Gill Hunter, the managing partner of Northern commercial law firm Square One Law and an accomplished intellectual property lawyer, has highlighted challenges surrounding the emerging trend for AI-generated content and its impact on intellectual property (IP) rights.
Drawing parallels to the early days of the internet, Gill has highlighted the need for legal frameworks to catch up with rapidly advancing technology, such as ChatGPT, Bard and other AI engines.
Reflecting on her early legal career in the 1990s, Gill recalled the emergence of the internet as a mainstream business tool. At the time, there was a prevailing sense that the internet resembled the ‘wild west’, where there was little or no regulation and there seemed to be no recourse for infringement.
It was a time when publishing online was often seen as an implicit consent to the endless reuse of an individual’s or business’s content.
Gill Hunter said: “The underlying problem then remains the same today as when the internet was rolled out—the laws in place, particularly copyright law, were conceived in an era when the technology didn’t exist.
“Those producing the legal framework for copyright at that time could not have predicted the advancements that were to come. As a result, we find ourselves applying outdated legislation to novel situations, a process that will inevitably require time to catch up, by which point new technologies will have already emerged.”
“The IP community and their clients are eagerly awaiting the flood of test cases that will provide much-needed guidance on the interpretation and application of existing laws. These cases will play a crucial role in shaping the legal landscape surrounding AI-generated content.”
In the interim, Gill has shared some valuable lessons learned from the 1990s.
She said: “It’s essential not to assume that the current environment is akin to the new ‘Wild West’. Merely attributing content creation to AI or asserting that a work doesn’t attract any protection if it is AI generated are unlikely to be viewed as valid defences against infringement claims by either competitors or the courts.
“In addition, it is vital not to rely on the practices followed in other countries. Intellectual property law is jurisdictional in nature, with limited harmonisation globally. Therefore, what may be considered permissible in the United States might not necessarily align with the standards set in the United Kingdom or other countries.”
Gill concludes, “As the legal community grapples with the complexities of AI-generated content, Square One Law remains committed to helping clients navigate these emerging challenges with pragmatic advice. We will continue to advocate the protection of intellectual property rights in the digital age, working towards a future where laws effectively, and hopefully, accommodate technological advancements while upholding the fundamental principles of fairness and creativity.”