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On October 30, 2023, the Biden Administration issued a landmark Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence (the “Order”), directing the establishment of new standards for artificial intelligence (“AI”) safety and security and laying the foundation to ensure the protection of Americans’ privacy and civil rights, support for American workers, promotion of responsible innovation, competition and collaboration, while advancing America’s role as a world leader with respect to AI.

On October 19, 2023, the U.S. Copyright Office announced in the Federal Register that it will consider a proposed exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (“DMCA”) anti-circumvention provisions which prohibit the circumvention of any technological measures used to prevent unauthorized access to copyrighted works.  The exemption would allow those researching bias in artificial intelligence (“AI”) to bypass any technological measures that limit the use of copyrighted generative AI models.

On September 6, 2023, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Executive Order N-12-23 (the “Executive Order”) relating to the use of generative artificial intelligence (“GenAI”) by the State, as well as preparation of certain reports assessing the equitable use of GenAI in the public sector.  The Executive Order instructs State agencies to look into the potential risks inherent with the use of GenAI and creates a blueprint for public sector implementation of GenAI tools in the near future. The Executive Order indicates that California is anticipating expanding the role that GenAI tools play in aiding State agencies to achieve their missions, while simultaneously ensuring that these State agencies identify and study any negative effects that the implementation of GenAI tools might have on residents of the State.  The Executive Order covers a number of areas, including:

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia recently affirmed a decision by the U.S. Copyright Office (“USCO”) in which the USCO denied an application to register a work authored entirely by an artificial intelligence program.  The case, Thaler v. Perlmutter, challenging U.S. copyright law’s human authorship requirement, is the first of its kind in the United States, but will definitely not be the last, as questions regarding the originality and protectability of generative AI (“GenAI”) created works continue to arise.  The court in Thaler focused on the fact that the work at issue had no human authorship, setting a clear rule for one end of the spectrum.  As the court recognized, the more difficult questions that will need to be addressed include how much human input is required to qualify the user as the creator of a work such that it is eligible for copyright protection.

GitHub, acquired by Microsoft in 2018, is an online repository used by software developers for storing and sharing software projects.  In collaboration with OpenAI, GitHub released an artificial intelligence-based offering in 2021 called Copilot, which is powered by OpenAI’s generative AI model, Codex.  Together, these tools assist software developers by taking natural language prompts describing a desired functionality and suggesting blocks of code to achieve that functionality.  OpenAI states on its website that, Codex was trained on “billions of lines of source code from publicly available sources, including code in public GitHub repositories.” 

In a unanimous decision published on May 18, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated two of Amgen’s patents for its cholesterol drug, Repatha, making it more difficult for patentees to obtain broadly worded patents.[1]  The case – Amgen Inc. v. Sanofi – involves a dispute between the two pharmaceutical companies over the “enablement” requirement of 35 U.S.C. Section 112,[2] specifically how much a patent must disclose in order to “enable” a skilled person to make and use the claimed invention without undue trial and error.  The Supreme Court held that Amgen failed to provide enough detail to recreate the full scope of its claimed invention, and that if a patent claims an entire class of processes, machines, manufactures or compositions of matter then the patent must include sufficient information that enables a person skilled in the art to make and use the entire class.

The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Second Circuit in the case of Andy Warhol Found. for Visual Arts, Inc. v. Goldsmith in a 7-2 decision issued May 18, 2023, authored by Justice Sotomayor.  The Court held that the first factor of the copyright fair use test favored respondent photographer, Lynn Goldsmith, rather than petitioner, Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts (“AWF”).  The decision was limited to AWF’s commercial licensing of a silkscreen image of Prince, based on Goldsmith’s underlying photograph, to Condé Nast.  Below, we have highlighted the key factual background in the case and some takeaways from the Court’s decision. For more information, please see Cleary Gottlieb’s client alert.