
  • Machine-generated content is smooth and lacks the jaggedness of human-created content.
  • Judicial opinions may be one of the last sources of jagged human-created content based on facts.
  • Validated human-created content like judicial opinions could be a valuable corpus for large language models.

Copyrightability of Machine-Generated Content

24:09 - 30:48

  • Machine-generated content created by AI models is not copyrightable as it lacks human creativity.
  • If a human recreates the machine-generated content, they can claim copyright on the additions they make.
  • The concept of thin copyright applies when someone adds their own creative elements to public domain works.
  • The amount of originality and creativity added to machine-generated content determines its copyrightability.
  • The provenance of training data and model release raises questions about licensing and potential legal issues.
  • Using data that is licensed for specific purposes in a way that violates the license may taint the resulting model.

Legal Issues and Intellectual Property

30:26 - 37:12

  • Using licensed items in a way that is against the license should be a cause for concern.
  • Proving such violations can be tricky due to the complexity of data provenance.
  • The value of current intellectual property (IP) diminishes over time as business and technology progress.
  • The traditional strategy of immediately copyrighting and locking in ideas may no longer be effective.
  • The intellectual property regime established since the 1700s is struggling to keep up with advancements like large language models.
  • Machine-generated patents could potentially flood the US patent office, raising questions about fraud and detection.
  • The future of IP may involve a further decline in the importance of patents.
  • Knowledge workers are benefiting from generative tools and suggestions, leading to increased productivity.
  • The implications of increased productivity include considerations about work hours and employer perspectives.

AI and Automation in the Workforce

36:52 - 42:36

  • In world number one, people work 40 hours a week and provide 40 hours of productivity.
  • In world number two, some people work three full-time jobs and still provide 100% output for each job.
  • In world number three, employers want employees to give 100% of their time and achieve 10x productivity gains.
  • In world number four, executives lay off two-thirds of the workforce but still require them to work 40 hours a week with 10x productivity.
  • There is a scarcity mindset and an abundance mindset when it comes to AI and automation.
  • The abundance mindset sees AI as a force multiplier that creates more opportunities rather than taking away jobs.
  • To stay ahead of the wave of AI, lawyers and coders should learn how to use AI tools to outrun their competition.